The E-mail Commentary from Eco-Justice Ministries
Remember the controversy about the Dixie Chicks two months ago?
As the US went to war with Iraq, one of the singers in that country-rock trio made a comment about being embarrassed that President Bush comes from her home state of Texas. That sort of criticism did not sit well with many country music listeners.
The controversy stayed in the headlines when radio stations pulled Dixie Chicks songs from their playlists. That use of media power to stifle political dissent created an uproar.
According to the New York Times, the blocking of the Dixie Chicks was orchestrated by radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications -- a Texas-based corporation that controls more than 1,200 radio stations nationwide.
In January -- 2 months before the Dixie Chicks controversy erupted -- the Wall Street Journal said that Clear Channel "is rapidly becoming the lightning rod for concerns about media consolidation as the FCC moves forward with a sweeping revamp of its media-ownership rules."
The Dixie Chicks are back on the air, and their concerts are selling out, so maybe no long-term harm was done -- this time. But the power of a huge broadcasting corporation to bring political perspectives into their programming, and to make or break artists, was made very clear.
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Rumor has it that next Monday, June 2, the US's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on new rules about TV media ownership. We have to go on rumor, because the FCC has not publicly announced any details about the agenda for their next meeting, or about the rules that they will be voting on.
If the scuttlebutt is on target, a majority of the commissioners will vote in favor of provisions that will:
If the FCC implements these changes, it is very likely that many communities will see less competition in local TV news programming. (And, as any good capitalist will tell you, competition makes for better products.) That lack of competition probably will mean less local news, and less diversity in the content and editorial perspective in the news.
The US Congress might override new rules from the FCC, but the best place to stop bad rules is before they are made. Many community and political action groups -- from all across the political spectrum -- are trying to block the FCC's June 2 vote. Among them, the US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) has an on-line system where you can send personalized comments to the FCC commissioners, with copies sent to your members of Congress.
I urge you to access the USPIRG site and compose your own message to the FCC.
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Next week's FCC vote on media ownership is just one instance of a far broader question with profound eco-justice implications. The concentration of power into limited hands almost always diminishes democracy and hurts those who are out of power.
Next week's FCC vote is only one case where the concentration of power is evident. It is an important case that deserves our clear and immediate action.
Whenever we see power becoming concentrated, let us work to balance, or regulate, or otherwise limit that power. Let us act for the sake of all people -- for the sake of all of God's creation.
Eco-Justice Ministries * 400 S Williams St, Denver, CO 80209 * 303.715.3873
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org * E-mail: email@example.com