Radio Preservation

From rhiann3n wyrcat <>
Date Sun, 19 Dec 1999 11:35:18 -0500

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I received this forwarded message -it's rather long & opinionated, but
well worth the read (exerpt):"Consider what is at stake: public access
to the public airwaves; the free flow of information, ideas, and
opinion. The very foundation of a democratic society." 
seems to speak for itself...

Since the article itself is so long, I'll save my
own opinions/suggestions for a second post once I
see this one posted.

Sounds like a sister free speech movement is also
under attack - solidarity, anyone?

before we begin, some background info links....

some info about Low Power FM Radio:

"Oxley Questions FCC Chairman Kennard on
Low Power "Micro Radio" Proposal":

what the Alliance for Community Media has to say:

Radio Free Nashvilles's Comments on the FCC's Low
Power FM Proposal:

An opinion/editorial from Pirate Radio:

(more to be found by searching

======= Forwarded Message Follows =======
Date sent:   Mon, 13 Dec 1999 19:40:31 EST
Subject:     "Radio Preservation"

The FCC's Low Power FM Proposal (Jan. '99) is an
important story that has been given surprisingly
little attention. Maybe this in itself has
emboldened Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) to
threaten to blow the whole thing with a
legislative curveball he calls the Broadcasting
Preservation Act of 1999.  Kind of a Fugitive
Slave Law for the new millenium.

A couple of weeks ago I didn't know this Oxley
fellow existed; now I thank him for exposing
himself as yet another anti-democratic dog in the
Congress.  This bill is a blatantly fascist piece
of legislation, and he is counting on the
public's ignorance of the matter. He and this
bill need to be fought tooth and nail.

Consider what is at stake: public access to the
public airwaves; the free flow of information,
ideas, and opinion. The very foundation of a
democratic society. To the NAB's ridiculous
technical objections, I can say only this:  even
if these objections were true, technology must
accomodate access, not the other way around.

There is hardly a more democratic medium than
radio.  Even the poorest people might have three
or four radios. We listen in our cars and at
work; students can listen while doing their
homework.  Compare radio's omnipresence to that
of, say, the NY Times, The Nation, cable TV, or
the Internet. If we are to have a democratic
media, radio must be the foundation for it.

In doing a lot of street interviews I find hardly
anyone knows about the Proposal at all. When people do know about it,
there is virtually
unanimous support for it. Public access to the
public airwaves - what could be simpler or more
basic? Liberals, conservatives, Communists,
Klansmen - everybody and their cousin feels they
have an inherent right to free speech - which of
necessity is public speech.

LPFM is inherently a very broad-based issue, 
deeply rooted in the 1st Amendment. (Come to
think of it, you'd think that given the
supposedly overwhelming "liberal bias" of the
mainstream media, the conservatives would be
leading the charge...)

I think there are obvious parallels to be made
with the historic events in Seattle. In both the
WTO and the media, an economic elite is
apparently seeking absolute and unquestioned
power, and in both the same people are being left
out: environmentalists, labor, women,
consumers, minorities, the poor, the young.

The message of Seattle was plain. Democracy is a
global idea, and it's on the move. The world
knows that ordinary people have stood up to the
WTO - and begun to win. These people WILL be
included in the equation. 

Mr. Oxley and his fascist colleagues need to be
taught the same lesson. (Considering his bill is
dated 11-17, I'll just bet you he was as
surprised and put on guard by the Seattle events
as anyone.)

To look at the matter further, consider the
numerous criticisms of the media in recent years,
but most especially the coverage of the WTO
itself. The media plainly wanted Americans to
look at the first day's events and wring their
hands over "violent protesters" - instead,
virtually all Americans were asking, "What the
hell is the WTO?"

Seattle above all has shown that the media's
relentless, single-minded pursuit of profit has
left them journalistically bankrupt. They have no
credibility left at all.

People have had enough of the endless commercial
(Buy this soap! Buy this car! Buy this President!
Buy this war!). We have had enough of being lied
to and lied about. We have had enough of being
left out.

Perhaps we are finally ready to go on the
offensive against the corporate media and their
Congressional stooges. Perhaps Oxley's outrageous
arrogance can serve as the same sort of lightning
rod as the WTO.

Consider: the corporate media have without
question sold America a defective and harmful
product. They have promoted passive consumerism
and discouraged active citizenship by willfully
enforcing ignorance on fundamental democratic
issues. They have cynically attempted to kidnap
the minds of our children. 

Companies like GE have a long, consistent history
of criminal behavior that would bar a mere
individual from obtaining a broadcast license -
why doesn't it bar GE?  In short, the corporate
media have absolutely, profoundly betrayed the
public trust. (With a little help from the FCC.)
So why aren't they being sued?

I'm at least half serious. Why shouldn't some of the corporate media's
billions be diverted back
into the public trust through active support of 
community media and arts? Why should public-spirited media starve while
these few
corporations gorge themselves? They owe community
media big-time.

I think maybe the movement for LPFM as been too
"practical" and too polite by half. To a certain
extent our bargaining position has been that the
corporate media have essentially a 100% monopoly,
and we're begging them to give up 1 or 2%. And
look at their response even to this humility.
You'd think we had asked for the moon.

Well - why not DEMAND the moon? Oxley wants to outlaw LPFM forever,
maybe we should propose an
eternal ban on the use of the public airwaves for
private profit.

OK, maybe a little idealistic, a little impractical - but at least it
puts Oxley's
absurdity in some sort of perspective. At least
it's a different stance than this begging for
crumbs they obviously find so appalling and
obnoxious anyway.

This issue needs to be publicized on the broadest
basis possible. This punk Oxley needs to be blown
out of the water - and this can be done. Imagine
a sizable contingent of the Seattle demonstrators
showing up in his office...

At the very least, people need to write or call
their Reps and Senators and let them know in no
uncertain terms: we absolutely oppose this
attempt to silence the voice of the people, and
further, we demand low power FM NOW.  Enough
delays, enough excuses. And threaten to make them
pay for it!

I'm thinking too of some other tactics. Oxley has
5 or 6 co-sponsors, and it might be a good idea
if the hometown newspapers of these folks were
deluged with, say, 5000 letters from all over the
country protesting this anti-democratic back-room
deal. The newspapers could easily ignore one or
two letters but ignoring 5000 would be a story in

I think we should also challenge these reps to
debate this issue in their districts. Make them
face their voters and proclaim their passionate
hostility to free speech and democracy.

After Seattle it makes sense to focus on the
media. If the public cannot immediately gain
control of the media, we absolutely must gain
ACCESS.  Labor and other constituencies must be
able to speak in their own terms, and on their
own turf.

The media is everybody's issue. It is now time to
draw a line for human rights over corporate rights here as well.

OK, that's it for now. Please let me know your
thoughts on "The Diatribe." 

I'm thinking we need to send something like this
all over the place.  Nader, columnists like Molly
Ivins as well as conservatives, media and
political organizations. In a way, Oxley has
handed us an opportunity to finally make this
issue NEWS. 

Let me hear from you soon.
Beau Hunter
Radio Free Nashville

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