Who Owns ‘Local' Media? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Who Owns ‘Local' Media?

"Did you know this was happening? Have you heard about it in the local or national news?" wrote Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 24. He was talking about the June 2 vote that FCC Chairman Michael Powell—son of Colin—has scheduled to lift restrictions on media ownership in the U.S. It's very likely that you haven't heard about this vote, although it will affect all of us, and is virtually guaranteed to happen based on a party-line 3-2 vote if a grass-roots miracle doesn't happen quickly. The vote, if passed, will do away with the cap on ownership of radio stations, newspapers and television channels, and make it possible for one company to own all media outlets. That means: One company could then own every media outlet in Jackson.

Why hasn't there been more hoopla concerning this? Why, according to a survey conducted by The Project for Excellence in Journalism, have 72 percent of Americans heard "nothing at all" about it? The possible reason that Jacksonians have heard or read little about it is that so few of our local media outlets are locally owned. Channel 16 WAPT is owned by Hearst-Argyle, one of the country's largest communications companies (also owns Vogue magazine, for one). Media General, a communications company located in Florida, owns Channel 12 WJTV. Liberty Corp., a major group television broadcaster in Greenville, S.C., owns Channel 3 WLBT. Outside owners own and operate 15 non-public radio stations in Jackson.

Our only daily newspaper, The Clarion-Ledger, is owned by Gannett, the largest newspaper company in regard to circulation. Its Web site (gannett.com) explains: "The company's 100 daily newspapers in the USA have a combined daily paid circulation of 7.7 million. They include USA TODAY, the nation's largest-selling daily newspaper, with a circulation of approximately 2.3 million. USA TODAY is available in 60 countries worldwide." Headquartered in McLean, Va., Gannett has "operations in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong."

The five-member FCC has garnered much flack among those in the know concerning the rapidity of allowing this vote, seemingly under cover of international crises. Some of the criticism comes from its own inner ranks. Adelstein said in a recent hearing, "We need more voices in our nation's media, but not from the same ventriloquist." And 15 U.S. senators, including Trent Lott, wrote Chairman Powell saying that it was "virtually impossible to serve the public interest in this extremely important and highly complex proceeding without letting the public know about and comment on the changes you intend to make."

There is still time to support Sen. Lott and tell him we don't want our news funneled through a handful of companies with little vested interest in our community.

Who Owns Local Radio?

Clear Channel (Texas):
WMSI
WQJQ
WDBT
WSTZ
WZRX

Inner City Broadcasting (New York):
WJMI
WKXI
WYJS
WOAD

Backyard Broadcasting (Maryland):
WRXW
WTYX

New South Broadcasting (Meridian):
WUSJ
WJKK
WYOY

On Top Broadcasting (Virginia):
WRJH

TeleSouth Communications
(South Carolina):
WFMN

Buchanan Communications (Jackson):
WJNT

Mississippi College:
WHJT

Corrections appended to above story.

Previous Comments

ID
63952
Comment

Here is more info on the impending FCC media decision, including links for what you can if you want to ensure that the media represent a variety of views. (Remember: This can work against you, no matter what ideology; once one company owns it all, they can do as they wish): How to respond: http://www.mediareform.net Background: http://www.moveon.org/moveonbulletin/bulletin12.html William Safire's column: http://www.nytimes.com/auth/login?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/22/opinion/22SAFI.html Salon: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2003/05/23/powells_fight/index_np.html

Author
ladd
Date
2003-05-29T15:38:18-06:00
ID
63953
Comment

This article (link) discusses hip hop's movement to shut down or overthrow organizations like Viacom and Clear Channel that control what we listen to... It explains that most of the music selected does not fairly represent hip hop music and/or culture. I fully agree and am surprised this movement was not inspired by "Rock 'n' Rollers" the known "rebels" of the music industry. Nonetheless, I think it's great that responsible rappers want more music exposed "to open their airwaves to a little more than rump shaking and self hating violence." I think this particular viewpoint might shed some light on why David Banner may have been influenced to use the controversial lyrical content to achieve his level of success. Seems the major radio stations, record companies and media strongholds want and expect this from the hip hop community.... Shut 'em down!

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-05-30T08:41:11-06:00
ID
63954
Comment

Speaking of media ownership and control, take a look at this article detailing a few cities that experienced difficulties and dangers because of Clear Channel's dominance in the radio waves (link). Seems not only are independent views potentially lost, emergency services could face difficulties spreading the message of local disasters/dangers due to the automation and monopolization of radio broadcasts and broadcasters. *originally posted under another article...

