Dirty Money

  • Jenn Ettinger of Freepress.net sent out an email yesterday that provides a blatant example of the revolving door in politics — whereby a government regulator slides greasily into a high-paid position with a regulatee (in this case, before her term even expired):

Free Press Blasts Comcast-FCC Merger
WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker [a Republican appointee] reportedly will be departing the agency in June to take a job with Comcast-NBC — a company whose multi-billion mega-merger she approved just four months ago.

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaronmade the following statement:

“Less than four months after Commissioner Baker voted to approve Comcast’s takeover of NBC Universal, she’s reportedly departing the FCC to lobby for Comcast-NBC. This is just the latest — though perhaps most blatant — example of a so-called public servant cashing in at a company she is supposed to be regulating.

“As recently as March, Commissioner Baker gave a speech lamenting that review of the Comcast-NBC deal ‘took too long.’ What we didn’t know then was that she was in such a rush to start picking out the drapes in her new corner office.

“No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washington — where the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows. The continuously revolving door at the FCC continues to erode any prospects for good public policy. We hope — but won’t hold our breath — that her replacement will be someone who is not just greasing the way for their next industry job.”

Small wonder we call our government watchdogs toothless old mutts… You get as much protection from a stuffed animal as you do from most “regulators.”

  • Radio professionals are watching closely what results from a recent complaint to the FCC, as noted in Tom Taylor’s newsletter:

From http://www.radio-info.com/newsletter/html/tri-05102011.html:

The Jersey Shore “Thunder Country” hears static from Clear Channel’s new translator in New York.
Press-owned WKMK, Eatontown shares the 106.3 frequency with the moved-in translator that Clear Channel’s using for its new signal in midtown Manhattan. Clear Channel doesn’t actually own the 100-watt signal that used to be just 1-watt at 106.5. But they’ve got a deal to simulcast an HD-2 channel on it and have been rotating through various formats from iHeartRadio since last week. (TRI still thinks they’ll eventually choose smooth jazz, but we’ll see very soon.) Here’s what “Thunder Country” is saying about the supposed interloper — “We are aware that many of our listeners in the counties of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson as well as Staten Island, Brooklyn, Long Island and Lower Manhattan are experiencing interference with our Thunder 106.3 signal…We have become aware that a New York radio station is sending out a signal that is on the same frequency. We have already contacted the FCC about the interference and are making every attempt to have the interference stopped immediately. In the meantime, we could use your help” — and it provides a form on the webpage here to report problems picking up “Thunder.” Now, the 60 dBu contour of Class A WKMK doesn’t get much outside of its home Monmouth County, but it’s probably enjoyed some bonus coverage with nobody else in the neighborhood. That just changed with the Clear Channel deal.

To date, the FCC hasn’t given a tinker’s dam that the major consolidators in radio are using translators to slide around the cap on the number of radio stations a conglomerate can have in a given market — since there’s an outside chance that this might somehow validate the major blunder — by the FCC as well as Big Radio and NPR — of HD radio by monetizing it in some fairy-tale future.

  • Current.org is the latest to check in on the absorption of college radio into the borg, notes Austin Airwaves’ Jim Radio. This piece by Steve Behrens gives a fair synopsis of what has transpired lately:

Houston: Rice University students’ KTRU-FM couldn’t wait until noon for the Minute of Silence; it left the air at 6 that morning and Rice is selling it to pubradio station KUHF at the University of Houston. KTRU Station Manager Kevin Bush stayed up until 6 to join in the goodbyes. The station will continue to operate online at KTRU.org and on an HD Radio channel of Pacifica’s KPFT, but Bush expects the audience will be dramatically smaller. The students’ last-minute agitation had no hope of stopping the sale of 90.7, he says, but it could help win school funds for a website upgrade.

Nashville: At Vanderbilt University, it’s not the administration but Vanderbilt Student Communications that owns and proposes to sell student-run WRVU-FM, 90.1 MHz, hoping to get $3.5 million to $5 million to invest in an endowment for student media. WRVU would continue to operate online. The nonprofit owner of WRVU, the student newspaper and other campus media, is run by a nine-member board that includes six students. The group’s FAQ says that shrinking numbers of students listen to broadcast radio.

Also in Nashville: On Feb. 18, Trevecca Nazarene University’s contemporary Christian music station WNAZ, 89.1 MHz, gave way to WECV, a Christian talk station operated by the buyer, Community Radio Inc., the nonprofit branch of Bott Radio Network of Kansas City. A repeater in Dickson, Tenn., and two translators also were sold.

Mobile, Ala.: On March 21, the University of Alabama approved purchase of WHIL-FM in Mobile, expanding the university’s Alabama Public Radio net. Spring Hill College sold the station for $1.1 million after operating it for 30 years. The buyer will provide a classical/news schedule similar to WHIL’s. [WHIL posted this notice to listeners.]

San Francisco: Student station KUSF-FM went online-only in January when the University of San Francisco sold its frequency, 90.3 MHz, to the city’s classical radio station KDFC in a complex multistation deal. Los Angeles pubradio powerhouse KUSC bought two Bay Area frequencies when it acquired KDFC from Entercom Communications. Entercom exited the classical format, making off with KDFC’s former channel.


One Response

  1. I’m betting that Thunder has a slim chance in Hell that the FCC will do anything about the translator for their HD2, because it involves a Clear Channel HD2. The shit of it is that Arbitron will give credit to the HD2, not the translator, so we can expect eventual spin from Struble. Of course, this has nothing to do with the “success” of HD Radio. What a great way for Big Group Radio to cheat through HD Radio.

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