From Radio Ink, with the truth of the matter noted between the lines:
NAB: Cross-Ownership Ban Was ‘No Longer Justified’ Translation: How are we supposed to consolidate and cut our way out of financial trouble unless you let us consolidate and cut?
WASHINGTON — December 18, 2007: NAB EVP Dannis Wharton said Tuesday the organization is “pleased the FCC has adopted a revised newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule, recognizing that a 30-year-old complete ban is no longer justified.” Wharton said the change is “modest” but “an important step forward in aligning broadcasting regulations with the realities of today’s communications marketplace.”
Translation: If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em. And if nobody can successfully compete separately at least lets all not successfully compete together. Because after all, in five years we’re outta here. At least this way we can earn some steep fees from wrapping up newspapers and radio stations in a snug little sub-competitive package before we go. The FCC also reached some tentative conclusions and asked for public comment Tuesday on broadcast localism, including proposals that broadcasters meet with local groups to discuss community issues and on the nature and amount of community content and political programming.
Translation: We will make symbolic efforts to shut you up, community activists. We will specifically mandate programs that nobody wants to hear so as to prove we care about what you want to hear.
Wharton said, “We will also be reviewing closely the FCC’s ‘localism’ proposal, a proceeding that carries grave First Amendment implications and which stems from a false notion that radio and television stations have abandoned our commitment to serving communities or have stopped offering distinctive local programming.”
Translation: Don’t make us laugh, American public. You and your puny interests.
Wharton cited broadcasters’ efforts with emergency coverage, Amber Alerts, and in other areas, and said, “We are confident that any truly objective localism analysis will vindicate the performance of radio and TV broadcasters and overshadow the shrill voices of those who would regulate broadcasters back to the 1960s.”
Translation: You’re wrong, America. You’re not even a little bit right. Somehow we actually think we can clear up the confusion and convince you you’re off-base! And no, we’re not kidding. Yeah, the big get bigger, but you know the old saying: When you eat like an elephant, you shit like an elephant.
Look, my major issue with all this isn’t simply that it would lead to more consolidation (many of the NAB’s arguments are quite correct, I think), but that it will lead to denial of the real issues facing broadcasting’s future and the real antidote to those issues.
And that antidote is not “consolidate and cut.”