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Frank Ahrens
TechNews: FCC Section
Unlikely Alliances Forged in Fight Over Media Rules (Post, May 20)
Media Fight Focuses on Local TV Stations (Post, May 14)
A New Era for Media Firms? (Post, May 13)
FCC Web site
Talk: Business News message boards
Live Online Transcripts

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FCC Decision on Media Ownership
Frank Ahrens
Post Financial Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 03, 2003; 1:00 p.m ET

The Federal Communications Commission recently voted to relax its rules on media ownership, which means that companies will be free to buy up more newspapers and TV and radio stations than ever before. Some say this will bolster the economy, but others say it will result in the death of media diversity.

Post financial staff writer Frank Ahrens will be online Tuesday, June 3 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the recent FCC votes on loosening media ownership regulations.

Below is the transcript.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.



Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.



Frank Ahrens: Greetings, all, and thanks for joining in today. It's nice to be back in my old cyber-haunt, where I stalked for many a happy year talking about radio.
Today, we talk about the FCC's action yesterday, changing its key media ownership rules.
As you probably know, the FCC relaxed or eliminated some rules, while maintaining or tightening others. It was a nasty 3-2 split on the five-member commission, with Republicans voting for and Democrats nay.
What it all means will shake out in the coming months, as we're likely to see more media industry consolidation, though I would be surprised to see a "gold rush," as some have predicted.
Let's get to your questions.

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Boston, Mass.: My understanding is that the FCC is supposed to look out for consumers benefits. How does this action benefit consumers?

Frank Ahrens: Good question. The three Republican members of the FCC--chairman Michael Powell and Kathleen Abernathy and Kevin Martin--said that relaxing the rules will lead to great efficiencies in the media business, which should lead to better local news, for instance. They said the FCC had accumulated 18 months of data that show, for instance, that in the situations where a newspaper was allowed to own a television station in the same city, the station produced more and better news, thanks to the resources of the paper. The biggest point that Powell made, though, is that many of the current media ownership rules on the books are essentially unenforceable because they've been tossed out by court for faulty reasoning. Which means that there has in effect been no national cap on how many TV stations a network can buy. Powell says that yesterday's rule actually sets a legally defensible cap that prevents networks from buying too many stations, which is in the public interest.

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New York, NY: Will these go into effect immediately, or will there be some lawsuits or legislation filed that will slow it down.

Frank Ahrens: The rules will be entered into the Federal Register this summer, when they become statute. Groups then have 30 days to petition to have them sent back the FCC, essentially saying, "We think you missed something here. Take another look." And parties have 60 days to file suit, which is most likely, considering both consumer groups and broadcasters are not happy with the limits as they've been set. (The nature of compromise, Powell has said.) Also, there is pending legislation in both houses to set the national station ownership cap at 35 percent and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has introduced something called a "resolution of disapproval" that, if passed by simple majority of both houses, would overturn the FCC rules. My story tomorrow will examine the likelihood of that. All that being said, Powell told me the other day that if a merger application walks into the FCC today, it would be evaluated based on these new rules.

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Boston, Mass.: With companies like the NY Times & Washington Post standing to benefit from this ruling, why are both paper's editorial pages against the ruling?

Frank Ahrens: Well, actually, both of our in-house editorials agreed with the FCC that the rules are a relic of a past media age and said they probably ought to be lifted, but at the same time cautioned against unfettered consolidation that would lead to quashing minority voices.
And, even though no one on the outside probably believes this, reputable newspaper editorial pages act independently of their corporate parents. I know ours does.

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Rockville, Md.: I read that Mr. Powell took 44 junkets paid for by large corporations. Ethics aside, where does someone who is head of the FCC have the time to go on 44 junkets? Most of us working stiffs barely have time for our 2-week annual vacations to the beach. Where did he go? Can the WP provide a list of where he went, who paid for it, and the days he went.

Frank Ahrens: I understand your visceral response but let me play devil's advocate: If your job was to monitor the media industry, wouldn't it behoove you to get outside the Beltway and see some of it firsthand, being able to talk to ordinary folks and small media businesses that couldn't afford Washington lobbyists? I wrote a story about the industry-paid junkets and the FCC said that all were cleared through the FCC's ethics office firsthand, with several being turned down. Further, the FCC's annual travel budget is about $2 million...not a lot when you want to send your engineers to Brazil, for instance, to help them implement a transition to digital TV and explain our standards to them. I think it would be wrong to think of these as vacations.

