• If you’re interested in helping Barack Obama but aren’t flying to Ohio or Texas like Brian and Julia, the Obama campaign is urging supporters in California to make phone calls into Texas this weekend. MoveOn is also running Yes We Can parties on Saturday and Sunday.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told business leaders Thursday he supports a proposal by nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill to rescind $2.7 billion in tax credits, but he later softened that stance and said he doesn’t necessarily support all of her recommendations.
The Governor will be in Columbus this weekend for the Arnold Classic, an annual bodybuilding and fitness event, so if you get a minute, Juls, you can go ask him about this yourself!
• Tired of being bashed with the facts over the past several weeks, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has come out swinging, defending his decision to deny the California waiver to regulate tailpipe emissions on the grounds that global warming is a global problem. Which means, of course, we need to do less to fight it. Also today the EPA turned over documents related to their decision, months after they were requested.
• On a somewhat different note, I’m interested in this protest by the environmental justice community against cap-and-trade solutions such as what is promised in California as unfair to low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by polluting industries that would be able to buy their way into continuing to pollute those areas.
EJ groups, long overlooked in the more mainstream environmental movement, fear that climate legislation will once again disregard the concerns of the communities who are already most affected by the factories and refineries responsible for global warming. In a cap-and-trade system, poor communities, where polluting plants are most often sited, will still bear the brunt of impacts if industries are allowed to trade for rights to pollute there. Instead of this system, they’re advocating a carbon tax, direct emissions reductions, and meaningful measures to move America to clean, renewable energy sources.
“[C]arbon trading is undemocratic because it allows entrenched polluters, market designers, and commodity traders to determine whether and where to reduce greenhouse gases and co-pollutant emissions without allowing impacted communities or governments to participate in those decisions,” says the statement.
I think it’s a powerful argument, and something the environmental movement has to seriously consider. If we’re going to allow polluting industries to pollute, there will be an adverse affect. How do we deal with that?
• In yet another reason why we should not allow the continued consolidation of media, new LA Times owner Sam Zell has now taken to the airwaves, blaming the coming recession on… Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talking about the coming recession. Yeah, shut up already! This is the owner of the largest paper in California requesting what amounts to censorship, incidentally.
• Finally, a federal judge in San Francisco today lifted the injunction on the Wikileaks website, which allowed whistleblowers to post documents and anonymous information about government and corporate malfeasance. A win for the First Amendment and the public interest.
In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S.
in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market. More than 1 in 4 Internet users in the U.S. now log in with AOL Time-Warner, the world’s largest media corporation.
In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was created in 1934 with jurisdiction over radio, interstate telephone communication, and later television. But the FCC has always struggled with a fundamental lack of clarity about its proper functions. In its mission to serve the public interest, should the FCC crack down on indecency on the airwaves? Should it use its power to rescind the licenses of wayward stations?
Get background information on some of the FCC’s more recent decisions below:
Local Radio Ownership Rule, National TV Ownership Rule enacted. A broadcaster cannot own television stations that reach more than 35% of the nation’s homes.
Dual Television Network Rule enacted, prohibiting a major network from buying another major network.
Local TV Multiple Ownership Rule enacted, prohibiting a broadcaster from owning more than one television station in the same market, unless there are at least eight stations in the market.
1981 [Reagan Presidency]
Reagan Administration deregulation under the leadership of FCC Chairman Mark Fowler. Deregulatory moves, some made by Congress, others by the FCC included extending television licenses to five years from three in 1981. The number of television stations any single entity could owngrew from seven in 1981 to 12 in 1985.
1985 [Reagan Presidency]
Guidelines for minimal amounts of non-entertainment programming are abolished. FCC guidelines on how much advertising can be carried per hour are eliminated.
1987 [Reagan Presidency]
“Fairness Doctrine” eliminated. At its founding the FCC viewed the stations to which it granted licenses as “public trustee” – and required that they made every reasonable attempt to cover contrasting points of views.
1996 [Clinton Presidency]
President Clinton signs the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It is generally regarded as the most important legislation regulating media ownership in over a decade. The radio industry experiences unprecedented consolidation after the 40-station ownership cap is lifted.
Does Clinton regret the Media Merger Mania he unleashed?
It’s not clear:
Bill Clinton’s Take On Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal
The Fallout From the Telecommunications Act of 1996
* Lifted the limit on how many radio stations one company could own. The cap had been set at 40 stations. It made possible the creation of radio giants like Clear Channel, with more than 1,200 stations, and led to a substantial drop in the number of minority station owners, homogenization of play lists, and less local news.
* Lifted from 12 the number of local TV stations any one corporation could own, and expanded the limit on audience reach. One company had been allowed to own stations that reached up to a quarter of U.S. TV households. The Act raised that national cap to 35 percent. These changes spurred huge media mergers and greatly increased media concentration. Together, just five companies – Viacom, the parent of CBS, Disney, owner of ABC, News Corp, NBC and AOL, owner of Time Warner, now control 75 percent of all prime-time viewing.
* The Act gave broadcasters, for free, valuable digital TV licenses that could have brought in up to $70 billion to the federal treasury if they had been auctioned off. Broadcasters, who claimed they deserved these free licenses because they serve the public, have largely ignored their public interest obligations, failing to provide substantive local news and public affairs reporting and coverage of congressional, local and state elections.
* The Act reduced broadcasters’ accountability to the public by extending the term of a broadcast license from five to eight years, and made it more difficult for citizens to challenge those license renewals.
One Candidate has spoken out against this senseless consolidation of the Free Press — that Candidate is John Edwards
“It’s time for all Democrats, including those running for president, to stand up and speak out against this [News Corp.-Dow Jones] merger and other forms of media consolidation.”
So far, Edwards is the only candidate to address this issue, and he deserves enormous credit for exhibiting such courage. The media is a potentially devastating enemy – just ask Howard Dean. However, Hillary Clinton has the greatest moral obligation to take a stand given what her husband saddled us with.
What is Edwards saying that they find so disturbing?
Edwards Comes Out Strongly Against Media Consolidation
Aug 2, 2007
Challenges Democratic presidential candidates to cut off contributions from News Corp Executives
Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Today, Senator John Edwards spoke out strongly against media consolidation which threatens the health of our democracy, by calling on Democrats to openly oppose and take the necessary steps to stop the merger between News Corp and the Dow Jones Company/The Wall Street Journal. Edwards called on Democrats to oppose the merger in light of the biased and unfair manner Fox News, and other media arms of News Corp, cover Democrats and the Democratic Party.
“News Corp’s purchase of the Dow Jones Co. and The Wall Street Journal should be the last straw when it comes to media consolidation. The basis of a strong democracy begins and ends with a strong, unbiased and fair media – all qualities which are pretty hard to subscribe to Fox News and News Corp. The reality is that Americans deserve more news outlets – not fewer. It’s time for all Democrats, including those running for president, to stand up and speak out against this merger and other forms of media consolidation.
Al Gore, another Progressive Statesman, has also spoken out just as urgently against this “wild west” atmosphere for evermore Media Consolidation:
Gore Lashes Out at Media Consolidation
by Jill Lawless
August 28, 2006
“Democracy is under attack,” Gore told an audience at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. “Democracy as a system for self-governance is facing more serious challenges now than it has faced for a long time.
“Democracy is a conversation, and the most important role of the media is to facilitate that conversation of democracy. Now the conversation is more controlled, it is more centralized.”
In the United States “the only thing that matters in American politics now is having enough money to put 30-second commercials on the air often enough to convince the voters to elect you or re-elect you,” he said. “The person who has the most money to run the most ads usually wins.”