In the media reform world, we often say we’re fighting for
“better” media. Of course, “better” is the sort of word that begs comparison:
better than what? If we’re to demand more of our local broadcasters, we need to
know what’s wrong with the status quo.
Broadcasters use the public airwaves free of charge, and in return
are supposed to provide programming that fulfills the news and information
needs of communities. The Federal Communications Commission requires
broadcasters to keep public files detailing exactly how they serve local needs.
But these records are generally kept in file cabinets at local TV stations and
are not easily accessible. So the pressure is on for broadcasters to put these
files online in a publicly searchable database.
Media conglomerates continue to squeeze
the life out of radio, and the Federal Communications Commission continues
to facilitate the slow death.
The New York Times recently reported that media giants Clear
Channel and Cumulus Media are forming
a “daily deal” alliance to compete with sites like
Groupon and LivingSocial. Clear Channel will run ads for Sweetjack, Cumulus’
daily-deals program, meaning radio personalities from both companies will
endorse the business discounts in corresponding markets. In exchange, Clear Channel gets to add Cumulus’ radio stations to its
iHeartRadio online listening service.