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Glover Park, Washington, D.C.: Great to have you back chatting about the media!

So is this deregulation the last nail in the coffin for the american media, or will it be the catalyst for an increasingly popular alternative media (mostly internet based). While this ruling is really horrible for the public interest, I personally think it would be even worse if it came in the days before the net.

Frank Ahrens: Your Internet observation is an important one. Many of the advocates of this deregulation have pointed to the Internet as an effective competitor to broadcast networks and newspapers. And it's true, the Internet is a boundless universe of stuff. However, it's also true that most people still get their local news from their local newspaper and television station and theirs are often the most-visited local Internet sites. It's not like dozens of independently staffed, reporter-rich local-news sites have sprung up on the Internet.

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Orlando, Fla.: Bearing in mind that the airwaves are the property of the public and their use is licensed theoretically in service to the public good, can you anticipate any potential benefits that might be enjoyed by the public because of the increased consolidation of broadcast media outlets that will result from this rule change? Will anything good possibly come from this for the American television viewer or radio listener?

Frank Ahrens: The Republicans on the FCC argued that the record shows that, for instance, in smaller markets where you have two struggling, independently owned television stations, neither of which is able to provide news, a common ownership and the efficiencies that come with it enables both to be more robust and perhaps provide local news. It is in the interest of local stations to do local news, btw, because it is so heavily watched and advertisers love it.
On the other hand, there are situations where one company has bought two stations and eliminated expensive programming, such as news. That's a concern.

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New York, NY: Why is Rupert Murdoch being used as the poster boy by the critics of this vote?

Frank Ahrens: Good question. His company, News Corp., is actually a small player compared to AOL Time Warner and Disney. But Murdoch is a colorful, outspoken, politically conservative media baron. Who, most importantly, owns the Fox News Channel, which is seen by many to have a conservative bias. Many of the people and groups opposing further media consolidation are politically liberal and I think it's safe to say they see Murdoch as a danger, i.e., if he's allowed to buy more TV stations, etc., he'll continue to spread his brand of conservative politics, which they disagree with. The other point of view is the following: There is little denial that Fox News is a true alternative to news on the broadcast networks, CNN, MSBNC and so forth. So what Murdoch has done with the channel is provide *more* diversity of ideas to the marketplace. They just happen to be ideas that some folks disagree with.

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Charlottesville, Va.: How big does a market have to be for a company to own both the local daily newspaper and the local TV station?

Frank Ahrens: All but the smallest 30 or so markets in the U.S., which means most of them.

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Centreville, Va.: Does the Washington Post now plan to align itself with a network or cable television company, as well as a radio broadcast company to increase its ability to compete against other brands that will now be allowed roll out a similar strategy?

If so, will we see Apache Helicopters with Washington Post painted on the side, hovering above our crowded interstates while giving the morning traffic reports, readily equipped to fight off any "Fox" aircraft encroaching in its air space?

Will the "embedded journalist" exercises during the War against Iraq prove to be valuable training for future attempts to gain market share in territories around the world where the likes of Al Jazeera or China Central Television already have majority ownership?

Can we expect to see companies like the Carlyle Group, who invest heavily in military defense contracting, to eventually buy their way into the broadcast media industry as well, only to capitalize on the synergies that exist between news reporting and the vehicles to obtain quality leads?

Frank Ahrens: I like the way this person thinks! You've got a future in strategic media acquisition!
First off, The Post Co. already owns 6 television stations, though none in cities where we own papers. We used to own WTOP radio and what is now WUSA TV but sold them to comply with the cross-ownership rules when they were implemented in the '70s. Would we want to buy them, or others back, now? Good question. Don Graham maintains a poker face every time I ask him.
We also own a small cable company, Cable One, in the South and West, but there's no synergies of content between us and them that I'm aware of.
However, we do exploit lots of partnerships already. For instance, we have a relationship with NBC/MSBNC/CNBC where Post reporters go on to talk about their stories. Also NewsChannel 8, which is owned by Allbritton, which owns Channel 7 here. And our reporters sometimes appear on the Jacksonville station we own. Also, some of our stories appear in the Euro and Asian editions of the Wall Street Journal.

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Great Falls, Va.: Does Monday's FCC ruling loosen the ownership restrictions for radio stations, as well as TV stations? I read somewhere that the FCC Staff recommended tightening the ownership restrictions for radio at the same time it recommended loosening the limitations for TV. I sure hope there's room left for a few locally owned radio stations, at least in smaller markets. I'm sick of 25-song corporate cookie-cutter music formats with no creativity or risk-taking in the programming!