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-05-30T08:44:46-06:00
ID
63955
Comment

I have been all over the web through Google, Altavista, HotBot and Lycos--and I can't find any evidence that WFMN (Supertalk MS) is based anywhere other than Jackson, MS. It's owned by Steve Davenport who bought the MS News Network from Interstate Broadcasting in 1985. They do own the South Carolina News Network and the Southern Urban Network, but I just can't find anything linking them to South Carolina otherwise--even random FCC documents listing stations changing hands list it as in Jackson. A company history link--http://www.telesouth.com/about_us.htm

Author
JW
Date
2003-05-30T09:24:49-06:00
ID
63956
Comment

I found similar results, JW... Will email Bingo to see if she has more details.

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-05-30T09:39:22-06:00
ID
63957
Comment

All, today could be the last day to force the FCC to allow public comment on these media-ownership rules; the decision is due Monday! Look ahead on this one, regardless of ideology; a Michael Powell victory doesn't just mean that conservatives are going to rule the airwaves forever; imagine, for instance if the Clear Channel reins got passed to a liberal heir in, say, Venice Beach; suddenly every paper and station in *Jackson* could be run by a pot-smoking beach hippy (a fictional scenario, BTW). The point is, we own these airwaves, and we need a diversity of media and viewpoints to keep us all on our toes and to preserve the American way. Someone said to me last night that if 100 people from the heart of Mississippi started complaining, they might just listen, and I think he had a point. So pick up your phone and call Sen. Lott's office 202/224-6253, fax him at 202/224-2262, or click the link below to send an automated letter, or do all three! How to respond: http://www.mediareform.net Background: http://www.moveon.org/moveonbulletin/bulletin12.html Also, JW, thanks for your question on the Supertalk station. I've asked Bingo to check it out and report back for us. If we made a mistake, we'll be the first to admit it.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-05-30T13:07:54-06:00
ID
63958
Comment

JW, you are absolutly right. I must have gotten my wires crossed and thank you for pointing out my mistake. TeleSouth Communications, Inc. is a Jackson owned corporation. They own the Mississippi News Network (which includes SuperTalk WFMN), the Mississippi Agri-news Network, Southern Urban Network and the South Carolina News Network.

Author
bingo
Date
2003-05-30T15:32:02-06:00
ID
63959
Comment

Will add to the magazine corrections on the home page! Thanks for being watchful JW! :)

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-05-30T16:36:34-06:00
ID
63960
Comment

I love Code Pink--the women who dress in hot pink and kick up dust about important issues like the media ownership rules. Talk about being the change. Here's a story about demonstrations around the country against the rule changes. http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2003/05/30/media_protests/index.html By the way, I just ran "Clarion-Ledger" and "FCC" and "ownership" through the Nexis database, and can't find a single mention of this FCC ownership controversy. The company's flagship, USA Today, did run a couple stories, though, this month. The first one's particularly decent: http://www.usatoday.com/money/covers/2001-07-09-bcovmon.htm http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2003-05-12-fcc_x.htm For what it's worth.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-05-30T17:25:10-06:00
ID
63961
Comment

Check out this bipartisan opposition: "We are committed to making sure that as the media industry evolves and consolidates, the voice of local broadcasters is not stifled or silenced," says the letter, whose signatories include Sens. Trent Lott, R-Miss.; Ted Stevens, R-Alaska; Jesse Helms, R-N.C.; John Edwards, D-N.C.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; and Max Cleland, D-Ga.; and Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich., and Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-05-30T17:27:41-06:00
ID
63962
Comment

Well, I'm glad to see Lott and I agree on at least one point! ;)

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-05-30T17:48:16-06:00
ID
63963
Comment

Wow...who woulda thunk that you'd see Trent Lott and Barbara Boxer agreeing on something....

Author
Leslie
Date
2003-06-03T11:06:28-06:00
ID
63964
Comment

Yes, Trent Lott is the hero of the day--one of the loudest voices, it seems, protesting this ownership coup. I applaud him. We need more non-partisan outcry over moves to allow monopolies to squelch free enterprise. He was quoted in the Clarion-Ledger today: "When you allow this type of concentration, where you could have a market where one company could own and dominate the print media, could theoretically own one of the dish networks, could own the local cable, could own the local television station or two stations, where is the limit? So I think this is a mistake." Click here to read my analysis today of the Clarion-Ledger (belated) report on this, as well as a report from their USA Today big sister about what it all means ... for Gannett and other biggies: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news_comments.php?id=1132_0_3_0_C

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-03T11:31:20-06:00
ID
63965
Comment

I can remember when Lott, Inc exclaimed the media was a savage beast for analyzing and being overly critical of Lott's (racist/homophobic) past comments. It would be interesting to know if this is an agenda to keep the 'haters' from having more voice or if he's truly concerned with freedoms and independent media... Sadly, I do not trust Lott's motives on any agenda and always second-guess his actions and motions. Of course, I love conspiracy theories and can only assume this is probably paranoia creeping....

