"Indeed I think Michael Powell's ruling on Bono's using the F-word will most likely push the line one more huge notch toward bad taste in the media. Sadly Mr Powell may not have realized the incredible upheaval his ruling will have. I can see it now in a desperate attempt to get better ratings, it will undoubtably start being dropped it into late night TV programs, Then of course it will spread into late prime shows like the highly rated NYPD Blue, Detective Sipowitz will tell some criminal whose pushing his buttons to F**K off, and before you know it Chandler & Joey on Friends will see Rachel in some outfit and exclaim F**K!!! Its only a matter of time now.
So in the past, forbidden words were brought into the norm of the Public airwaves based on whether these words were commonplace in America's language. We do hear the F-word all the time in movies and even in special shows and comedy acts on Pay TV. Yes, we certainly know that the F-word is an everyday word for a huge proportion of today's under 50 generation as it's commonly used as an exclamation or adjective to enhance the effect of a statement. The sad thing John is that we are viewing things in the future without reviewing the past ..." (read more of Guy Zapoleon's comments)
This could be the biggest story of the year....
Longtime consumer advocate and Green Party candidate (and charter subscriber to MusicBiz) Ralph Nader is about to expand his attack on corporate radio by petitioning the FCC to deny license renewals to more stations. The new petitions are on top of the ones he filed against 63 Clear Channel stations in September. Nader claims Clear Channel "violated the law on 36 separate occasions over the last three years, demonstrating its poor character...Clear Channel is not qualified to hold a broadcast license under the FCC's own character rules." Nader claims he'll take his case all the way to the Supreme Court.
Well FUCK !
While most Americans slept, the FCC approved the use of the word FUCK on all of the radio and TV stations in our nation.
We probably shouldn�t be surprised. It�s what the smut peddlers have wanted all along.
�We are merely echoing the language of the street�, comes the excuse from broadcast disciples of Larry Flynt. The same media that takes credit for being able to sell a clients product, hides from any responsibility for lowering morality standards in our society.
These are the same cash hungry industry merchants who can�t figure out why there is such a decline in listeners and viewers to the �public� airwaves. Shock jocks are now on almost every station, each trying to create a name by out-sterning Howard. If they don�t drive away listeners, then the commercials will. Penis enlargement, titty tantalizers, porno palaces, all are accepted by these clowns who will sell anything for a damn dollar. These aren�t broadcasters � they are advertising pimps. Their bottom line is built with slime.
Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is equally to blame. He and the elected officials who sat quietly and didn�t express outrage over this repugnant use of barn yard vocabulary on the nations airwaves, are certainly diminished in my eyes.
P.S. - To you who may find this commentary offensive�my apology. But get ready for more�a lot more to come on the �public�s airwaves�.
In the days ahead, I have asked distinguished broadcasters to comment on this subject...we will feature them here.
Reformatting the FCC
Like so much else these days the agency given the responsibility of regulating the public airwaves has been exposed for what it really is, a political football controlled by those it is charged with overseeing.
As we have noted many times before - man is greedy, an inch of leeway will turn into a mile with the help of an aggressive lawyer. As with so much else in our society, instead of following the law as intended, politicians and the media will do whatever it takes to bend or change the rules to better serve themselves, with little thought given to serving the public interest.
The misdeeds of those who serve as underlings and commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission are well documented by The Center for Public Integrity and other respected organizations who speak on behalf of the public. We will attempt to not focus on the lack of ethic�s and/or corruption itself, but to suggest changes at the FCC that will better do what that agency should be doing - protect the public�s airwaves.
The Federal Communications Commission was once one of the most respected regulatory agencies in Washington, D.C. It wasn�t that long ago, broadcasters realized what the agency gives, it can also take away. The past dozen years not only spawned deregulation of the media, it also gave away to almost a total disregard for the rules and regulations of the FCC.
Appointed officials have proven to be obligated to serve agendas of special interests, not the public. The Federal Communications Commission today is controlled by the party in power. Perhaps future FCC commissioners should be chosen by a direct vote of the electorate. At least one of the elected officials could be an �independent� with no party affiliation. These commissioners should be subjected to a similar �review of performance�, as licensees of broadcast facilities are. How to achieve this is a question yet to be answered.
The rules limiting controlling interest of newspapers, television and radio should continue. This is especially true in smaller markets, where monopolies limit dissent.
Deregulation, without a strong regulatory agency willing to enforce it, has proven to be ineffective in protecting the public�s airwaves. The first goal of the Federal Communications Commission should be to the public, not the industry it regulates. Broadcasters should concentrate on serving the public interest at least equal to the financial interest of the licensee.
Receiving a license without paying a spectrum fee, does little to create value for the right to �use� the public airwaves. Competitive bidding for leasing the use of the public�s airwaves should be considered. A lesser fee could serve as an incentive for providing programming or service not duplicated by another facility in the community of license. Above all, a prospective licensee must be accountable for providing local news and information to the community they pledge to serve. Seeking out issues of importance to the community and inviting comment, should be an important part of a licensees responsibility.
Deregulation has led to a decrease in local news, information and public service programming, with licensee�s largely aiming their programming to attract what is referred to as �the money demo� � the audience advertisers pay premium rates for.
