It’s Time to Reclaim the Media

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about the current state of our local and national broadcast media as I
am? I hope so, because our democracy is facing a media crisis of untold proportions that is
threatening its very vibrancy and vitality.
On May 13-15, I, along with 2500 concerned citizens from all fifty states and ten countries,
converged on the city of St. Louis for the second National Conference on Media Reform to
work together to reclaim an important and endangered national resource, our public airwaves.
The media is our window to the world. It provides the information we use to form opinions
and make crucial decisions about the issues we care about most – issues like health care, education,
the economy, and going to war.
But today’s media is dominated by a small number of powerful companies whose sole
objective is making money, not serving the needs of our local community or our democratic
society. For example, Channel 3 is owned by Nextar Broadcasting Group located in Irving,
Texas, and Channel 15 by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group located in Baltimore, Maryland.
The media system in our country is broken. Investigative journalism is declining. Commercialization
is out of control,with over 30,000 advertisements bombarding the average child
each year.
Did you know our government subsidizes the media in the form of giveaways to huge
media conglomerates like Disney and General Electric? For example, TV and radio stations
are allowed to broadcast on the airwaves that legally belong to the public – free of charge! Yes,
the airwaves belong to us – just like a national park – yet media moguls are making billions of
dollars off of them.
Unless we create a more diverse, independent, skeptical and competitive media system, all
of the issues we care about will be left unheard and unaddressed.
Yet individuals like you and me can make a difference. In 2003, the FCC tried to quietly
change the regulations to make it possible for one company to own virtually all the media outlets
in one town – the cable system, the newspapers, TV and radio stations. [In the process],
they inadvertently started a revolution. Over two million Americans from across the political
spectrum spoke up to say that they didn’t want to let giant media conglomerates to get even
bigger. The people won, and these rule changes were stopped in the courts.
The battle is not over. Congress will soon begin debating changes to the 1996 Telecommunications
Act that will define the role and state of media in our country for years to come. Will
Big Media with its enormous sums of money and highly paid lobbyists control the debate? Or
will the people of this country speak out loud and clear to our elected officials to protect our
airwaves and our access to them?
To save our media, join in by contacting your representatives in Congress, writing the FCC,
and supporting local independent media movements. To learn more visit
The preceding commentary was heard on public broadcasting station WILL-AM 580 dur –
ing “The Public Square,” a weekly 3-minute opinion piece from any member of the communi –
ty on any subject of interest to him/her. “The Public Square” airs at 4:45 pm on Fridays with
repeats at 6:45 pm on Fridays and 10:59 am on Saturdays. Commentaries are archived on
W I L L’s website. To submit a commentary of

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