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-06-03T14:04:18-06:00
ID
63966
Comment

I actually don't care what Lott's motives are in this case, even if I would ultimately disagree with them. It could be as simple as not allowing what many people consider the, er, "liberal" Clarion-Ledger to control the airwaves, too, and it probably has a lot to do with his support of religious broadcasting. (Personally, I worry as much about what the C-L doesn't report as what they do.) Regardless, I believe there are principles that should transcend partisan politics--and preventing the proliferation of one voice, any one voice, is paramount. And from a business standpoint, monopolies break down true free enterprise, which I believe in wholeheartedly over corporate capitalism. There is a difference, although many in the GOP don't want us to talk about that. Our local media situation is bad enough right now, and terribly un-local as Bingo reports above--just imagine it getting worse, with one company controlling the flow of information and the advertising deals that run smaller outlets, whatever their bent, out of business. And then if that media conglomerate, whichever side it's swinging to, is supportive of the government, you end up with something akin to state media. And make no mistake: It is just as important what media do not report as what they do--the sin of omission. And then we don't know they're not reporting it because nothing else gets through ... well, you get the picture. I'm with Lott on this one.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-03T14:14:47-06:00
ID
63967
Comment

I completely agree... Any voice of protest on this issue is a voice needed. I also see your point about religious broadcasting (which somewhat falls on the doorstep of my comments about him needing his own airwaves).

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-06-03T14:22:07-06:00
ID
63968
Comment

BTW, I should have said "blindly supportive of the government" above -- meaning in an unquestioning way. And for those whom this doesn't worry because you love everything the current government does, just think ahead or back a few years to a government with principles you abhor, and the dangers become clearer. Of course, my ulimate point is that I NEVER want just one voice, not even my own. ;-) For one, that would be infinitely boring; worse, it would mean that we're not thinking, and talking and finding better solutions. We'd just be supporting the status quo, whomever owns it, and it sure wouldn't be the American experiment of pluralism and democracy we all signed onto. John Dewey said, "Democracy starts with conversation." One voice does not a conversation make. And now this voice is going to stop waxing philosophically and get some work done. Keep agitatin', y'all.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-03T14:38:35-06:00
ID
63969
Comment

There is something bothering me enourmously in this debate, and I have had a hard time putting my finger on it. I am all for an unregulated press--the Constitution says it and I believe it. TV and radio can be shoehorned in under the press freedoms due to the whole "living document" precedents--the Founding Fathers would have said it was if it had been invented at that point. etc. So make no mistake about my belief on that. I think what is bothering me is that when I grew up, there were four TV networks on the dial--CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS. And we lived so far out in the sticks that we couldn't even get ABC. All the radio stations where I lived played country music, and everyone subscribed to one newspaper--the local one that printed high school scores and pictures of prizewinning farm animals. Fast forward to 1993. I moved to Jackson, which had four local TV stations, six radio stations that all played either 60's music or Top 40, each suburb had one paper, and Jackson had the CL and the Northside Sun. And if you wanted 24 hour news, you had CNN. Fast forward to now. Jackson has the CL, Northside Sun, MS Business Journal, and three "alternative" papers. Rankin County alone has four weekly newspapers. Same TV stations, same radio stations only now under ClearChannel. Five all-news cable stations, a chain of five all-news locally owned radio stations, BET News, MTV News, WGN News. And anyone in MS who has a computer can access newspapers all over the world as well as any alternative news sites they wish--even including the ever-quirky Jackson Progressive. I don't get a sense of media consolidation when I look at this--I'm sorry. Is it a case of where MS just now caught up with the rest of the world? And those gains will be rolled back with this rule? I did research on independent radio in MS--outside of Jackson, Meridian, and Tupelo, Clearchannel is simply not interested in MS. We're too small a market. What am I missing here?