Frank Ahrens: Good question. The FCC's Monday action actually somewhat tightens the radio rules going forward. Congress essentially lifted the national radio ownership caps in 1996, allowing companies like Clear Channel and Infinity to scoop up lots of stations. It set the limit for local ownership in the biggest cities, like Washington, at 8 stations. Those limits stay intact. But what the FCC did on Monday was redraw what it calls the radio market maps. Not to get too technical, but the radio maps used to be based on signal reach, which allowed loopholes for ownership, which is how Clear Channel is allowed to own all the stations in Minot, N.D. (It is N.D., right?), which has been the poster boy arguing against such clustering. Going forward, such local consolidation should be impossible. Current statinos over the new ownership caps are grandfathered in but part of Monday's action says that if a company wants to sell its stations that exceed the cap, and wants to sell them as a group, they must sell them to "small businesses," which are frequently women- and minority-owned.

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Potomac, Md.: "We also own a small cable company, Cable One."
For the record, that small cable company is the 9th largest cable operator in the country!

Frank Ahrens: Ooops! Sounds like our Cable One CEO Tom Mite is online! My bad!
Cable One has about 750,000 subscribers, if I'm right, compared to what? About 22 million for Comcast/AT&T?

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New York, N.Y.: You mentioned minority views. I seriously doubt that any mainstream paper would print a real minority view. When is the last time you saw a "minority view" or non-mainstream view in the WSJ, or the NYT Op-Ed page? There are strident critics of everything but they never get access, and this will only make things worse. Would the WP print a scathing criticism of the Bush tax plan by someone like me or maybe Stephen Roach, chief economist of Morgan Stanley (who published a piece call "Historic Blunder" about it several weeks ago?) No, and there are many farther out dissenters who decry what is going on with the GOP strategy to financially undermine the US economy as a political strategy, but they have no voice. Business comes first, protecting the franchise and avoiding any controversy.

Frank Ahrens: Well, I don't know who you are, but I will say that Fred Hiatt, our editorial page editor, fairly examines all op-ed pieces that come his way. It is a convenient conspiracy theory to say that the so-called "corporate media," like The Post, NBC, etc. quash views that oppose their corporate agenda, but I have never seen it here.

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Omaha, Nebraska: Saw you on C-SPAN yesterday!

Do you think the media was slow to pick up on this story? The first I heard of it was about a week before the decision on "Nightline." Or is it just more of the short-attention-span syndrome?

Frank Ahrens: I'm big in Omaha!
It's been a fair criticism by opponents of this FCC action that the major media, especially the broadcast networks, have been slow to pick up on this. For one, it makes terrible television--meetings? Process?
But in defense of the print side, I would say that I've written several stories in recent weeks, as have my rivals at the NY Times, the LA Times, the WSJournal, etc. This is a story that lends itself better to print than video, I'm afraid.

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Arlington, Va.: This is an outrage - what can concerned citizens do at this point (after they've already sent a deluge of mail to the FCC)? Is there any way to reverse this before the damage is done?

Frank Ahrens: You should write your member of congress. There are separate bills in each house that aim to set the national TV station ownership cap at 35 pct. of the audience, as opposed to 45 pct., where the FCC set it yesterday.

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Virginia: Frank - This may be inside ball, but I'll give it a try. As a print journalist do you cringe at participating in the convergence of local TV stations and newspapers, like I do? In other words, do you consider TV to be your competitor for scoops, not your colleague? I'm sure the TV news got better in markets where the station had the same owner as the paper; but what did the paper get out of the deal? Thanks.

Frank Ahrens: That's a great question to ask a print reporter!
Since I've been a newspaper guy, I've seen the creation of the Internet and the infiltration of TV cameras into newsrooms--we have an actual set in The Post newsroom, which you may have seen on C-Span, MSNBC, NewsChannel 8, etc. Often times, a reporter has a breaking story and they're asked to write a short version of it for our Web site, Washingtonpost.com, then go back to writing it for the next day's newspaper then go on TV that evening to talk about it! In theory, this is all more work and it comes with no additional pay, which is an item of contention in lots of newsrooms around the country. But you asked about scoops. We don't scoop ourselves on TV, though producers at NBC, MSNBC and CNBC are given heads-ups about what stories our reporters are working on that theoretically are not passed onto their reporters. Also, each day one of our foreign editors gives editors at the Euro and Asian WSJournal a list of a dozen or so stories we're going to have in The Post the next day so they can pick ones that they don't want, again, not passing our scoops onto WSJournal reporters. It's a strange new frontier of competition and cooperation.

