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Massive cuts coming to Clear Channel....


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A little about Clear Channel. Clear Channel is a perfect example of how consolidation in the broadcasting business has been one of, if not THE most, terrible policy decisions ever. They own approximately 1200 radio stations. There was a day in this country when a company was limited to 12 stations - TOTAL in the country. During the golden heyday of broadcasting, you had diversity, almost total local programming, and not the cookie cutter crap you have today. Like Eric once penned....if you can get it in the "A slot". Today your lucky if you ever get it played. You could call up a DJ, and he would play anything you wanted. Not possible for the most part today.

Not to make a political statement, but Clear Channel is about as right wing as you can get. They make Limbaugh look liberal. They are owned by a family that are personal friends of the Bush's. Not surprising that in many towns (mine included) you can go up and down the dial and all you get is Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck all day long on at least 4 overlapping channels. Whatever your political persuasion, under no stretch of anyone's imagination, is that healthy for the broadcasting business. There was also a time when you could NEVER own overlapping stations. For those of you who are familiar with the Fairness Doctrine....if they ever re-institute this, that is the end of Clear Channel, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, because that is their business plan....their schtick. They could not exist under a fairness doctrine. I should emphasize that any re-institution of the Fairness Doctrine would primarily affect radio, and not cable, so the "fair and balanced network" would probably avoid it because anything goes on cable. Radio has an entirely different legal application. And, the answer is NO, there is not a freedom of speech question because as it comes to radio, it is entirely over government granted frequencies. This is established case law. Can the government do this? You bet they can.

In one humble opinion, years ago broadcasting was a MUCH more civil business. You never had the continual hate and divisiveness you have today. Finally, I would also respectfully submit, that artists would be MUCH, MUCH better off if things were as they use to be, regardless of other problems like file sharing. I know of what I speak.

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I hate the state of radio. I hate Clear Channel and agree with the comments that the cookie cutter format stinks. And I don't listen to much right wing talk radio, though I tend very conservative.

But if The Fairness Doctrine passes, for me we will have gone over an anti-freedom line that is unprecedented

If we only had am radio and over the air TV - there was no cable, or internet, or satellite radio etc (basically like during the old Fairness Doctrine regime), then maybe there would be an argument for it....MAYBE.

But IMHO The Fairness Doctrince is a Nazi-like tactic to squelch freedom of speech...to squelch speech that The Fairness Doctrine's proponents don't like.

I've never felt this way before, but if that thing passes, I think I will formally revolt..

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I'm not making any statement for or against the Fairness Doctrine, but I do understand the basis from which it emulates. The whole idea essentially is that the airwaves belong to the American public. That they are a finite resource, and that is what makes them different from print or cable, and that no one group or ideology should control the distribution. We already have anti-trust laws for everything else, and indeed many newspaper or print mergers have been blocked. The Fairness Doctrine was the law of the land for years and upheld by the courts many times over.

IMHO, the situation was not nearly as bad when there were caps on station ownership, but it was still in place even then. I became extremely exasperated when they kept lifting the ownership rules.

I wonder how we would feel say, perhaps, if a rich Muslim group from an oil rich country bought up control of radio stations (foreign ownership was also once not allowed-Rupert Murdock originally had a lot of trouble getting control of broadcast facilities because he at the time was not an American citizen and I still am not sure that he has citizenship-he may have)and started broadcasting ideology that was offensive to some? Would we still feel the same? Broadcast licenses are unique They do not belong to Clear Channel or anyone else. They belong to the American people. They are a "public trustee" of an American resource. That, by the way, is how it is in every other country. Try as an American to get a radio license anywhere else in the world. Good luck.

Essentially all the Fairness Doctrine means is that one must give other points of view on public owned facilities. Again, not making any political statements, but I would respectfully submit that if stations had to give alternative opinions, it would not harm CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, or Public Radio anywhere near as much as it would Clear Channel or Fox News. That is why they are so adamantly against it.