Author
JW
Date
2003-06-03T15:24:14-06:00
ID
63970
Comment

JW, I'm going to comment quickly due to some pressing demands, but will likely post more later on this (so don't hold anything I say quickly now against me ). The issue here isn't really about the number of small outlets -- it's about their reach and saturation of the market. Yes, we need all sorts of indy media to get people thinking and act as necessary "megaphones" for policymakers and other media; and, yes, consolidation makes it easier for big media to squish those efforts by monopoly and unfair trade practices if they decide they want to. But that's not my biggest concern here. I'm naive enough to think we'll make it based on pure passion and hubris. ;-) My worry is about what *daily* media are talking about day in, day out -- the limited viewpoints and news that get to the largest numbers of people, the mainstream. If one newspaper company is controlling what's on TV and radio, or another combo thereof, it becomes very limited on what gets through, even as media should offer a cornucopia of ideas for us all to ponder. And if the monopoly company is based somewhere else, they ultimately will likely care more about high profit margins than, say, whether or not we keep a police chief in place long enough to institute some needed reforms. Sensationalism pays; not hunkering down for the long haul. We already have that situation here in some ways; this ownership relaxation can just make it worse. All for now, though. More soon.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-03T15:39:27-06:00
ID
63971
Comment

BTW, JW, in your list of Jackson publications, you missed the Jackson Advocate, the Mississippi Link (which does the best weekly reporting in town), and at least two new African-American-focused magazines. In a discussion about what media ownership is going to do to diversity in coverage, it makes little sense to mention the Northside Sun, which covers little of the city itself, and not the black papers in town.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-03T15:43:21-06:00
ID
63972
Comment

I also "forgot" MS Magazine, MS Woods and Waters, Mississippi Medical News, MD News, Mississippi Supervisor, Parents and Kids, Travelhost Magazine, Magnolia Report, Premier Bride, and Jackson Christian Family (and Thrifty Nickel and FSBO, for that matter). I was referring mostly to news organizations with a general interest emphasis rather than niche or special interest publications. But that just underscores the point--there's an awful lot of words and opinions out there IF people are motivated to pay attention to them and read them.

Author
JW
Date
2003-06-03T21:27:34-06:00
ID
63973
Comment

JW, I don't think the ones I mention--because they are black-focused--are special-interest publications, certainly no more than Northside Sun or the other weeklies. Jackson, after all, is two-thirds black, and those papers show up in more of the city than most of the "general interest" publications you mention.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-04T00:26:47-06:00
ID
63974
Comment

NY Times: "A bipartisan majority of an important Senate committee indicated today that it would vote to overturn some of the media ownership rules adopted two days ago, reversing one of the most significant deregulatory steps undertaken during the Bush administration." And don't miss the Bob Herbert column at this same link about the cozy relationship between lobbyists and the FCC. It seems that no one in Washington these days can make a conflict of interest they don't like. http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/060603C.shtml

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-06T09:37:56-06:00
ID
63975
Comment

Let your Senator know how you feel at www.moveon.org You can sign an online petition there. Make a stink!

Author
bingo
Date
2003-06-06T12:39:07-06:00
ID
63976
Comment

From Childrennow.org: "Fight Over Media Consolidation Moves to the Hill (Top) Lawmakers at the nation's capital are considering partially reversing last week's FCC ruling to relax media ownership rules. Children Now is still very concerned about the FCC's overall ruling because of the multitude of negative impacts that increased concentration of media ownership will have on children's programming. While the FCC's stipulation offers the child audience some protection from the serious harm the rule change will have on children's programming, it is but a small rowboat for children to navigate in the tidal wave of media consolidation that is about to occur. On June 19, the Senate Commerce Committee will be considering legislation to reverse much of the FCC's decision. This is a critical time for you to make your voice heard and to express your disappointment in the FCC's decision! "

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-11T18:29:12-06:00
ID
63977
Comment

Where was the outrage when America On Line and Time Incorporated and the Warner Brothers were all having their lovefest? And way back in 1996, when the TeleCom Act was signed, which unleashed the ClearChannel beast, where were the drums of outrage? (Insert your Gingrich joke here...) Frothing about radio ownership these days (I know that the recent bill goes way beyond that, but that seems to be the proverbial RUB.) is kinda like getting peeved over a postage increase. I'll pay the USPS $2 to deliver a letter to a friend in California anyday. As far as radio is concerned, if it's not All Things Considered, Tunes Till 2, or that crazy house-dance-thing-mix on 99.7 on Friday nights, yo, I don't care. I just play my tapes. In my car. Yeah. What about you?

Author
JLosset
Date
2003-06-12T01:35:33-06:00
ID
63978
Comment

Hey, I was outraged then, too. ;-) Actually, a lot of folks were, but you can tell how much good it's done.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-12T09:28:04-06:00
ID
63979
Comment

Personally J, I didn't have this forum in which to air my greivances. I did plenty of bitchin' and moanin' to my friends and family, but truth be known, they tend to block me out. I did write and call Lott at the time and got the standard response.