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Rockville, Md.: While it's easy to get in a big froth about yesterday's vote to ease media ownership restrictions, it is inevitable that this will get bogged down in the courts. The show ain't over yet.

But what is striking about this whole thing is the divisive and hidebound manner in which Michael Powell forced this through.

No matter that the public input was overwhelmingly against it by a huge margin, and that many business interests are against it; it's railroaded into passage as if waiting another New York minute would bring disastrous consequences.

I for one hope that the lasting legacy of Mr. Powell's time at the FCC is as it should be -- a horrible era. The FCC is an agency that is charged with a public trust; that being the finite TV and radio spectrum, as well as ensuring diverse points of view have a way of being heard.

Mr. Powell and his fellow Republican commissioners who refused to allow public input any consideration at all are a disgrace to the FCC and to all who believe in a functional democracy.

The irony is that America loves to criticize other nations for their restrictions on a free media, while here we are at home working to a similar end.

Because let's face it, it doesn't much matter how many gazillion sources we have for news etc., if they are all owned by a handful of business tycoons.

Anyone want to debate on Andrew Carnegie? Rupert Murdoch?

Frank Ahrens: See? We're all about diverse viewpoints...

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Arlington, Va.: Frank, Did the FCC change any rules governing foreign ownership of U.S. media outlets?

Frank Ahrens: Nope.

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McLean, Va.: Frank,

It's nice to see your mug Online again. Putting together the past year or so you've spent studying media business with your experience as The Listener, do you see television following radio into the situation where nearly all stations are alike, and just have different call letters so you can differentiate which of the monoliths is controlling all that you see and hear?

Any chance of you coming back Online on a regular basis?

Frank Ahrens: There's a possibility but I think this situation is different than radio and here's why: In 1996, Congress lifted the national ownership caps on how many radio stations a company could buy. This led to Clear Channel owning 1,200 stations that reach about half of the U.S. ears per day. Yesterday, the FCC raised the national television station ownership cap from 35 percent of the national audience to 45 percent. If this were an analog to 1996 and radio, it would have eliminated the cap altogether. It did not. Also, there was a lot more acquisition money floating around in the late '90s than today. The key struggle in the national television station ownership debate is the tension between network-owned stations and indie affiliates. The indies wanted to keep the cap at 35 pct. because they want control over their local programming. They fear that if nets are allowed to buy more stations, they'll have overwhelming muscle to force affiliates to run "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" when local affiliates don't want to run it, fearing it will offend the local community.

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Kansas City, Mo.: When you state that,"the biggest point that Powell made... is that many of the current media ownership rules on the books are essentially unenforceable because they've been tossed out by court for faulty reasoning. Which means that there has in effect been no national cap on how many TV stations a network can buy. Powell says that yesterday's rule actually sets a legally defensible cap that prevents networks from buying too many stations, which is in the public interest.

That logic sounds like - a lot of people speed so why have limits? If there is a basis for maintaining some measure of diversity in media markets to promote a healthy democracy, then by God why not work to legislate and create regulations that will pass the courts test and not just throw in the towel?

Right now, I'm seeing little need for an FCC. It isn't doing anything to protect the concept on which it was created.

Frank Ahrens: Well, I think Powell thinks what he *did* do was set limits, for instance at 45 pct. He did not say there were no need for limits. He did not tell broadcast networks they can buy all the TV stations they want.

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Arlington, Va.: Does Congress have the final vote?

Frank Ahrens: The FCC is an independent agency, though congress has oversight. Congress can act to codify, or set in law, certain FCC rules, such as the 35 percent cap, essentially taking it out of the hands of the FCC. There is a danger in this in that even though the FCC is political...the commission is made up of political appointees...it is not, nor should it be, as subject to political and public pressure as congress.

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Arlington, Va.: First of all, everyone is overreacting to this. The FCC actually wrote a balanced order based on a fully developed record. This decision by the FCC was necessary in light of recent court rulings that have decimated the ownership rules currently on the books. Furthermore, the changes are not huge. This is not wholescale deregulation. Its a restatement of the rules taking into account the changes of the 21st century. Merill Lynch just came out with a new report stating that the media landscape is not likely to change much based on this decision. Also, let me clarify for you one erroneous point you made, Minot, ND, has 8 stations, Clear Channel owns 6, not, in fact, ALL of the stations. Plus, Clear Channel is very unhappy with the Commission's decision, take a look at the comments they filed in the record. Lastly, even one of the Democratic Commissioners, who voted against the order has publicly admitted that the Ownership Cap should be raised from 35 to 40% (it was raised to 45%).

