What Can I Do?

  • It is categorically wrong for public money to be used to subsidize a monopoly such as iBiquity, proprietary licensor of HD radio. Millions of dollars of funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have been used to promote the spread of HD radio by grants to local public radio stations for conversion to a substandard IBOC system, which not only fails to deliver on claims of superior quality but also interferes with signals from adjacent stations. Even FCC Commissioner Michael Copps admitted, “Everybody involved pretty much admitted from the outset that the digital radio initiative is all about giving the broadcast industry more avenues to make money rather than actually improving radio from the perspective of the listener.”
  • On the local level, funds from local communities are being diverted to bring up and fill additional HD stations with canned product from entities such as NPR, PRI, and the BBC — at the expense of local personalities, shows, and concerns. This group comprises people from five cities so affected, and at least a dozen other cities so afflicted have been identified. Protests by concerned citizens in these locales have either been ignored or given short shrift by those in station management, who often justify themselves using the junk science propagated by the troubled company Arbitron, source of ratings for commercial stations (whose “new, improved” methodology for determining radio audience, the PPM, comes with this disclaimer: “PPM ratings are based on audience estimates and are the opinion of Arbitron and should not be relied on for precise accuracy or precise representativeness of a demographic or radio market”).
  • The business of public radio should, in fact, be the airing of music and other content not heard on a thousand other stations. The looming homogenization of our local public radio is anathema to the very spirit of community-based radio and should not, in any event, be bankrolled by taxpayer money.
  • As NPR has engaged in an questionable alliance with iBiquity solely to shore up its own bottom line — at the expense of local shows, local personalities, and local sensibilities — we ask that the CPB be prohibited from extending any further funds to the advancement of such an extremity. Further, we would request that public radio stations receiving taxpayer money be required by law to completely disclose their finances — to wit, forms 990 to be posted on their websites as they are filed. As a great majority of public stations are affiliated with universities — and therefore may hide behind various state laws — many choose to ignore any kind of public oversight. The Congressional Budget Office might best be able to judge how public money is being used and whether there is any malfeasance involved.

Where does the money come from? Here are the subcommittee members in the two houses of Congress who preside over funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Their email addresses are provided so you might drop them a line and let them know how you feel about this. Feel free to steal any and all of the bullet points above or make up your own.

Here also are links to the House and Senate.

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee:

Chair: David R. Obey (D-WI) http://obey.house.gov/

Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) http://www.house.gov/lowey/

Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) http://www.house.gov/delauro

Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-IL) http://www.house.gov/jackson/

Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) http://patrickkennedy.house.gov/

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) http://www.house.gov/roybal-allard/

Barbara Lee (D-CA) http://lee.house.gov/

Michael Honda (D-CA) http://www.house.gov/honda/

Betty McCollum (D-MN) http://www.house.gov/mccollum/

Tim Ryan (D-OH) http://www.house.gov/mccollum/

James P. Moran (D-VA) http://moran.house.gov/

Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) http://www.house.gov/tiahrt/

Dennis R. Rehberg (R-MT) http://www.house.gov/rehberg/

Rodney Alexander (R-LA) http://alexander.house.gov/

Jo Bonner (R-AL) http://bonner.house.gov/

Tom Cole (R-OK) http://www.cole.house.gov/

Jerry Lewis (R-CA) http://www.house.gov/jerrylewis/

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee:

Senator Tom Harkin (Chairman) (D-IA) http://harkin.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) http://inouye.senate.gov/Contact/Email-Form.cfm

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) http://kohl.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) http://murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) http://landrieu.senate.gov/about/contact.cfm

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) http://durbin.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) http://reed.senate.gov/contact/contact-share.cfm

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) http://pryor.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactMe

Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) http://specter.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm

Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) http://cochran.senate.gov/email.html

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) http://gregg.senate.gov/contact/

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) http://hutchison.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) http://shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactSenatorShelby.EmailSenatorShelby

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) http://alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email

Example

What follows is a letter emailed to Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on the subcommittee governing the funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Though tailored for the Texas senator, the basic text will also be sent to every senator and congressperson in the subcommittees of the House and Senate, as listed in this category, to the extent that their websites accept messages from people out of their districts. Get involved! Draw freely from this letter and/or the bullet points on the home page and compose your own letter. Send it to everyone you can. Only through action can the word get out — most notably to those in control of the purse strings. And only from a widespread response of this sort can we get the attention of those who could actually do something about this. Actions speak louder than words.

