Kevin Martin, Unfunnyman

Sometimes politicians couch the truth in humor. This typically happens when they converge for one of their pat-on-the-back dinners, where they’re surrounded by like-minded friends. Events like the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner come to mind.
In the world of communications policymaking, the hubris-fest happens during the annual dinner of the Federal Communications Bar Association – the cadre of specialized lawyers who grease the Federal Communications Commission’s wheels to keep their clients happy. Headlining this year’s dinner was FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who, by all reports, was quite a crowd-pleaser.
Check some of his jokes, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable: Continue reading “Kevin Martin, Unfunnyman”

Public Interest Obligations for Digital Radio?

When TV broadcasters were given access to new spectrum in order to establish digital channels late in the last decade, the grants were contingent on broadcasters using the spectrum-windfall in ways that served the public interest. This might include things like opening up a slice of each DTV channel to public access, or obligating DTV stations to produce “public-interest” programming with news, educational, or other civic-minded value.
The problem is that while the FCC’s been talking about public-interest obligations for DTV broadcasters for 12 years now, it hasn’t adopted any explicit rule defining what those obligations are, and how stations must comply with them. Meanwhile, DTV stations are going on the air and the spectrum they use – touted as having the capacity to offer as many as six different channels – is being utilized however broadcasters see fit, and this often has nothing to do with providing more free over-the-air content. Continue reading “Public Interest Obligations for Digital Radio?”

Microradio, Today and Tomorrow

FCC Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps were in Seattle on November 30th to take more public testimony on the agency’s ongoing media ownership rules review. Reclaim the Media, packed the main auditorium of the Seattle Public Library and provided the Commissioners with four hours’ worth of testimony.
Just two weeks before the FCC’s visit, RtM also organized the Northwest Community Radio Summit, which featured three days of workshops on a wide range of issues. One of those was on The Case for Free Radio in the 21st Century” (1:00:34, 10.4 MB), hosted by members of the Free Radio Olympia collective. It provided a short overview of the history of unlicensed broadcasting and some of the more popular rationales for why it’s still advantageous to be a radio pirate in a post-LPFM world. Continue reading “Microradio, Today and Tomorrow”

Pervasive Fake News Documented, FCC Shrugs

Yesterday the Center for Media and Democracy released Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed. It tracks the use of some three dozen video news releases (VNRs) by television stations across America.
The use of VNRs is serious business. Companies and other special interests pay PR flacks (usually former journalists) to essentially produce generic television reports, which are then freely fed to TV stations nationwide.
Television reporters and news directors like VNRs because they’re easy fodder with which to fill a newscast, meaning fewer reporters to pay and less work needed from everyone involved. Companies like VNRs because they get free commercials masquerading as journalism. Continue reading “Pervasive Fake News Documented, FCC Shrugs”

Making Waves Update; FCC in MN

Michael Lahey’s been getting around: his killer microradio documentary will get more screenings around the country next year, one of which will be in April at the Anthology Film Archives in NYC. Also, a professor from the UK recently contacted Michael about using Making Waves as part of an exercise/discussion in a new textbook on alternative media.
Earlier this month Michael also was a special guest on The Power Hour, a talk show carried on the Genesis Communications Network. Not only did Michael get two hours to plug the film and talk about the issues behind it, but they also opened the phone lines. That’s where things got interesting: Continue reading “Making Waves Update; FCC in MN”

WNFC Meets FCC, Throws Gauntlet

The demonstration of low-power civil disobedience hasn’t even begun yet, but the FCC is now well-warned of WNFC’s existence and plans. Last night organizer Stacie Trescott served on a panel with Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps at a town hall meeting on the future of media in Dearborn, Michigan.
Trescott’s place on the panel gave her five minutes to talk about the need for the expansion of LPFM – and how the pending proposal to do so won’t help her community.
She pulled no punches: Continue reading “WNFC Meets FCC, Throws Gauntlet”

Conflicting Signals on LPFM

A week and a half ago FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein hinted that the agency was preparing to move quickly on a report to Congress recommending fast expansion of the LPFM service. However, at the staff level the outlook is apparently much different. Recent correspondence between at least two LPFM applicants and the staff working on the processing of their applications suggests that plans to open up windows for 10-watt station applications have been suspended, perhaps indefinitely.
Another wrinkle in the service’s rollout involves the certification – or lack thereof – of some of the transmitters in use by LPFM stations. It seems that the FCC “gave incorrect information” to transmitter manufacturers about the process they would need to go through to have their LPFM transmitters certified acceptable for use by licensed stations. Just what the FCC’s error(s) was/were isn’t clear, but what it means is that some LPFM transmitters sold as “FCC certified” may not be. Continue reading “Conflicting Signals on LPFM”

Adelstein on Microradio: "Go For It"

It was hectic and filled with pendulum swings of euphoria and panic; there is much to say about the National Conference on Media Reform/Be the Media shadow conference action that took place this past weekend. We’ll get to it all over the course of this week, cross-posting links as the posts flow on the Be the Media! blog.
First up is this one, my surreal encounter with FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

Adelstein on Microradio: "Go For It"

This was initially posted to the “Be the Media Blog” which provided a running commentary on the National Conference on Media Reform as written by participants.
Saturday night @ the Orpheum, after all of the speeches got done (C-SPAN was there), the Tell Us the Truth tour gang ran through an abbreviated reprise of their Friday headline performance.
This time around, however, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein joined the lineup. Adelstein’s quite dangerous with the harmonica, and performed several solos backed up by Boots Riley, Billy Bragg, Tom Morello, and Lester Chambers, to a repeatedly wowed crowd. Wonderfully surreal!
It looked like Adelstein got quite an adrenaline rush out of the (well-deserved) adulation, which perhaps explains the comments he made during a brief conversation with him after the show. Continue reading “Adelstein on Microradio: "Go For It"”

The Deed is Done: FCC Lifts Most Media Ownership Restrictions

It took only 90 minutes for the debate; calling the question took less than 15 seconds. And, as expected, the FCC voted along party lines (3-2) to significantly relax the rules restricting media ownership and consolidation, eliminating several of them completely. The agency’s news releases are full of sickening spin, but it does provide a decent overview of the new rules.
The biggest bonanzas appear to affect television ownership, where caps have been greatly relaxed, and cross-ownership of media outlets in all but a few large markets is now permitted. Mediageek’s Paul Riismandel has posted a more specific analysis of the changes to radio ownership rules.
Clear Channel might be stung by these changes but its freshly-endowed freedom to gobble up television stations and newspapers should more than compensate. The Big Ten must be having a collective orgasm over how much their empires will grow as a result of what happened today. Time to begin paying close attention to business news. Continue reading “The Deed is Done: FCC Lifts Most Media Ownership Restrictions”