Frank Ahrens: More diverse views....Thanks for the cx on Minot...at least I got it in the right state.

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New York City: What on earth are these FCC/GOP people thinking? The FCC/Powell has behaved like a Stalinist bureaucracy in denying even a semblance of equal access or public hearings ( only 1 in Richmond VA?!!! Since when is that city a media capital and a center for divergent views?) on this important issue.
There are many highly disgruntled people who have no ability to be heard, and lots of information is simply not heard at all, thereby weakening the knowledge base for good decision making by the public. Michael Powell runs the risk of creating a huge backlash as the monopolictic cozy inside crowd runs roughshod over our democracy. Look at the Iraq issue; almost no dissenting voices were allowed to be heard, and now we know that there were no WMDs, just copious pro-war propaganda by the Bushies. What can we do?
(A concerned investment banker in Manhattan)

Frank Ahrens: I'll post any statement that uses "Stalinist."
You can talk to your congress person. But you, most importantly, as an investment banker, can refuse to lend money to pay for more foolish media deals, the likes of which have run up billions in debt at companies like AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal, Clear Channel and so forth.

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Alexandria, Va.: I can think of lots of exceptions to the current ownership rules. Take Paducah, Ky. The Paxton family owns the local newspaper and the local NBC affiliate, which happens to be one of only 3 stations serving portions of four states. Why were there so many of these exceptions, and if they were so common, why all the hubbub about the FCC vote?

Frank Ahrens: There are about 50 markets in the U.S. that were granted waivers from the 1978 newspaper-TV cross-ownership rules if they could prove the FCC that the waivers were required to keep lots of news outlets in business. Yesterday's action would allow cross-ownership in most U.S. cities.

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Washington, DC: What happens when, sometime down the road, a Democratic majority on the FCC ratchets things back down to the previous cap? What do Viacom and News Corp and others do then? Would they have to sell enough stations to meet the new cap?

Frank Ahrens: It's a good question, but unfortunately I've only got speculation. I can tell you that the FCC is charged with reviewing its media rules every two years, so there is a chance that things will be change. We'll know if Powell and Co. did their homework when the next review rolls around and see what stands.

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Sioux Falls: Will this lead to one or two media giants that own newspaper, cable and broadcast tv?

Frank Ahrens: I think that's extreme. All mergers must still be approved by the FCC for public interest benefits and the Dept. of Justice to make sure they don't violate anti-trust laws. Remember, just last year, both bodies killed the proposed merger between EchoStar and DirecTV, the nation's two biggest home-satellite TV providers, saying it was neither in the public interest nor legal; that it would create a monopoly. Now, Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp is attempting to buy DirecTV, which opponents say would create a too-powerful combination of programming (Fox) and distribution (DirecTV). That merger must pass the FCC and DOJ and it seems likely it will, probably with modifications, because EchoStar will still be an indie-owned competitor.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: After the vote last night, Chairman Powell was interviewed on the increasingly openly conservative 'Kudlow & Cramer.' During which Powell said, and I paraphrase, that even though five companies control almost a combined 85% of our major media, he sees no reason to punish companies for having a popular product. However if viewers don't have a choice, of course ratings will be high for those few dominant corporations because that's all you can watch. Is Powell really this myopic, or is he deliberately trying to tell us that we'll be better off with more Hearst and Murdoch-esqe media empires controlling what we see and hear?

Frank Ahrens: The one thing you have to remember about Powell is that he LOVES television. He is a 30something who grew up with three networks and PBS and when he can go home and sit down in front of his satellite TV and spin through hundreds of channels, he sees nothing BUT choice.
What's key to remember here is that this whole thing came down to a debate on: Does it really matter who owns the media and do multiple owners mean multiple voices?

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Reston, Va.: What did you think of Clear Channel's comments yesterday?

A statement issued by CC Pres./COO MARK MAYS, said that the company is "deeply disappointed with today's FCC vote to re-regulate the radio industry. While the FCC is supposed to act in the public interest, today they missed the mark by a mile. This FCC action will extinguish the substantial consumer benefits brought on by radio deregulation in 1996 ... instead of letting radio stations find better and more innovative ways to serve their listeners, the FCC is intent on turning the clock back to a time when the industry was incapable of providing consumers the variety of programming it does today. Unfortunately, the FCC chose politics over the public interest, and American consumers will be the ultimate victims."

