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View Diary: Compelling: Ohio recount: Stealing votes in Columbus-- INVESTIGATE DAMSCHRODER (166 comments)

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  •  Re: Media Lockdown: Ohio, USA (none)
    For those perplexed why the dismantling of American democracy doesn't make the television news, I unburden myself of evidence suggesting that more than editorial judgment controls what the people get to see.

    Earlier this year I was jolted by a passage in an e-mail authored by Michael Fiorile, the CEO of Dispatch Broadcast Group, Columbus, Ohio.  The passage occurs in an exchange of messages between Mr. Fiorile and a member of the Board of Directors of Dispatch Communications, the parent company, and was floated my direction by that board member so I could appreciate certain hurdles to progress.

    Mr. Fiorile's point can't be paraphrased:

    > Oh and one more point....the regulators of our industry, who need access to
    > their constituents on an equal and most favored basis will ALWAYS look to
    > maintain their base of communication. They have a long history of looking
    > after their own interests. As it turns out, their interests often is the
    > same interests of localism. This has served us well and should continue to.

    Mr. Fiorile was Chair of the Television Board of the National Association of Broadcasters when he wrote this passage.

    •  This is fascinating. (none)
      Can you give a little more background re: how you came by this email-- that is, is there someone from "inside" who is sympathetic and passing you stuff like this-- and also, what the context/background is on Fiorile's reference to "the regulators of our industry" and "the interests of localism"?
      •  No, it's not fascinating. (none)
        It is deeply disturbing.

        The context: explaining why Dispatch should not shift its investment away from traditional broadcast operations and toward emerging wireless distribution systems.

        Background: Over-the-air broadcast accounts for only 15-20% of terrestrial broadcaster's audience. The remainder derives from the grandfathered "must-carry" rule that requires other carriers like cable to carry local channels. The value of a broadcast license is almost entirely in this artificial privilege, and not in the spectrum, which has much more valuable uses. "Localism" is the battlecry for the political protection of that privilege before the FCC and congress. It's a laughable charade.

        Source: It was explicitly directed to my attention by the board member who is the other participant in the conversation. I was trying to get him to join the board of an enterprise; he was trying to get Dispatch to send high-level representation to a meeting about that enterprise.

        •  charade (none)
          Disclosure:
          I'm an engineering peon at a local affiliate in a small market.

          The localism issue isn't entirely bogus.  Our station is the only one available locally that has a local news staff.  If we didn't have local news, the next closest thing would be "local news" piped in from about a four hour drive away.  If the local cable co didn't have to carry us, it would be the same situation for 80-85% of the local viewership who don't watch over the air.

          I'm sure the localism issue gets perverted in all sorts of ways, but there is some validity there.

          BTW Our local news generally sucks, but at least the reporters are really here and could break real local news if needed.  

        •  Well, you're an insider (none)
          and it may not seem fascinating anymore to you-- but to me, finding out a little about the workings of the business you're in is indeed fascinating.  Thank you for explaining.

          Yes, it's deeply disturbing.  And what I think I'm realizing is that there are so many hurdles or obstacles to getting issues like this onto broadcast news and journalism, obstacles that will never be made plain or talked about to laypeople such as myself, because they have to do with the arcana and rules and professional codes of the business of broadcasting-- the plumbing and wires of the thing-- and not with the facade/icing/endproduct that ends up projected over tv screens or on webpages...

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