Are the airwaves for Clear Channel or the people?

by Jason Gross

4 October 2005


Figuring that their Republican buddies still owe them something for all of their support, radio monopoly Clear Channel is making another push to get even bigger: Clear Channel renews bid to ease ownership limits.
Using their old argument about competition from satellite radio, the Internet and other boogie-men threatening their stranglehold on the medium, CC head Mark Mays argues that his company should be allowed to get bigger and more powerful.  Forgetting laws that are already in place that frown upon monopolies, one salient argument they keep leaving out is about who owns the airwaves really belong to.  The American public do not not owe Clear Channel nor does CC have the right to as much of the airwaves as they want.  They’re regulated by the government and the radio dial is supposed to belong to the people.

Right, that sounds laughable but it’s true.  Radio stations get their licenses partially by proving that they’re providing some public service.  They get around this as easily as payola laws but the fact remains that despite all of their pay-off’s, there’s no practical reason to let CC (or any other radio company) grow even more.  Because they have the leverage of political donations, CC’s complaints and demands are taken more seriously on Capitol Hill than they should be.  It shouldn’t though. 

If you want to lose any kind of local radio and have every station in your area became another JACK outlet, then you shouldn’t be concerned.  If you want to have listenable radio stations in your area that actually reflect what’s going on in your area, you should let your member of Congress know that CC has no right to expand.  It’s easy to find your member of Congress to let them know what you think- see EFF’s Congress site.

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