There Is No Cat

A huge orangupoid, which no man can conquer

Thursday, March 27, 2003

It's not fair!

Shelley Powers wrote to her favorite local radio station complaining about their blatant pro-war bias in their programming. This sort of thing has been happening quite a bit, particularly in stations owned by Clear Channel. In the comments on her post, Kafkaesqui shows that the station is owned by Infinity Broadcasting.

Infinity is, of course, the second 800 pound gorilla of radio in the US, and Clear Channel's main competitor. The two of them form a duopoly that controls a huge percentage of all stations in the country, thanks to the near complete deregulation of broadcast media ownership a few years ago.

I haven't written to any of my local stations asking for unbiased coverage because I don't listen to most local radio, and haven't for years. I'm not interested in their superficial coverage of current affairs, and my taste in music is such that I don't listen to them for entertainment either. The one local station I listen to is an NPR affiliate, and they air mostly national coverage or programs from the BBC World Service, so writing the station wouldn't make any difference.

I tend to think that any particular station will inevitably have a bias of one sort or another, so I figure I'll get my media diversity by sampling a wide variety of media. I'll turn on my shortwave radio, for example, and listen to the BBC, but I'll also listen to Deutsche Welle from Germany, Radio France International, Radio Netherlands, Radio Australia, and even Radio Jordan, which was using music as a subtle form of commentary when I tuned in yesterday. (All these stations broadcast in English, incidentally.) I also read newspapers from around the world.

I'm not saying Shelley's wrong to hammer her local station; I think it's a great idea. I think the repealing of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 was a huge mistake, and that action is what has allowed broadcast media to lean so far in one direction or another without consequences. There's nothing in the law that says they have to be fair or balanced. To nobody's surprise, Fox has even argued that they are allowed to lie in their broadcasts with no consequences. With the absence of the Fairness Doctrine, a court agreed with them. Given all that, it's imperative to seek out as wide a variety of media and opinion as you can.

Posted at 9:10 AM

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

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