Archive | June, 2003

Assessing Media Ownership Rules

I just posted to the Urbana-Champaign IMC my analysis of the FCC’s media ownership rules changes and the bill that exited the Senate Commerce Committee’s today that would rollback some of the FCC’s changes.

In order to make this all more concrete, I try to figure out how these rules and this bill would affect my local media market in Champaign-Urbana, IL. It’s pretty easy to understand in the abstract how the FCC’s loosening of ownership rules is a bad thing, but I think it’s even more helpful to understand how much more concentrated our local media would become. Or, even see how the Senate bill will not stop all aspects of impending consolidation.

Even if you don’t live in Champaign-Urbana and don’t care much about this media market, I hope maybe my analysis can provide some basis to help you assess the situation for your own local media, especially if your local news outfits haven’t seen fit to do it yet.

Which brings me to a brief tangent/rant — the day after the FCC made its rule changes (June 3) our local public radio station (the typically good WILL-AM) ran a short news item on the decision during it’s 5 minutes of local news inserted in Morning Edition.

But did they talk to anyone about the local media market in Champaign-Urbana? Noooo! Did they talk about even the regional Central Illionis media? Noooo!

No, they talk to some prof up in Chicago about the effect on the Chicago media. Which is all fine and good, except that you could read that in the Chicago Tribune or some other Chicago media.

Of course, I’m sure the reason they focused it on the Chicago media is because we don’t have any decent coverage of local media in Champaign-Urbana, and it doesn’t look like any of the Communciations or Journalism profs at the hometown University of Illinois actually pay much attention to our local media. No, that would require both giving a shit about your local media environment, and having to do a little harder research, since there’s no reportage in our local paper and the data simply isn’t handed to you on a platter like in big markets.

Now, I will note that at least two papers in Central Illinois actually have media columns and reporters — the Springfield State Journal-Register and the Peoria Journal-Star. Hell, I’ve even talked to the media reporter at the Journal-Star about the very topic of media ownership in Central Illinois. So, I know that there are at least some other people besides me paying some attention to local media ownership issues.

Anyway, that’s my rant. And my advice is that if you don’t know who owns your local media, try and find out. If it turns out that’s hard to do, then make sure you share that info with as many people as possible. I think we’re most likely to derail the media monoliths only when most average people understand that it is happening right in their own backyards.

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Senate Commerce Committee OKs Media Rules Roll-back

I received the following (mass-mailed) missive from Bob McChesney and the Free Press Media Reform Network:

There was a significant victory in the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday,
June 19, as it voted to overturn key elements of the corrupt FCC decision
to loosen media ownership rules on June 2
. It is due almost entirely to the
massive outpouring of public comments — hundreds of thousand in just the
past week — opposing the idea of letting fewer media companies own more
and more media.

We still have a difficult road ahead. Now the action goes to the entire
Senate and the House of Representatives in the coming weeks where we will
have to redouble our efforts to finish the job.

Go to for:

1. clear and comprehensive background information on the issues involved
2. a comprehensive collection of all news articles every day on the media
ownership fight (and other media policy issues)
3. updated reports (at least daily) from Capitol Hill insiders on exactly
where matters stand with regard to the media ownership fight
4. links to all the organized campaigns to tell members of Congress to
represent the public interest, not the interests of massive corporate
lobbies, when in come to media ownership rules.

Again, thanks for your help. This victory shows that if we organize, we can

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Checking the Nation’s Pulse on Media Regulation

As we would hope, the Onion has its thermometer thrust deep into the American psyche and has accurately measured the populace’s temperature on the issue of media regulation. In their regular feature, “What Do You Think?” the perceptive Onion staff interview people in the street to gauge their thoughts on the important topics of the day.

To whit, upon hearing that the FCC loosened ownerhip restrictions on newspapers and TV stations, one Kris Eccle, Cashier, exclaims, “Oh, crap. Now, both my local papers will carry Hagar The Horrible.”

Horrible, indeed.

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From the Mediageek Zine: A Radical Media Call To Arms

As I mentioned earlier, I have completed the first issue of the mediageek zine, my new print project which made its debut at the Allied Media Conference. It’s 38 pages full of rants, how-tos and reviews, with a neat-o mediageek sticker affixed to the front of every copy.

The contents are:

  • mediageekery – welcome from the editor
  • a radical media call to arms
  • d.i.: do it!
  • a guide to zine making tools
  • so you wanna shoot some video? no-nonsense tips for getting yourself a camcorder
  • chicago rocks, st. louis rolls
  • shoot some video for a change; a review of the guerrilla video primer
  • end-zine: the sense of place

  • The mediageek zine is available for $2 post-paid (in the US) from: P.O. Box 2102, Champaign, IL 61825-2102

    As I explain in the introductory welcome piece,

    At this point I also feel like I should explain why, with a website and radio show, and at the ripe age of 31, I decided to make a ‘zine. My first reason is that I’ve wanted to make a zine for more than ten years, and I finally got an excuse to get off my ass and do it.

    More seriously, the bigger reason is that I think communication does and should happen in many forms and many forums. I know I’m not the first person to recognize this, but it’s hard to drag a computer with you on the bus, or into the bathroom to do some reading. Sure, I guess with a new ultra-light, super-Palm-handheld-pocket-cellphone-laptop-PDA it might be a little easier to read the mediageek website in those places. Yet, how many people actually can, and want to?

    I hope the mediageek ‘zine might reach people who don’t or can’t read the website or hear the radio show.

    As a teaser I’m going to post here in its entirety a “manifesto of sorts” that I promised more than a month ago that appears in the mediageek zine:

    A Radical Media Call To Arms
    a manifesto, of sorts
    by Paul Riismandel

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    Sen. Orrin Hatch Wants to Destroy Your Computer in the Name of the RIAA

    This is so obviously screwed up, that I can’t even muster a comment:

    “The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.

    The surprise remarks by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during a hearing on copyright abuses represent a dramatic escalation in the frustrating battle by industry executives and lawmakers in Washington against illegal music downloads.”

    Though, I appreciate Larry Lessig’s off-hand response:

    “Can we bomb the offices of stock brokers thought to be violating SEC regulations? Or bulldoze houses of citizens with unregistered guns? Or — yes, this is good — short the telephones of people who use indecent language?”

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