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Thursday, January 29, 2004
So, Fairly Crass sent me an email t'other day.

I find this pretty appalling - in short, CBS
(Viacom), who has just received a major favor (the
ability to purchase an even larger slice of the media
pie) from the Bush administration and congressional
republicans, is refusing to run a commercial during
the Super Bowl, because it is "controversial."
However, they ARE running an ad from the White House
that controversially links drugs to terrorism. I
don't suppose it has anything to do with the fact that
this new ad suggests Bush's $1,000,000,000,000+
deficit is irresponsible, and that CBS just got a huge
giveaway from the administration..CBS does not own the
airwaves, we do. Most peole get their information
from television, so we have to make sure all sides
have access to the airwaves; not just those who change
legislation to benefit the few corporations that own
most of the media.

Please watch the 30-second ad linked from this email,
and then you can send a petition to CBS in about 5
seconds, if you're the type of person who likes
democracy. If not, just go back to your sit-com, and
trust that everything is going to be just fine...

To which I replied,

While I do agree with -m's viewpoint, and have signed the petition, I do
feel compelled to point out that while the public owns the bandwidth, CBS
has leased this bandwidth from us. As such, while they do need to provide
public services (news, election coverage, political advertisements), they
are also a private organization, not a democratic one. They have the right
to decide what airs and what does not air. They need to make money. By
airing "controversial" material, they drive away viewers, which in turn
drives away advertisers.

If you really want to make a difference, go to affiliate renewal hearings.
The FCC grants broadcast licences every seven years. File protests against
affiliates, and against Viacom. I doubt the petition will do any good, but
hitting individual affiliates might. Demonstrate that the license holders
have not acted in the public interest. Keep track of times and dates. File
complaints. Start small, and remember that overall, CBS/Viacom tends to be
very conservative politically.

That's the important thing to remember -- yes, we do own the airwaves. But, we allow media agencies to lease the frequencies. The companies do have to serve the public interest, but they don't have the responsibility to uphold the First Amendment. Their only responsibility is to make money. And, they are required to by law. After all, they are leasing the airwaves. Gotta pay the rent somehow. Plus, if PETA and are allowed to air their ads in the interest of free speech, that means that The Rev. Fred Phelps of fame would be able to run his ad, and no one could complain. NAMBLA could start recruitment efforts. Every wackjob in the US could run their ads, and, believe me, people would be bitching about it if they did. Media conglomerates do not have to present all viewpoints. Except from political candidates.

Comments by: YACCS