This has given to an abundant duplication in programming, with several stations in a given market each competing for the same audience.
The rush to deregulate now places the onus on the public to prove a broadcaster is unworthy. That should be reversed. Before renewal, a licensee should be required to prove they have provided an exemplary service, possibly in open hearings in their community of license. This would do much to direct a licensee toward truly providing local service. A licensee should provide documentation detailing the expense of local news and services provided. Bartering programming from distant sources may enrich the finances of a licensee, but it pales in comparison to the service local programming can provide.
Local programming is the key to radio�s success�past and future. Satellite radio is staking it�s claim on national programming. Local radio had better do what it can do best�concentrate on local programming.
We welcome your thoughts on this important subject of reformatting an agency whose deregulation of the media has done little to address the needs of the local community.
In the days ahead, we will feature your comments, anonymous if requested, with your ideas on how the FCC can accomplish what it was intended to do.
Randy and Mel, what a team !
Had they ever teamed up, Randy Michaels and Mel Karmazin surely would have unseated Larry Flynt - the King of Smut.
Randy, who I must admit I never heard of as a programmer, rose to the top of Clear Channel radio from his one claim to fame, that of a shock jock. As a programmer,
he never advanced into the nations top 20 markets. His idea of a great radio station would have featured Lenny Bruce and Andrew Dice Clay in drive time and Jerry Springer doing mid-days. Too hell with class or serving the public, ratings at all cost obviously was his motto.
Mel came from the other side of the hall. I can only imagine how the program director of the station must have battled constantly with the guy Wall Street now calls the Zen Master of sales. Karmazin, not to be out done by Michaels, gave radio Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony and Deminsky & Doyle.
Heretofore, radios reject - Stern, given a free pass by Mel, proved what we have always known, shouting profanity will indeed create attention, but it doesn�t demonstrate much programming talent. Karmazin built an entire company on Howard�s slime.
With FCC chairman Michael Powell�s blessing, Mel again decided to cash in with Opie & Anthony. They finally were dumped by Karmazin when they encouraged listener�s to have sex in St. Patrick�s cathedral, but only after advertisers began to effect the stations bottom line. Even then it took enormous public outcry before Mel�s buddy, Michael Powell and his two republican rubber stamps were forced to accept the wisdom of democrat FCC commissioners Copps and Adelstein. Seems to me any broadcaster in this kind of hot water, would have immediately taken steps to assure the radio stations licensed to them reviewed their programming, or lack of it. Not Mel, who was used to paying thousands of dollars in fines levied against Howard Stern, as a cost of doing business. He continued to give the green light to a classless act in Detroit - Deminsky & Doyle, who FCC commissioner Michael Copps termed �the most vulgar and disgusting indecency� he had ever heard since joining the FCC.
Smarting from his inability to do much right as the FCC chairman, Powell was unable to prevent a hefty quarter of a million dollar fine being levied against Mel�s Opie & Anthony. I�d like to think that got Karmazin�s attention, but somehow I think the real Zen Master at Viacom, Sumner Redstone, probably took Mel to the woodshed. As a salesman, Mel has proven he�d sell ice cream to the devil, if he could make a dime.
It was a decidedly changed Mel Karmazin, who now understands more fully the importance of program director�s with balls as he now admits during a recent conference call, the Opie & Anthony debacle caused �grave financial consequences� for the company. Notice, it was the almighty dollar that caught Mel�s attention.
Even a bigger lesson could take place as the FCC considers revoking the license of Infinity/Viacom�s Detroit station, home of the former Deminsky & Doyle show.
Clear Channel took the right step in removing Randy Michaels from management of that company�s radio division. Don�t be surprised if Sumner Redstone learns from the Mays family. They still haven�t recovered from Randy�s lack of management skills.
Neither company, Clear Channel or Viacom seem to understand it�s programming that delivers sales�not the other way around. This is a lesson they are just beginning to learn from Sirius and XM satellite radio, both have respected programmers in the lead chair.
Without programming, all the marketing in the world means nothing.
"Get out of the way and let them PROGRAM !"
UPDATE - 11-07-03
Infinity AppointsSteve Rivers VP/Programming
With Infinity hiring radio's Steve Rivers VP Programming, he will be responsible for the programming of all Infinity stations across the United States.
As the former chief programmer of AMFM, Rivers brings much needed expertise to Viacom's radio group, Infinity broadcasting.
Perhaps finally, sales driven Infinity has signaled they understand the simple basic's of radio...product must come before marketing and/or sales. The hiring of Steve Rivers and David Hall in recent days indicate Karmazan & company have begun to place some real importance on what's coming out of the radio speaker. Let's hope they allow the programmers to do what they can do...they won't be disapointed.
Meanwhile, Clear Channel minus the legendary programming of Rivers and Hall, have yet to learn the valuable lesson Infinity has. Instead, the boys from Texas are now ordering sales personnel to bring in more revenue...with less ratings. History has proven that kind of thinking wrecked more than one broadcast group.
Good luck to Steve and David. Infinity bosses - get out of the way and let them PROGRAM !
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