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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


March 25, 2003

Nation's Largest Radio Conglomerate Oranizing Pro-War Rallies

'Media giant's rally sponsorship raises questions' (3/19/03 - Chicago Tribune)

Clear Channel -- the largest owner of radio stations in the country -- is leveraging it's massive resources to promote the invasion of Iraq. Not just by using the stations they own to broadcast the likes of Rush Limbaugh, but by actually sponsoring pro-war rallies.

One rally in Atlanta reportedly drew 20,000 flag-wavers. There have also been rallies in Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Diego, Charleston, SC, and Richmond, VA. In addition to promoting them via their own airwaves, the Clear Channel web site has been used to promote the rallies.

Clear Channel spokesperson Lisa Dollinger claims the rallies are "not intended to be pro-military. ...They're just patriotic rallies." Yeah right.

Dollinger also claims there is no corporate directive that stations organize rallies. Yet all of them have the same name -- "Rally for America" -- and parent-company resources are being used to promote them. What's more, as Kim Masters reported for the March 25 broadcast of Marketplace, "the ties between the Mayes family, which operates Clear Channel [in San Antonio, TX] and the Bush Administration are long-standing and very well known."

Former FCC Commissioner Glen Robinson, who now teaches law at the University of Virginia, told the Chicago Tribune, "I can't say that this violates any of a broadcaster's obligations, but it sounds like borderline manufacturing of the news."

Alas, such blatant manipulation -- however unethical -- is perfectly legal for a media giant. In 1987 the Reagan-era FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to cover controversial issues in their community and to do so by offering balancing views.

"Coincidentally," Clear Channel is facing problems in the FCC, which is considering ownership rule changes that would limit the size and growth of media giants. Golly, you don't suppose they're trying to win any points with the Bush Admin, do ya? Nah -- the fact that Colin Powell's son is the whorish chairman of the FCC has nothing to do with anything.

Clear Channel owns and operates 1,233 radio stations (including six in Chicago) and claims 100 million listeners. The company is in 248 of the top 250 radio markets, controlling 60% of all rock programming. It generated about 20 percent of the radio industry's $16 billion in 2001 revenues. They own the network which airs Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and the Fox Sports Radio Network. Clear Channel stations have 103,000,000 listeners in the U.S. and 1,000,000,000 globally (1/6 of the world population).

[Read the source...]

Update: FCC chairman Michael Powell announced on March 27 that the Commission will vote June 2 on new media ownership rules. Powell said he expects the rules "to be liberalized a bit." Currently the rules limit a single company to a 35 percent share of the national TV audience, and bans companies from owning a newspaper in a market where they already own a TV or radio station.

Powell made his feelings on the matter, already no secret, perfectly clear in his remarks to the conservative Media Institute. "The noisemakers must join us in a commitment to finding solutions," he bellowed. "We need compelling proposals, not rhetoric, and defense of those proposals, not the usual alarmist political attacks designed just to prevent change."

Alarmist?? "Just" to prevent change??? Whatever...

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