Frank Ahrens: Well, I think Clear Channel has little reason to cry about anything, but they have to push their corporate agenda and that's their right and responsibility to shareholders. Clear Channel is not forced to sell any stations because of yesterday's action. They may not be able to continue acquiring them as they had, though.

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Washington DC: Ever since ClearChannel bought up thousands of radio stations there has been a noticeable change in radio broadcasting in my opinion. For example, no matter what format the station has, the same man's voice does all the promos, and it is disturbing. What are your thoughts on this and the recent ruling?

Frank Ahrens: Well, that's why I bought XM satellite radio. If Eleanor can find it, she can put up the link to the WashPost Sunday magazine story I wrote on radio in January. El?

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Youngstown, Ohio: What impact does this chang have on minority owned radio stations and on diverse communities ability to have issues heard?

Frank Ahrens: Black members of congress and the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters has opposed these changes, saying that they would harm minority-owned business, typically smaller, from entering or expanding into a landscape dominated by giants.
On the other hand, black-owned companies such as Lanham's Radio One, which expanded greatly after the national radio ownership limits were lifted, and Bob Johnson's BET, which sold to Viacom for a couple billion bucks, have benefited greatly from consolidation.

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washingtonpost.com: Transcript: Frank Ahrens on Post Magazine's "Why Radio Stinks"

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Annandale, Va.: I have been learning a ton a bout the state of the media. I just graduated from James Madison University and my last semester there I took a media criticism class. I guess my main question is, how can someone like myself...a media "citizen" (rather than a media "consumer") get more involved in this sort of legislation and policy making? It is very discouraging to hear Michael Powell say things like "we can't really rely on all the comments we get from the public." So, what then? How do we speak up when we are not being heard?

Frank Ahrens: Good to hear from someone so interested. You can and should contact your congress person. You can and should contact the FCC. (To be fair to Powell, he's not discounting public opinion. What he's saying is, he has to write law that stands up in court and that has to be based on facts and studies and previous case law; if lots of people want or don't want something, that won't hold up a law in court. What it can do is persuade lawmakers to change the law or make new laws, which is why it's more important for congress rather than the FCC to be deluged with public comment.)
And you can monitor alternative news sites...there are plenty on the Web...that purport to offer news not covered by the corporate media like, well, like me. It's a good idea to sample from the media buffet.

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Barnesville, MD: Ah, Mr. Ahrens, I think you have hit the nail on te head. In a previous comment you note that it has been through these mergers that many Stalinist (just checking) media giants have run up huge amounts of debt. My problem is that the solution to their mounting debt involved bemoaning, both to the courts and to the FCC, that the rules limiting ownership are preventing them from making money! Who are they kidding?!?

Frank Ahrens: 'Zactly.

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Washington, D.C.: Mr. Ahrens,
What does this ruling mean for a person like me?
I read the NY Times and the Washington Post regularly.
I don't listen to commercial radio.
I DO listen to public radio.
I sometimes watch network or public TV news shows (local or national).
I visit various Internet sites (CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS) for other news stories.
And I don't have cable TV or a satellite dish, if that makes a difference.

Frank Ahrens: I think your experience will be largely unchanged in the short-term. Eventually, I wouldn't be surprised to see, let's say, Washington Post news and reporters on, let's say, Channel 7, if we bought them. But you already see WashPost reporters on NewsChannel 8. In the New York Times, you may see some evidence of property cross-pollination, as they acquire TV stations.
You have insulated yourself pretty well from the big Media Pipeline, I must say.
Let me just stick in a little rant here: My opinion on television is that if you *don't* have cable or satellite, you're missing all the best quality that TV has to offer. If you've only got the broadcast networks, you're getting "Joe Millionaire" and "Fear Factor" (and, to be fair, "Law and Order" and "24") but you're missing the terrific shows on the History Channel, A&E, Discovery, Bravo, the classic movie channels, all the cable news channels, C-Span and not to mention HBO, which probably has the best entertainment on TV.
Just my little rant.

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Frank Ahrens: That's going to do it for today, folks. I've got to get to writing for tomorrow.
I am encouraged that there is so much interest in the media. It's proof of a robust democracy.
Thanks!

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washingtonpost.com:

That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.

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© Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company

 

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