NAB Coming to Philly

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) will be coming to Philadelphia for their national Radio Show Wednesday, September 21st to Friday, September 23rd. The Philadelphia IMC and other progressive activist groups who fight for community media and citizen journalism hope to take this opportunity to raise awareness about the effects of this powerful organization.

NAB is a lobbying arm, representing over 6,600 corporate radio and television stations that broadcast throughout the country. In the hands of the broadcasters, station managers and owners that comprise NAB lays one of the most precious public trusts, our airwaves. These same airwaves allow us to watch television, listen to the radio and ultimately communicate with one another. The problem is that NAB doesn’t want free flowing communication. Freedom of information and expression leads to individual thinking, questioning the system, and the creation of dialog- all things that threaten the dominant corporate media structure.
As a lobbying organization, NAB is one of the most powerful in Washington, using money, as well as access to the airwaves to affect public policy. One example of a public issue NAB has used its power to effect are the laws governing Low-Power radio. These small, local stations are means for communities to engage in dialog about issues affecting the small area the station covers. NAB and National Public Radio have lobbied against the right of these community stations to broadcast, because, they argue, the low-power signal will interfere with their large, powerful signal. The real issue however, is that low power radio provides an alternative for people and communities, which might mean less listeners (and hence, less money) for the corporate media system.
This is a vital issue, because without local, independent owners of media outlets, it is less likely that our communities needs will be met and respected. Large corporations that control the broadcast industry need to be held accountable to the local communities in which they serve and broadcast licensing law must protect our right to local media.
Another issue in which NAB is attempting to affect public policy in the favor of corporate broadcasting, to the detriment to our democracy, is media consolidation. In 2003 after heavy lobbying from NAB, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) decided to relax many of the regulations that kept the media from further consolidation allowing the same company to own a greater share of TV and print in a single regional market. These changes would have allowed major media companies to become even larger, furthering their control over the media we see, hear, and absorb each day. This change came on the heels of the changes to Radio consolidation, which NAB lobbied for, and ultimately allowed Clear Channel to grow from 40 radio stations to over 1,200 throughout the country.
Even though the rule changes were eventually struck down in a court of appeals, NAB has not stopped lobbying for media deregulation . Here are a few reasons why the public should care about NAB and further consolidation in the broadcast industry. Democracy depends of an educated, informed society that is able to make sound decisions. Civic engagement depends on an informed citizenry. With further deregulation we receive limited views on important issues, and those views may not reveal the whole truth and alternatives may go unheard. This is best illustrated by the important stories that receive inadequate coverage, such as the current destruction of our environment, political corruption at the hands of those in power and social injustices happening here in America and around the world.
As NAB holds their annual Radio Road Show, please take into consideration the effects that these companies are having on our local media landscape. How often have you heard serious debate and dialog on the radio or TV? There is a local election coming up in November, have you heard anything about the candidates? Local, independent media, like the Philly IMC, are here to provide alternatives to the corporate media system that suppresses free thought and ignores its duty to provide accurate, well-researched news and information.


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