Author
Bingo
Date
2003-06-12T12:23:31-06:00
ID
63980
Comment

Can you feel the love? http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16105

Author
Reader
Date
2003-06-12T12:29:52-06:00
ID
63981
Comment

Let me guess, back in 1996, Jackson wasn't hearing much about the dangers of media monopoly, either. Imagine. (Apologies for my sarcasm on this one.)

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-12T13:38:14-06:00
ID
63982
Comment

Donna, you posted a Salon article a while back that spoke well to the various reasons that radio had restrictions lifted, among them that the bill was promoted by Clinton as a way to break local cable TV monopolites and foster competition (no one in the Clinton administration went out of their way to point out the radio provisions. Why?) and that by 1996, radio was not seen as a media outlet in the same way that TV and newspapers are--it was a strictly entertainment medium rather than an arm of a vigilant and unfettered free press. Can you hunt that link up again?

Author
JW
Date
2003-06-12T14:43:11-06:00
ID
63983
Comment

Points taken. Didn't mean to trivialize the issue, this is just one thing that feels like a done deal. If the FTC didn't find any anti-trust violations in the AOL-Time Warner merger, then it would follow that ANYTHING is possible (and maybe encouraged). I agree, though, it's a sad state of affairs.

Author
JLosset
Date
2003-06-12T14:47:53-06:00
ID
63984
Comment

Good points, Jay. Agreed. JW, I think that piece should still be in the NewsBlog. I'll try to dig it out, but look through, too, if you get a chance, meantime. I'm supposed to be working today. ;-D You can see I haven't even posted the new content, yet, and today's the day. There's a Trent Lott column in the new issue about all this; seems he and I are in perfect agreement.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-12T15:07:05-06:00
ID
63985
Comment

I think this may be the article... Take a look and let me know, if not. http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news_comments.php?id=P678_0_3_0_C

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-06-12T15:16:36-06:00
ID
63986
Comment

do I sound like a broken record or what?

Author
JLosset
Date
2003-06-12T15:38:41-06:00
ID
63987
Comment

Well, I guess you could say you have stood firmly on your opinions. ;)

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-06-12T16:19:13-06:00
ID
63988
Comment

And I would posit that network television is on it's way to becoming just as much a strictly entertainment medium (rather than an arm of the free press) as radio seems to be now--remember when 60 Minutes showed video of the young man declaring that juries in Holmes County were paid off to vote for plaintiffs, and it obviously never occured to the programming personnel that maybe a little journalistic skill was called for to back the statement up? When the product is largely crud anyway---*shrug*

Author
JW
Date
2003-06-12T16:43:12-06:00
ID
63989
Comment

I'm with you there, JW. Todd and I have let our cable go. It wasn't worth paying a hundred dollars a month to watch "The Daily Show," no matter how good Jon Stewart is.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-06-12T17:08:50-06:00
ID
63990
Comment

What about that Savage idiot? Personally, I boycott companies that advertise on Rush and I will boycott companies that advertise on Savage. Not because their political views differ from mine but because they are mean, rude men and I refuse to give money to them in any fashion, which is my right. I support the people he is suing and am thinking about contributing for their legal fees, which you can do at www.takethemediaback.com Power to the People!

Author
bingo
Date
2003-06-12T19:03:44-06:00
ID
63991
Comment

Oh, and thanks Reader for posting that link!

Author
bingo
Date
2003-06-12T19:04:22-06:00
ID
63992
Comment

It's great to see a bipartisan group of legislators standing up to Bush, Gannett, Clear Channel and Michael Powell on the media-ownership rules; the house voted 400-21 to amend the new rules that would allow corporate giants like Gannett to completely take over local media. And cheers to Sen. Lott for his staunch opposition to the rules. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37741-2003Jul23.html Columbia Journalism Review: "The big guys will get bigger and the little guys will have to decide whether they want to exist anymore.î That thumbnail synopsis from a Wall Street analyst at the Sanford C. Bernstein firm says a great deal about how the FCCís revised rules on media ownership, handed down on June 2, may affect the way Americans get their news. http://www.cjr.org/year/03/4/hickey.asp

Author
ladd
Date
2003-08-03T10:18:17-06:00
ID
63993
Comment

Want to know specifically what Gannett owns in addition to the Clarion "Real Mississippi" Ledger? See http://www.cjr.org/owners/gannett.asp Clear Channel? http://www.cjr.org/owners/clearchannel.asp And to keep an eye on corporate media ownership overall, check out CJR's "Who Owns What" feature, which is regularly updated: http://www.cjr.org/owners/

Author
ladd
Date
2003-08-03T10:28:49-06:00

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