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3/5 of the FCC Commission Hold 'Official' Hearing in Monterey

In 1998 Michael Powell, the FCC chairman, gave a speech where he described ‘waiting for the ‘Angels of the public interest’ to show up and express their opinions concerning FCC regulation issues’. He said they didn’t come. Banking again on public apathy Powell later invited us to give feedback on the FCC’s performance.

Much to his dismay, 2.3 million people petitioned to protest the FCC’s policies and relaxation of regulations.

The ‘Angels of the public interest’ who attended the poorly publicized and oddly located Monterey FCC hearing for the ‘entire western United States’ showed up last night. Powell didn’t.

[ FCC and Media Monopolists Face Hot Criticism at Monterey Hearing (Indybay coverage) ]

[ Angels in Monterey I Score one for The People! I Photos: 1 - 2 I Coverage of FCC Hearing I Public Comments I Selected Citizen Comments I DaveyD's comments I Sprouts: Broadcast Localism I FRSC news coverage on KSBW I Watsonville To Get All Hawaiian LPFM Station? ]
(Television, the Opiate of the Masses photo by Emily Hell)

Previous hearings have been held in Charlotte, NC; San Antonio, TX; and Rapid City, SD. Of these Powell showed up in Clear Channel hometown San Antonio, Texas, and Richmond, Virginia; the latter is down the street from where he lives.

The Monterey meeting was attended by Commissioners Kathleen Aberbathy, Michael Copps, and Jonathan S. Adelstein. Congruent with public meetings as we know them, the commissioners got unlimited time for their remarks, followed by the selected panels (whose time was limited to 5 minutes for each member). Finally the public was allowed to speak; each speaker for a few moments (was it one minute or two?). Those who were the angriest went over their allotted time and were admonished by the moderator.

Exerpts From Commissioners Opening Remarks

Copps – Joined in expressing cascading national concern over deeply troubling trends in the media. The 3rd circuit court and the congress rejected these trends but sent their reports right back to the FCC that had commissioned them. It will be an uphill battle in getting the FCC to know that the ultimate reality show is not ‘how many bugs someone on an island can eat’.

Adelstein -- Quoted the comments by the 3rd circuit court. describing the FCC’s rules as ‘inconsistent and incoherent’.

Exerpts from Invited Panel I Testimony

Chair of the Hispanic chamber of commerce called for commitment and compassion instead of corporations, conglomerates, and consolidations. She called for local studios to be a part of neighborhoods – to establish contact with community leaders. Reward licensees who participate in political process. Local self expression (growth, self-dignity).

From a statement by Phil Kaplan (read by Dean Saltzman) – Of the 122 top 50 media markets only 44% carried any campaign coverage in the last 2 weeks of political campaigns., Strategy was emphasized, not issues. Coverage segments were 90 seconds long on the average. There was a 4-1 ration ofcampaign ads to campaign stories. 15% of all campaign coverage focussed on local races.

The 45 stations owned by large corporations had less campaign coverage than the smaller stations who beat the national campaign coverage average.

Even though in 1998 a voluntary standard of 5 minutes of political discourse was recommended., there is an average of 74 seconds of this coverage per night.

Our Airwaves our Democracy act. was cited as a good step.

Postcard renewal is ‘a joke’, Coordinate renewal with compliance to the public interest.

Sean McGlaughlin – (Hawaii) – Brought up the loss of Watsonville radio station to a commercial station playing Hawaiian music – said it ‘wasn’t right’. Called for a requirement for local programming to balance syndicated shows.

Tweedle (Bonneville) – KOIT KDFC KCBR– touted corporate media.

Commisioners Response To Panel I

Copps - Transition to DTV is opportunity to create localism –asked if it required regulation instead of leaving it up to the ‘magic of the marketplace’. The pro-deregulation response was ‘people will determine what they want to watch’ --- This brought boos from the crowd.

Adelstein- Referred to the Kaplan remarks… study out for years—if it’s wrong refute it if not do something about it because it’s outrageous. After raking in 1.2 billion dollars in political advertising it’s pitiful for the public to have to ask for 5 minutes coverage a night. What we apparently have is market failure.

Exerpts from Invited Panel II Testimony

Mr. Pappas - Big 4 network programming enjoy regulations which require local stations to carry a certain amount of their programming. In 1960’s they promised if they were given protection they would provide football programming free—today most of NFL is on paid TV.

Mr. Connelly – Clear Channel is voice tracking 70% of broadcasts from a central location. Called for a full scheduling of hearings with the chairman present. (large ovation from the crowd).

Kathy Baker – KWAV KIDD Buckley radio (owners) – Her station ‘answers to main street not to wall st.’ Smart business is being local – right way and the smart way. More corporate media touting.

