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Will FCC Destroy Democracy on Nov. 16? Activism Needed Now!

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Joan Brunwasser     Permalink
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My guest today is Sue Wilson of Media Action Center. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Sue.


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Joan Brunwasser: It's been a while since we've talked. How have things been going with the people-taking-back-the-media department?

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Sue Wilson: We are under siege, Joan. The Trump DOJ is threatening to block the AT&T Time Warner merger, a good thing, but for the wrong reason: they want to take CNN off the air so the news org cannot criticize Donald Trump. And in my bailiwick, broadcast consolidation, the FCC is undoing all the good we've achieved over the past several years, and will vote November 16 - without any public comment - to allow the newspaper and nearly every TV station in our local communities to have one corporate owner. One newsroom will be able to force feed us whatever information they want us to hear, and keep us in the dark about information they do not want us to know. The democracy is literally at stake right now, so I've come out of retirement to sound the alarm!

JB: Let's give our readers some background here, Sue. Media consolidation has been going on for some time, hasn't it? How did that happen and how much worse have things gotten?

SW: Let's go back to the beginning, to the days when radio was new and magically came into our homes with a push of a button. Pioneer broadcasters understood the power of such a medium, that it could be used for good or ill, and so they voluntarily came up with caps on how many stations one person could own. Congress thought that was a such good idea, they ensconced it into law. In those days, one person could own just three TV stations, three AM radio stations, and three FM radio stations. Those caps later increased to what was known as the rule of seven - seven TV stations, seven AM and seven FM radio stations. When Ronald Reagan came into office, those caps were loosened so a person could own 20 TV, AM and FM stations.

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It was also Ronald Reagan's administration that got rid of the rule that both sides could access the broadcast microphones to discuss controversial issues (the Fairness Doctrine). That changed the political landscape, because Rush Limbaugh began a one-sided, pro-Republican daily tirade that helped Republicans so much, they made him an honorary member of Congress.

Learning that one-sided radio would help them win elections, the GOP drafted a new law, the 1996 Telecommunications Act, allowing one person (corporation) to own as many radio stations nationwide as they could own, and as many as eight in one market, which Bill Clinton signed into law (a decision he regrets). Despite promises from the radio industry that it would provide more opportunities for diverse programming, it instead programmed all right-wing radio all the time all over the country, creating a monopoly on political information in the USA.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

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6 people are discussing this page, with 8 comments  Post Comment


Daniel Geery

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Words are hard to find. I will do as suggested tomorrow.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017 at 4:29:48 AM

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Daniel Geery

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A few words do come to mind. The internet, for all practical purposes, is the nervous system of the planet. More important than democracy itself-and we don't have that anyway, or even the illusion of it any more. Of the many discouraging articles I read yesterday, I see acting on this as most critical. The effort to speak out on this issue appears most worth at least a phone call, email or both.

P.S. All done in five minutes or less. There is also a petition from Sumofus.org on this; it came in my email, but I can't find the actual link.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017 at 1:52:07 PM

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Joan Brunwasser

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Great, Daniel!

Spread the word.

Thanks.

Submitted on Wednesday, Nov 15, 2017 at 3:54:36 AM

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lila york

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Happy to write and phone - but my experience is that none of them give a crap what the people want - it would take 100 million contacts to get their attention. nonetheless I wrote to the

fcc and will phone my reps. we might have more luck with a media boycott. unplug. just unplug. drive their ratings so far into the gutter that they cannot get advertisers and will have to shutter. goes along with "stop buying stuff".hit them all in their wallets.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017 at 10:35:12 PM

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Fernando Macias

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Screw democracy! Our founding fathers gave us a Republic, not a democracy. At least they knew the difference between the two. They knew that a democracy quickly turns into an oligarchy. A Republic if you can keep it. The constitution is the supreme law of the land. See Article VI of the constitution, the supremacy clause, and the supreme court case of Marbury vs. Maddison, where chief justice John Marshall outlines judicial review. Any law, Act, treaty, or anything Congress passes that is contrary to the Constitution of the United States is null and void. Period!
Therefore believe it or not the Act of 1817 is illegal and null and void. If you want to reclaim your country first understand what is it your trying to reclaim. Certainly not a democracy. RECLAIM THE REPUBLIC. It's still there, you have to see it first.

Submitted on Wednesday, Nov 15, 2017 at 5:35:19 AM

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Jim Arnold

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Yours is a favorite quibble of Republicans, and a typically dog-whistley quibble it is. No one imagines that we have an Athenian-style democracy. We have (or are supposed to have) a democratic republic. A republic can be (as it was in Rome) ruled by an un-democratically elected elite. But we elect (or are supposed to elect) our representatives democratically. So it's perfectly legitimate to insist on the democratic aspect of our government, and to call it a democracy in the modern sense of the term.

Submitted on Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 at 1:48:31 PM

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Fernando Macias

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I guess some people are too poor to pay attention.

Submitted on Wednesday, Nov 15, 2017 at 5:42:25 AM

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Meryl Ann Butler

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Great interview!

I emailed the commissioners (but I edited the text provided. I don't think she meant "Vote NO for more consolidation!", I think she meant "Vote NO on more consolidation!" At least, the latter is what I meant! The two sentences actually mean the opposite.)

Thanks for providing the info!

Submitted on Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 at 11:30:24 AM

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