Posted by: Katie Hamachek | November 14, 2011

Backlash Against Consolidation

Deregulation = Mergers

McChesney compellingly argues that deregulation is in effect nothing more than government pandering to private corporate greed.  He further argues that the proof of this capitalist greed is seen in the actualization of deregulation in any industry in the form of mergers.  His main example is the deregulation of the radio industry and the subsequent radio monopolies that rapidly emerged. Following deregulation in 1996, “well over half of U.S. stations have been sold… Every market is dominated by two or three firms that won nearly all the stations..The firms have stripped radio of local content…” (419).

Re-Localizing Radio

I have to admit, in general, it appears McChesney is correct.  But maybe local radio is making a comeback, at least in Portland.  Portland is arguably one of the epicenters of the “buy local” movements.  From our salad greens to bird covered accessories, Portlanders want to buy local.  Does this extend to radio?  In the past year, Alpha Broadcasting’s campaign, especially with Kink, has focused largely on local radio.  Bob Proffitt, Alpha Broadcasting President, mentioned that a central mission of Alpha’s is to be tied into the local community and to provide unique local material to listeners.  Proffitt did note that local content is most heavily distributed through Kink, but that all the stations strive to be present in the community. Is Alpha Broadcasting (and Portland in general) pushing back against the generic content resulting from mergers and deregulation?  It seems there might be hope after all.

(Statements from Bob Proffitt taken from a personal conversation from October 2011)

Discussion Questions:

1. What would publicly run media look like?  One of the benefits of having gatekeepers is having most of the terrible content edited out. Is the web essentially a manifestation of publicly run media?

2. If given more choice in media content, what would the public choose to view?  Would they want to see education programing, or do we truly want the junk?

3. The fact that we don’t know what is going on with regulations and control is fairly frightening.  How do we ensure more transparency, or even get people to care about it?

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