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In the old days, you could argue the public airwaves were a more formal public trust, and should be heavily regulated, because they were very finite in number (AM, FM, over the air TV). This isn't the situation now. The number of outlets to get an opinion out is infinite (AM, FM, over the air TV, cable, satellite radio, internet etc).

I love NPR and public TV because its serious, creative (see Prairie Home Companion) and the antithesis of cheap commercialness. It's what I listen to, and I contribute money to both.

Having said that, NPR is an abomination in that it is supported by all via our taxes, and it is left wing, and maybe becoming extreme left wing (the anti-Israel radicals calling in one after another the other day was disturbing). The same thing can be said about public TV(see Bill Moyers, Tavis Smiley...and no counterparts to the Right).

Again, I'm a fan, but the only "unfairness" in broadcasting is NPR and public TV in that they are to the Left, but the full populace is forced to support them.

You don't have to support Rush Limbaugh if you choose not to. Our friend Hollies is forced by law to support NPR.

That's what's unfair.

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I don't see how the fairness doctrine could be enforced today.If you rely on reported violations, you would have millions coming in from both sides.Would you set up a commission to moniter every radio or tv station in every market? However, I do believe that some ownership limitaions should be brought back to restore some competition.

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The problems began with a ruling that came during the Clinton administration in 1996. It essentially increased the number of radio stations one company could own in any given market very significantly. That was the beginning of the Clear Channel and Viacom stranglehold on radio programming. If you go back to 1981, I think the deregulation actually began during the Reagan administration.

In case you haven't noticed, deregulation appears to be nothing more than a way for the big guys to put the little guys out of business.. It ruined the airline business and it ruined radio, as well.

It was, however, a boon to Clear Channel and Viacom.


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It's my take that airline deregulation was a huge success. If I recall right, quasi-monopolies on routes were abolished (and maybe some price supports too), resulting in open competion. Prices plummetted and flying was opened to all.

I grew up in a wealthy family and we did our share of flying as kids. I remember my mom dressing us up in suits to fly, and my recollection is that most all the other passengers were people like us.

Now when you fly it's basically a cross section of most all economic segments. Everyone can fly now. That's a (real) good thing.

Deregulation works overall, IMHO. When you think of the economics of the radio business, it makes total sense to consolidate (sharing fixed costs, sharing a sales force, providing a deeper menu of product for advertisers etc).

In the end I guess, it's the little guys like us (buyers) that will determine what kind of product we get. If we stop listening to the Clear Channel crap (and it is crap), good product will emerge as there will be demand. Or if we start businesses and run them with a conscience (and not pander to mass culture), things will get better.

For you guys that are local, there's a great little independant station in NW Indiana (WJOB) that is owned by one guy, he hosts the morning drive talk show himself...he's committed to the community...there's very few commercials (I advertise on there some). It's anachronistic in that (at least the morning show) it is old time radio...no fancy jingles...no frills...completely local oriented subject matter....no smooth talking hosts etc. Just the real deal.

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How can you say deregulation was a success when almost every airline is either on the verge of, or already in Chapter 11? The cost of an airline ticket is more expensive every day, and there are more restrictions and fewer flights. I don't think anyone in their right mind would think of buying stock in an airline. As the recession continues, I fully expect to see the airline industry pleading for a government bailout, just like the automakers.

What we REALLY need, in this country, is a rail system like the bullet trains in Japan, but every time it's been brought up, the airline lobbies have killed it.

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Deregulation came down in the late 70s. The result was ticket prices became/are (much) lower than they were pre-regulation, and passenger #s are way up. If you sat at an airport gate 35 years ago you'd have seen wealthy white people waiting to board. If you sat at an aiport gate today, you'd see a cross section of America. Everybody flies now. That wasn't the case pre-regulation. That's succes to me.

Southwest Airlines is a phenomenal airline. They provide the best service I've ever seen, charge low prices, their employees love the company, AND it makes money! It can be done.

I'm looking at this over time, over the long term, not just through the microscope of the last few years where there have been external (911, fuel price hikes etc) that have affected the industry.

Almost always, if you let the market work, things turn out better, IMHO.

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