Davey D.- Described the radio business as ‘smoke and mirrors’ – good at selling things and crunching numbers. The average person doesn’t know what goes on behind the scenes; very few dj’s on a professional level will speak out – he had to give up his severance packages to keep speaking –you’ll get managers painting rosy pictures.— all the changes that are being talked about –these changes aren’t institutionalized – you can find examples of compliance here and there. It just can’t be nice guys doing you a favor (huge applause) – halls are packed at these hearings but volunteer compliance doesn’t eliminate the problems. Often times radio plays a winner takes all mentality. If 51% agrees with the consolidation – what about the other 49% -- we live in a country where we’re supposed to vigorously debate the issues – ex. – chicago, cleveland , detroit – launched boycotts like ’ turn of the radio campaign ‘ – you don’t see this being covered in the media. In San Francisco after 911 Clearc Channel ran a ‘give to Clear Channel fund’ to be patrioiotic – but they didn’t cover elections or do voter campaigns etc. – this is serious business with 5 minutes to explain---all these people who did studies running back and forth and the problems they’ve faced – they’re not even here to tell you about it. Goes beyond a few sound bites and a hearing. There are serious prices for people on the inside to pay who speak out – blackballed in the industry – you don’t see them here at these hearings. 20 something year olds did a hip hop study looking at who was played on what stations – passed it out but it was not covered. When changes started to come – those who organized were punished, and were not aired (huge applause for this point).

Saldivar (Latina) – KHDC manager– community based station. Talked about the growing need for ethnic control. 34% of the population in California is Latino and expected to double from 1998 by 2025 – it will be the largest ethnic group in California. She stressed thatpeople want to listen to radio in their preferred language. For many this is Spanish.

Robbins – Guy who puts out the emergency alerts. With the centralization of the media more and more ‘If I got to get to audience at 10 at night I probably won’t be able to get there’. Notification of changes hard to get when the media outlet is not local. For example; a primary alert station did not inform him of changes of frequency.

Trumbly – (President - Community Broadcast Association) . (low-powered class A stations – typically locally owned and operated) – amount of power is limited by the FCC. These stations are required to have 3 hours of local programming a week (only class required to do so). More minority owned/operated than all other media combined.

Commisioners Response To Panel II

Copps – best and most eloquent statements we’ve heard anywhere.
Adelstein – asks Davey D. to elaborate on his remarks.
Davey D. – you get people that now start to use their resources to bully artists, community groups, etc. Artists are afraid to interview on the new stations and threatened by boycott from clear channel venues if they do so. When is the last time Media Alliance has been on tv or radio – it doesn’t happen—there might be 3-4 public affairs shows on prime time. Jesse Jackson is on 5 AM, Who is listening at 6-7 in the morning on a Sunday (Comm. Aberbathy deflects the point by saying ‘those of us with young children’)?

Statements made during the break:

According to John McManus of the web site, one minute or less of TV news reporting is spent on local elections issues during election time. Because of a digital signal – 1 license will = 6 broadcast channels.

Jeff Perlstein – License renewal comes up every 8 years now and stations send in a postcard – It used to be every 3 years with a public hearing

Exerpts From the Public Testimony

Bellva Davis moderater.

Art Polaski (Federation of workers) – FERC ‘let’s let the market forces dictate energy markets’ ended up in the bankruptcy of this state. Regarding Prop 72 – ( health care for working families) – the corporations will invest millions in advertising -- nothing we can do to match these dollars. Fairness is impossible without regulation.
We don’t have enough teachers – corporations are paying less taxes from which schools are funded.

Marsha Fineland of the peace and freedom party - Fast food industry opposed to 72.

Pappas stood up to make a point and was booed vigorously

Jeff Perlstein – spoke about the 650 people at unofficial SF hearing – 3 rep and chairman didn’t come—The FCC is charged with regulating the public airways – but ‘we’re not going to wait for you to do that’. Called for ‘more teeth in the renewel process’ – fairness doctrine restored – more rent for the airways.
No more media by the rich for the rich.

Indymedia – we’re not talking about ‘how can media serve the people’ – become the media.

Vietnamese community – Hundreds of families have moved out of monterey because they feel left out.

Martha D. – cable and the internet are not equivalent to broadcast – you gotto pay for them. ‘I want a fair shake. If I had a Hollywood agent I would tell them I want my 10%’. 10% of airtime during prime time for public discourse.

A women talked about KSBW’s ‘educational ‘ programming – kenny the shark – ‘we learn about real world sharks’ – problem is no real world sharks that live on land like kenny does.

Ann Simonton – Media watch – overt trivialization of feminist concerns is rampant in mainstream media – 200 women soldiers assaulted by fellow troops not covered. – media’s favorite tool is silence – greed violence women hating – this is not a polite request – we demand!

