We all know what this really means: Critics worry that television could become like Rush Limbaugh. Deregulation in 1996 allowed companies to amass hundreds of stations and cut costs by replacing local shows with national programming. The radio industry was dying, and there was a proper amount of consolidation permitted, and many think that restored health to the radio industry, but it wasn’t consolidation that saved radio. It had nothing to do with who owned what, ladies and gentlemen. It was content that saved radio and the Democrats cannot even admit that. They are afraid that if consolidation happens in TV, everything is going to end up like the Fox News Channel, just like they think all of radio ended up as me and Limbaugh wannabes.
This is where the Democrats continually miss the boat. Do people listen to radio stations because of who owns them? They don’t. People are going to watch TV or listen to radio based on what’s on it, not on who owns it, but the Democrats cannot get that through their head. They think if they can get the right group of owners, or shut out certain owners, then certain programming will be shut out. They are so out of the realm of reality here, my friends, they do not know what hit them. It started about 15 years ago, and they’re nowhere near figuring it out.
In the audio link below, you can hear FCC Chairman Michael Powell make a key point during an interview with Lou Dobbs on CNN. Powell’s point is that all of this is aimed at popularity. These companies in the crosshairs own 25% of the channels out there, but those channels happen to represent 80% of the most watched channels. They’re the most popular, and because of this, people are out there charging monopoly. Powell has nailed it. There’s a bunch of stuff out there that’s popular (conservatives) that certain people (liberals) don’t like and, since they can’t beat that popularity in the market, they’ll go after the owners and try to break it up and give it to other people. It’s like the Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine was not about fairness. The Fairness Doctrine was about making sure that nobody you want to hear got a radio show.
What do we do in the radio business? We try to charge the highest advertiser rates we can, by acquiring the largest audience we can get and then holding that audience for as long as we can hold them, guaranteeing sponsors that their spots are going to be heard and reacted to by a loyal audience. This stuff just doesn’t happen by dictate or by fiat. It’s like anything else; it has to be earned. Who owns the program or station on which I broadcast doesn’t matter to you, and it hasn’t changed this program one iota. It doesn’t matter.
I’ve had something to do with it, but you are the main reason this program is what it is, not the ownership of radio stations, not the ownership of syndication companies, not the ownership of satellites, not the ownership of phone lines, nothing at all like that has had anything to do with it. That’s just the vehicle whereby we get to take our chance at things. The American people decide what networks are most popular. The American people decide what TV and radio programs are most popular, and they don’t care a whit who owns them!
How many radio stations are there in this country? 12,000. How many channels are there on cable or DirecTV? There are over 200. To say that somebody is being denied their chance to be heard or seen or that ownership is freezing people out when you have something like The Food Network on the air! Good Lord.