To the Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
Dear Senator Hutchison:

In this time of increasing financial distress, we would submit that the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in its oversight of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is doing a grave disservice to the American taxpayer. The CPB, in its actions, is subsidizing the proliferation of HD radio by bankrolling the sole proprietor of the IBOC technology, iBiquity, wholly to shore up the bottom line of National Public Radio and its partners — at the expense of local jobs, local radio shows, and local interests. Millions of dollars from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have been used to promote the spread of HD radio by grants of from $75,000 to $95,000 to local public radio stations for conversion to a substandard IBOC system, which not only fails to deliver on claims of superior quality but also interferes with signals from existing stations.

These are supposed to be the public airwaves, and for them to be held hostage by a monopoly company — at the behest of a national news organization or of any single interest — is anathema to the original principles of radio. Unfortunately, the FCC has been complicit, as detailed in a Radio World article (which also ties NPR in with some behind-the-scenes dealing) and on a national website (https://keeppublicradiopublic.com/) formed to publicize this travesty. This national website brings together members of five cities so compromised by this action and willing to demonstrate opposition — Boston, Austin, Seattle, Gainesville (FL), and Johnson City (TN). And additional cities, including Los Angeles, Detroit, Nashville, Winston-Salem, Fort Myers, Birmingham, Urbana-Champaign, and Hartford, have so far been identified as also impacted.

On the local level, funds from local donors are being diverted to bring up and fill added HD stations with canned product from entities such as NPR, PRI, and the BBC — to the detriment, once again, of local personalities, shows, and concerns. This, in addition to money channeled at the direction of NPR into increased local news coverage (through its CPB-funded startup of “Project Argo”), part of the company’s solution to sagging revenues over the past decade (chronicled in this examination of the changes at KUT-FM in Austin: http://www.savekutaustin.com/?p=3648).

We would urge you to look further into the documentation of these and other pertinent websites, and implore you to enjoin CPB from further subsidization of HD radio and its monopoly overlord. This suspect technology is soaking up tax dollars, causing untold job losses in local economies, and adversely impacting the quality of radio nationwide.

In addition, it is abhorrent in our system of government that some of these public radio stations are allowed to operate in the dark, as independent entities without any public oversight whatsoever. Not only do they receive taxpayer funds in the form of CPB grants; they also solicit tax-exempt pledges from the public during semiannual pledge drives. Yet some of these — including KUT, owned by your own University of Texas — choose to hide behind state law and withhold any substantive information on station finances. In contrast, some like organizations post extensive records (see, for instance, the audit reports available for public viewing at the website for the American Public Media Group, http://americanpublicmediagroup.publicradio.org/companies/scpr.shtml). We would request that any public radio stations receiving taxpayer money be required by law to completely disclose their finances — to wit, audit reports to be posted on their websites as completed.

We sincerely hope that you will give thought to this abuse of taxpayer money and the role your committee might play in the redress of these grievances.

Respectfully submitted,
**********************

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One Response

  1. Not only what you mentioned, but more taxpayer money has been used for the expensive “upgrade” for the FM-HD power increase, which will further destroy the signals of the smaller, adjacent-channel broadcasters:

    http://www.cpb.org/grants/grant.php?id=258

    Also, take a look at this:

    “HD Radio: Wisconsin Public Radio”

    “The WPR HD Radio stations are being upgraded with State Building Commission funds, contributions from public radio listeners, and through grant support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).”

    http://www.wpr.org/hd/

    Who’s ever going to investigate the iBiquity/NPR/NAB/FCC relationships – don’t count on Congress, as they are part of the HD Radio Scam. That Austin, TX dude was back again today with his proxy-server, hitting my blog three times, referred from your site. Also, Clear Channel Rockville, MD was searching on “iBiquity IPO”. LOL!

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