Despite rising opposition, the FCC’s 3-member Republican majority is still moving relentlessly toward removing some, or all, of the few remaining restrictions on how much of the media a single company can own. The vote is set for Monday, June 2.
In a May 15 letter to the FCC, filed in FCC Docket 02-277 and 3 related Dockets, THE AMHERST ALLIANCE -- a Net-based, nationwide citizens’ advocacy group, which I serve as its attorney -- brought The Dixie Chicks into evidence: “After Natalie Maines declared in London that The Dixie Chicks opposed war against Iraq, and were ‘embarrassed the President of the United States is from Texas,’ airplay of the group’s songs was ended swiftly on many of the stations owned by Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel is the nation’s largest chain of radio stations, reaching almost one third of the nation ’s radio listeners.
"Clear Channel senior executives claim that they did not order the ban on Dixie Chicks music. Instead, Clear Channel’s leaders claim hundreds of individual station managers ‘spontaneously,’ and simultaneously, pulled all Dixie Chicks music off the air (and were not ordered to put it back). In our eyes, this account strains credulity, particularly since Clear Channel has been caught lying to the public before. In any case, the ‘bottom line’ result -- censorship of 3 famous, and wildly popular, artists -- is the same, whether Clear Channel’s leaders ordered the ban or gave their station managers a License To Kill.
"This was a brutal application of concentrated market power for purely political reasons. There was no profit-based motivation for the ban: retail sales of The Dixie Chicks’ music had tumbled only a little, and sales have since rebounded. Further, there was no claim that the content of all of the Dixie Chicks’ songs had suddenly become indecent or offensive. This was punishment of The Dixie Chicks for their personal political views.
"What if Clear Channel Communications had owned all of the radio stations in America?
"It could happen -- if the few remaining media ownership limits are loosened enough.”
"And what,” THE AMHERST ALLIANCE goes on to ask, “if the same company also owns the TV stations, the cable stations and The Internet?”
If you want to join the fight, you can file electronic comments in FCC Docket 02-277 through Friday, May 30. At this point, however, the best bet may be generating enough Congressional pressure on the FCC. So write to your Representatives and Senators!! Or use the automated E-Mail system at www.freepress.net.