Archive | February, 2005

The Sinclair Angle — If It Bleeds (Our Pocketbooks) It Leads

Alternet is running a story that further documents the crookedness of Sinclair Broadcast Group, charging that the company doesn’t merely slant hard-right, but that management is mostly only interested in covering “news” that directly affects the top dogs’ pocketbooks:

One such staffer says that Sinclair Vice President J. Duncan Smith asked Craig Demchak to take on the story. “Duncan comes in and says: ‘Craig, we need this story, it’s affecting my property. We’ve got to slam these people,’” recalls that person. “He was told ‘This is destroying my property, we’ve got to stop it.’ If it had been anybody else’s property, would they be sending the helicopter there to see it? No way in hell.”

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Something Fishy in Right-Wing-Christian-Translator-land, Grabbing Spectrum away from LPFM, Maybe Profiting from the Venture?

John at DIYmedia cites some research from REC networks that points to some nefarious hi-jinks going on with non-commercial FM translator licenses.

Looks like some of our old pals at Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, Idaho–the Clear Channel of FM translators–are buying up recently acquired translator construction permits to add to their 358+ station empire of low-power satellite-driven Christian-clone stations.

Doing business as Reach Communications, they’re buying the permits from Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio Assist Ministries, which both made out like bandits in the most recent translator spectrum allocation proceding. Edgewater/RAM stand to make up to $800k in these sorts of deals.

Interestingly, Calvary Chapel seems to be awfully cozy with Edgewater, considering that a year ago the program director for CC’s radio network e-mailed me to forcefully assert that Calvary Chapel and it’s CSN radio network have absolutely nothing to do with Edgewater:

WE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM. We did not file for them and we are not in contact with any of them. … One reason I think we have been lumped together is because we did have an employee who worked for us 3 years ago and he has started his own business. He has started Radio Assist Ministries, Edgewater Ministries and World Radio link.

Any why is this important?

Because translator stations use up precious frequencies that could go for low-power FM community stations that would broadcast programs directly by and for their local communities. Whereas translators, by design and FCC edict, may only broadcast programming from another station.

Thus, the likes of Calvary Chapel/CSN are abusing translators to build huge networks of low-power FM stations broadcasting the same right-wing Christian programming out of Twin Falls, ID.

In addition, it looks like Edgewater and perhaps other players in the non-commercial translator game might be profiting by hording licenses and reselling them to other outfits.

There’s still a lot of investigating to be done on this. John and I will both be posting more, and I hope to interview someone from REC Networks, which has been doing great research on the topic, on next radioshow, Friday, March 4.

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Champaign-Urbana Community Radio on Media Matters this Sunday

Media Matters is Prof. Robert McChesney‘s weekly call-in talk show on our local NPR affiliate, WILL-AM 580. On this Sunday’s show at 1 PM I am one of the guests along with Mike Lehman, the founding force behind our new LPFM station taking to the air in June and a founding member of our local IMC, and Sandra Ahten, who currently works to produce the IMC’s weekly radio news program.

We pretaped this program last week, so you can’t call in. But you can listen on the radio if you’re in the northern half of Illinois. The station has a booming AM signal during the day that reaches nearly to Wisconsin on the North and almost to Indianapolis on the East.

You an also listen on-line when it airs or catch it in the archives afterwards.

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Conflict, Abuse and Privilege

Links to an article entitled “Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men,” have been passed around various progressive and activist email lists in the last few weeks. I finally had a chance to read it today, and I was very affected, impressed and disturbed.

I was disturbed because I’ve seen or heard many of the behaviors and rationalizations that the author, Tamara K. Nopper, details.

Tamara Knopper very accurately points out ways that people who experience the abuse are minimized and their abusers escape responsibility. Here’s just a few passages that resonated as too familiar:

What’s scary is that I know activist men who were abusing and manipulating female activist and at the same time, writing position papers on sexism and competition between women. …

Not only do activist women have to confront and negotiate their abuser in activist circles, they must usually do so in a political community that talks a good game but in the end could give a shit about the victims’ emotional and physical safety. …

For example, when I was sharing with an activist male my concerns about how an activist female was being treated by an activist male who held a prominent position in a political group, the man “listening” to my story said in that voice, “Oh, she’s probably just mad ‘cause he started dating someone else” and went on to make fun of her. … More, his comments revealed an attitude that assumes that if activist women take issue with activist men, they are “crying abuse” to cover up hidden sexual desires and anger over being rejected by men who “won’t fuck them.” …

I have even seen some situations where abusive men become adopted, so to speak, by other activists, who see rehabilitating the man as part of their project and think little about what this means for the women who are trying to recover. In some cases, the male activist abuser was adopted while the woman was shunned as “unstable,” “crazy” or “too emotional.” …

More, many of these abusers use the language, tools of activism and support by other activists as means to abuse women and conceal their behavior. And unfortunately, in a lot of political circles, regardless of how much we talk about patriarchy or misogyny, women are sacrificed in order to keep up “the work” or save the organization.

The positive thing I can say is that our IMC is actively working on our mediation and conflict resolution procedures, learning from our experiences and trying to improve them in general. We are trying to address the fact that there are issues and instances of immediate safety and welfare that need to be dealt with quickly and with sensitivity to people who are threatened or in danger.

Our IMC also has a group working on climate issues — recognizing that policies and procedures alone will not solve problems that stem from sexism, misogyny and racism. That group is trying to address the fact that attitudes, behaviors and conduct have to reflect the principles of equality, anti-racism and anti-patriarchy. They’re working to explore how good attitudes, behciors and actions can be fostered and encouraged.

Those things are good, but they alone can’t be enough.

That’s the reason for my final point: Privilege.

Most of us in activist and independent media circles are pretty privleged people, especially white, middle-class American men like myself. It’s incumbent upon all people of privilege to examine it and recognize our responsibility for the harm it causes for those with less privilege, whether we want, endorse or personally create that harm.

Unforunately, all my talk here is kind of abstract. However, I just read a zine that I think really does a good job of putting some of these ideas into words. That zine is titled “Excuse Me, Can You Please Pass teh Privilege,” by Josh Russell. My partner ordered us a copy from Microcosm Distro, and I’m glad she did. I can’t recommend it enough.

Confronting your own privilege and attempting to deal with it is a personal struggle, but it is also a public and political one.

The reason I’ve combined these topics–conflict, abuse and privilege–is that I’m seeing more every day how privilege, especially the exploitation of privilege, is a base element in so many situations of abuse and conflict.

I think many activists see this dynamic as it plays out in politics, but do not take a hard enough look at how it plays out in their own lives and communities. Or how much they take advantage of privilege’s power themselves in ways that are exploitive and harmful to the people around them.

Abusers have privilege, which gives them power, which they exploit and use to manipulate and control. If we question privilege itself, I think it’s one notch we can take out of this toxic formula.

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Knee Deep in Sinclair Dirt

Rolling Stone has an excellently comprehensive article on everyone’s favorite TV station owner, Sinclair. There are so many choice quotes and tidbits in here that I can’t quote them all, but here’s one revealing bite that shows Sinclair’s utter disdain for the rules:

[Sinclair CEO] Smith was equally creative when it came to skirting federal rules that forbid broadcasters from controlling two television stations in the same market. The scheme was simple: Smith’s mother, Carolyn, and Sinclair employee Edwin Edwards would buy a station in a market where the company already owned an outlet, and then promptly turn control of the new operation over to Sinclair. In 2001, the FCC ruled that the broadcaster had violated federal ownership laws and slapped it with a $40,000 fine — but allowed Sinclair to keep the stations.

Now go read the article.

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