News Headlines from 5-27-05 mediageek radio show

These are the news headlines as read on the 5-27-05 edition of the radioshow: DTV Deadline to Fund Deficit; DO IT Act to Fund Education and Public TV; Clear Channel Co-Opts Pirate Rhetoric

DTV Deadline to Fund Deficit
According to the chair of the House Commerce Committee, Dec. 31, 2008 should be the firm date when your analog TV becomes legally obsolete because all television broadcasts must be digital by then. Representative, Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, said that the Dec. 31, 2008 date is “pretty much frozen” into a draft bill being worked on in his committee.

Barton also said that he would support some kind of subsidy for digital converter boxes for low income households that can’t afford new digital televisions, although no such provision is yet in the draft legislation.

Committee members have not been able to agree on digital broadcasters’ public interest obligations, multicast must-carry , how cable companies will provide digital TV to analog subscribers, and how to treat consumers fairly when the government renders their analog TV’s inoperable.

Chairman Barton has been charged by the House Budget Committee to find $4.7 billion and it looks like he sees dollar signs in the analog broadcast spectrum which TV broadcasters are supposed to abandon. As a result, he plans to attach the digital TV legislation to a budget reconciliation bill.

Ranking committee Democrat John Dingell of Michigan said the bill must address two questions: “Why should ordinary citizens pay more because of a governmental decision that makes their television sets obsolete?” and “Why can’t the proceeds from the sale of spectrum, which is a public good, be used to reimburse citizens for their transition costs and for other important telecommunications and public safety needs?”

DO IT Act to Fund Education and Public TV
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has joined a bipartisan group of legislators in introducing a bill to create a trust fund that will benefit public television and education. The bill is called the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust Act and would provide funding to support the digitization of collections and other significant holdings of the nation’s universities, museums, libraries, public television stations, and other cultural institutions. According to the bill’s language, the fund would also support “basic and applied research, including demonstrations of innovative learning and assessment systems as well as the components and tools needed to create them.”

Twenty-one percent of the trust fund’s investment revenues would be reserved for public television stations that are qualified to receive funding from the corporation for public broadcasting.

The trust would be operated as an independent non-profit corporation, without direct control from the federal government. However, the board of directors will be appointed by the president, with confirmation from the Senate.

Clear Channel Co-Opts Pirate Rhetoric
Demonstrating that nothing is safe from crass corporate media co-opting, this week Clear Channel got outted as the force behind a supposed new pirate station in Northeast Ohio it calls “Free Radio Ohio.” Other Clear Channel stations in the area were allegedly being interfered with by the new pirate, with promos for it showing up on these stations sounding as if they had been inserted surreptitiously.

According to Crain’s Business Cleveland, the buzz started on the Cleveland message boards at radio-info.com, where the first post about a web site called RadioFreeOhio.org showed up May 19. The message mentioned that Clear Channel-owned WTOU-AM 1350 was “interrupted” by a purported pirate radio broadcast touting the Radio Free Ohio site.

Within a day, another post claimed the site’s Internet protocol address was registered to none other than Clear Channel Communications, but offered no supporting facts. Since then Clear Channel’s registration has been confirmed by the weblog for the independent media magazine, Stay Free.

The Free Radio Ohio website attempted to poorly assimilate the rhetoric of media reform critics and free radio activists. Scathing reviews of other Cleveland-area stations, including ones owned by Clear Channel, were posted. The list of reviews was headed by the statement: “The following is a list of radio stations in Northeast Ohio that should be forced to turn off their transmitters and turn their licenses over to the Federal Communications Commission.”

For example, the site said that talk station WHLO is, “obviously operated by communist.” But paradoxically goes on to say that WHLO, “consists of nothing more than right wing rhetoric dispensed at toxic levels. WHLO features overbearing personalities that have little or no knowledge of actual facts.”

Now that Free Radio Ohio has been outted as a tool of Clear Channel most of the site’s content has been taken down, including message boards where listeners were encouraged to complain about Cleveland-area radio. However discussion quickly turned to criticism of Clear Channel itself, especially deriding its guerilla marketing scheme and homogenizing domination of Cleveland’s airwaves.

There is no evidence of an actual pirate station called Radio Free Ohio operating on the Cleveland airwaves, nor is there any evidence that the supposed interruptions appeared on any stations not owned by Clear Channel.

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