Michael Swerling – KSCO – There is an anti competitive predatory atmosphere – Clear Channel wants to ‘squish us like a bug’. rollback to 1991 limits – don’t allow companies that own the hardware (braodcast facilities) to own software (programs).

MB labor council – support for media alliance and ksco as well – pointed to the domination of the local media by the walmart campaign in Gilroy

A speaker said ‘We are not fooled by this process of pseudo accountability’ – go back to washington to make your rules – we’ll continue to break them.

A teacher from Columbia – I never see my people represented positively on tv – part of 3.5B tax dollars from plan columbia – (spent in monterey) is not covered – even while it is being discussed in congress this week. Machiavellian corporations advocate teacher accountability – how about corporate accountability. How many of my students are in Iraq? ---- (he was angry and wanted to continue speaking -- sounded like they turned off his microphone).

Man: If my girlfriend wasn’t in a nonprofit I wouldn’t even know this ‘ship of fools’ was happening.

Mark Carbenero (Clear Channel) – our stations do serve this community (booo from crowd) – moving AM from analogue band to digital band IBOC will hurt local stations–

M. Cousins – only incumbent radio (those already with licenses) will make the transition to digital – no new licenses will be granted

A woman played a clip from the ‘Mikey’ show (taped from KSJO Clear Channel station) – ‘4 year old’ Katie (played by an adult actress) was a featured caller on the show. Dallas police investigated (sexual exploitation unit) this San Jose incident (which originated in Dallas). On the same show a kidnapper advice the best way to abduct child victims. Some more from the Mikey show: Is that look of that little girl over there – I’m such a bad boy I like little girls from Hanoi – This show was censored on June 9 – dismissed her complaint with no investigation – as this speaker went over her allotted time the moderator asked if she wanted to apologize to the people in line behind her--

Zach schiller – low power fm student – lpfm causes increase in civic engagement

Oakland ca. == election in 2000 was stolen folks– no reason to believe they’re not gearing up again – we know the role the media played in the 40’s ….

Kathy bisbee – called for the commission to ‘pass a broader net’ – add more hearings –Don’t let anyone fool you with ’cause marketing ‘ - stations do ‘not for profit’ work because it leads to profit work.

Speaker called for a requirement for unedited video rebuttals in the same time slot as the corporate backed information.

Primary responsibility of the large media conglomerates is to make $$ for it’s shareholders. – 100million + spent on lobbying government and all expense paid trips since 1995 for FCC employees.

Margaret smith – comcast subscriber – KSBW – is racist and classist. Her first experience with them was as one of 1000’s of people not able to see Saturday night live (blocked) – because they didn’t want to broadcast Al Sharpton. .They did an editorial supporting Walmart coming to Gilroy – She wrote them to allow a response – got a letter back saying the only people concerned with this issue was ‘labor’.

Arbitron attacks local radio- costs $35,000 a year – rating services recommend using only arbitron stations to advertisers.

Speaker: I heard absolutely nothing about this hearing on my local news broadcast. I think this single fact points to how poorly the community’s needs are being met – This hearing is being held at too large a distance from a major metropolitan area – maybe it could have been held near public transportation .

This speaker countered by 1 station that said they covered the issue thoroughly.

Speaker: Clear Channels is the largest broadcaster of indecency in America. It’s vice president built the Bush presidential library in texas – Bush’s ball team was bought by those involved with Clear Channel – so Bush’s friend are the largest broadcaster of indecency in America

Military family member and ex soldier (stationed in Germany) – listened to military radio: rush limbaugh laura schlessinger (called it the mouthpiece of the bush administration) – sam johnson (rep from tx ) is fighting legislation which would balance this programming

Speaker: One meeting for the entire western area is absurd – it ‘s a vast and varied area with different issues

Barrios Unidos (salinas) –let youth apply for lp radio station it would be a great tool for youth to support youth – let youth operate, influence other youth – ‘I’m asking for a license – I’ve heard all the reasons I can’t do it – but I’m here to tell you why I need it.’

Speaker: Rule (of limited time for public speakers) effectively blocks any substantive statement – it is possible that some of our senators, representatives, and civil servants could be construed to be in collaboration with corporate interests, the military industrial complex, the oil industry, and the controlling media of the country. Should proof of such suspicions arise, we will organize and fight for what is legally ours.

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Re: 3/5 of the FCC Commission Hold 'Official' Hearing in Monterey

thanks for the awesome coverage on SC indymeida!!!
it is so great that even down here in Nica we can read about this and even hear it broadcast live on FREAKRADIO.ORG. All of you rule and I´ll see you all when us sandinistas begin the invasions of the US.... after all, as good ol´ RayGun said, "it´s only a two day march from Midland, Texas" ummmmm...... riiiiiight.


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