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Media consolidation has wreaked havoc with local radio.

  • Jan 21, 2010
The genie is out of the bottle.  Over the past 15 years our radio and television stations, newspapers and magazines have been gobbled up by a handful of media conglomerates.  Turn on the radio in just about any city in this nation and you will hear the same tired and unimaginative programming.  Local content has largely been eliminated on a good many of these stations and the number of commercials has increased dramatically.   In many of our largest cities media companies are allowed to operate up to 8 radio stations, 3 televisions stations, cable TV service and even the local newspaper.  It is an alarming state of affairs to say the least!   In his new book "Fighting For Air: The Battle To Control America's Media" author Eric Klinenberg brings these critical issues to our attention.  While the American public has been asleep at the switch our President,  the Congress and those who are supposed to regulate such matters have allowed companies like Clear Channel, Entercom, Citadel and Infinity to gobble up our local media.  If you have grown tired of all of the canned programming and recognize the importance that local media outlets have played throughout American history then "Fighting For Air" is a book you should definitely consider.

So how did this happen?  Over the past two decades our government has been "deregulating" media.  At one time, no company was allowed to own more than one television station in a community.  The number of radio stations were also strictly regulated.  And the FCC would never have allowed a company that owned a major daily newspaper to own a television station in the same town.  All of this began to change in the 1980's as broadcasters cried poverty and declared that they were having a difficult time turning a profit.  There was some truth to this claim, particularly for small to medium size AM radio stations.  Broadcasters petitioned to have ownership restrictions relaxed and as you will see the deregulation of our media began in earnest in the late 80's.  Perhaps the most dramatic and controversial measure was the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  In one fell swoop the Republican Congress and President Clinton's FCC chose to eliminate the national station ownership limit altogether and raised local limits from four to as many as eight radio stations in some communities.  As a result of this legislation, Clear Channel now controls more than 1200 local radio stations in the United States.  A funny thing happened as local radio and television stations were gobbled up by the media giants...local programming began to disappear.  The change is most noticable on the radio where thousands of local hosts have been let go.  Talk shows that used to focus on local issues have been replaced by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.  In many markets your local afternoon drive host has been replaced by Ryan Seacrest.  And that guy giving you the weather on your local TV station may be based in a city hundreds or maybe even thousands of miles from your town.

Eric Klinenberg does an outstanding job of framing these issues for his readers.  There is so much at stake here.  It matters not your political persuasion.  Each and every one of us has lost something precious.  It is high time that the American people began to fight back! "Fighting For Air: The Battle To Control America's Media" is a great way to educate yourself about these extremely important issues.  But we face an uphill fight.  For obvious reasons you will never hear or see these issues discussed and debated on the major networks nor will you see them written about in the leading newspapers in this country.  Once you understand this, you will then begin to realize why so many Americans are convinced that the short-sighted and irresponsible consolidation of the media should rank as the top issues in Congress. We must demand accountability from our elected officials.  This is a comprehensive and well written book.    Highly recommended!
Media consolidation has wreaked havoc with local radio. Media consolidation has wreaked havoc with local radio.

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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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About this book


For the residents of Minot, North Dakota, Clear Channel Communications is synonymous with disaster. When a train derailment sent a cloud of poisonous gas drifting toward the small town, Minot’s fire and rescue departments attempted to use local radio to warn residents of the approaching threat. But in the age of canned programming, there was no one at the six local non-religious commercial stations, all owned by Clear Channel, to take the call. The result for the people of Minot: one death and more than a thousand injuries.
Opening with the story of the Minot tragedy, Fighting for Air takes us into the world of preprogrammed radio shows, empty television news stations, and copycat newspapers to show how expanding conglomerate ownership of all media has harmed American political and cultural life—and how malign neglect by the federal government allowed it to happen. In a call for action, Fighting for Air also reveals a rising generation of activists and citizen journalists who are insisting on the local coverage we need and deserve.

Eric Klinenberg is an associate professor of sociology at New York University. Author of the acclaimed Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago and the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, Klinenberg has also written for The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Nation, and Slate.
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ISBN-13: 080508729X
Editor: 978-0805087291
Author: Eric Klinenberg
Genre: Communications, Broadcasting, Media And Society, Media Studies
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
Date Published: January 8 2008
Format: Hardcover
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