Corporate Power/Consolidation

Save the News campaign event energizes Denver

Gavin Dahl, Reclaim the Media

Over 200 people gathered in downtown Denver for a Save the News event organized by Kim Humphreys of I Want My Rocky and Josh Stearns and Craig Aaron of Free Press Wednesday night Sept 16. Stearns stated "a vital part of the news ecosystem" was lost 6 months ago when Rocky Mountain News was closed by the E. W. Scripps corporation. Three months prior to the Feb 27 final edition Humphreys found out her employer was being put up for sale. She had the idea to organize because, as the site says, "Without watchdogs, our democracy won't work. As journalists, we can't be objective about our own existence."

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Latinos to CNN: Dump Dobbs now

Roberto Lovato, Huffington Post

This week, Lou Dobbs is broadcasting his radio show from a national lobbying conference sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization founded by a white nationalist and designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. At a time when studies document the growing link between anti-immigrant hate speech and increased violence against Latinos, Dobbs' appearance at FAIR generates especially profound concerns among those targeted by his almost daily attacks: immigrants and Latinos.

For years, Dobbs and CNN banked on the fact that many of the Latinos who bear the brunt of his systematic media assaults--Spanish-speaking immigrants--were unaware of the threat that Dobbs posed. But all of that is changing; Latinos are increasingly making the connection between racism in the media and discrimination in their hometowns, and coming to a simple, yet historic conclusion: Lou Dobbs is the Most Dangerous Man for Latinos in America. That's why Presente.org is joining with Latino organizations throughout the United States demanding that CNN get rid of Dobbs. And we are not alone. In the coming weeks, CNN President Jon Klein will be inundated by a growing national chorus of calls to stop promoting Dobbs' brand of "news."

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Michael Moore: "Capitalism killed the newspaper"

Mark Medley, National Post

Michael Moore gave his "two cents" on the state of the daily newspaper at Monday morning's press conference for his latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story. Moore revealed an earlier cut of the film explored the hard times facing the industry, but ultimately decided the issue was too large to fit into the film, adding it may warrant a film of its own down the road.

"If you want to give me 90 seconds," he told the press, "I'll give you my two cents about why I think a year from now, or two years from now, we're not going to have daily newspapers, and that we're in the last year of reading the daily newspaper. And for those of you who are from daily newspapers, I thought about, before I came here, I though this the last time I'm going to talk to some of these papers, which is kind of a sad feeling - that I won't see you again unless you're on the Internet after this. This is it. So, do you want to hear that?"

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Guess what texting costs your cell phone provider?

Eric Bender, Time

When my teenage son ignores me while tapping away furiously on his cell phone, I have the consolation of knowing that he has joined the quickest-growing form of two-way communication in human history.

A decade ago, just about no one in the U.S. sent these messages, known as Short Message Service (SMS) texts. This year, we will zing out 1.2 trillion of them, predicts market-intelligence firm IDC.

That translates to a barrage of messages from each user, especially teens, who seem to be receiving new text messages — a.k.a. "blowing up" — more than they take new breaths. The average U.S. mobile teen now sends or receives an average of 2,899 text messages per month, according to Nielsen Mobile. "With teens, the act of picking up a phone and calling someone is dropping away," notes Christopher Collins, a senior analyst with Yankee Group.

What's most amazing about the texting craze is just how inexpensive it is for mobile carriers to provide this wildly popular service. SMS messages are not only extremely short (maxing out at 160 characters), but they also cleverly exploit today's digital phone networks, leveraging transmission channels between phone and cell tower that were originally designed to coordinate voice calls. "They cost the mobile carriers so little that you could argue that they're free," says Collins.

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Cable firms want California to tax Satellite TV

Marc Lifsher, LA Times

Reporting from Sacramento - In the long-running battle between cable television and satellite, the cable TV industry is quietly trying to persuade the Legislature to levy a tax on its competitors.

With just six days left in the legislative session, cable advocates in Sacramento want lawmakers to slap a new 5% tax on satellite service to match the 5% franchise fee that cable companies pay to string or bury their wires across public property and into homes.

Cable companies argue that it's matter of fairness. They say it is not right for them to pay a fee, while fast-growing satellite providers -- DirecTV and Dish Network -- don't have to pay anything for the right to beam their signals into people's homes from space.

Satellite companies disagree, saying such a tax discriminates against their 3.6 million customers in California, especially rural residents living in remote areas not served by cable. Satellite providers shouldn't be penalized with a tax because they use innovative technology and don't have to dig up the streets or people's backyards, DirecTV says.

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Appeals court strikes down caps on cable companies' size

Frank Ahrens, Washington Post

Comcast, the nation's largest cable television provider, can grow bigger if it wants to after a federal court decision Friday that tossed out a rule preventing cable companies from controlling more than 30 percent of the U.S. market.

The rule, set by the Federal Communications Commission in 1993, has been in legal challenge nearly since its inception, with cable companies arguing that it was unconstitutional and the FCC and some consumer advocates saying it was necessary to prevent one company from controlling the market and gouging consumers. The FCC imposed the cap after Congress passed the 1992 Cable Act, which said the agency must set "reasonable limits" on the number of customers a cable company can have.

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Tribune boss Zell on way out

David Roeder, Chicago Sun Times

Sam Zell's days as a media titan in Chicago are nearly over.

The motorcycle-riding billionaire, renowned for his deft touch with real estate and corporate turnarounds, took Tribune Co. private in late 2007 promising to energize the lumbering company. He piled on debt at exactly the wrong time, and a collapse in advertising for traditional media forced him to take the company to Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Eight months after the filing, two sources familiar with the process said creditors are working on a reorganization plan that elbows Zell aside. The creditors, including investment banks owed $8.6 billion from Zell's Tribune takeover, would stage a takeover of their own and sell off the company's newspapers and broadcast stations as they see fit.

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Rupert Murdoch: Protector of the printed word?

James Robinson, The Guardian

Rupert Murdoch is the wizard of Oz. The 78-year-old has spent a lifetime building the world's most powerful media group, transforming a single antipodean newspaper into an empire that transcends national boundaries. Like his literary equivalent, his power is real, and prime ministers and presidents often seem mesmerised by its potency. But while his newspapers and television holdings give him undoubted influence, his status is magnified many times by the Murdoch myth. He has been a figure on the world stage for so long that his reputation alone is sometimes enough to inhibit the actions of others, whether in the Square Mile, Whitehall or Washington. His views on Europe or on the free market are familiar enough to policy-makers and opinion-formers, so he sometimes finds himself in the happy position of receiving favours without even having to ask for them.

It is a unique arrangement which Murdoch skilfully exploits, but it depends in large part on his continued ability to keep on controlling the news and to make huge amounts of money in the process. Last week, for perhaps the first time, Murdoch came close to admitting that he may not be able to continue doing so unless he radically transforms his business and in the process revolutionises the industry that has made him so powerful.

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Former Adelstein aid leaves FCC for Comcast

[Comcast press release:] Comcast announced today two new senior hires in its Federal Government Affairs office in Washington, DC. Joe Trahern has joined the company as Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs, and effective July 27, Rudy Brioche joins the company as Senior Director of External Affairs and Public Policy Counsel. Trahern will serve as one of Comcast's senior lobbyists focused on Congress and the Administration, and Brioche will focus on the development of the company's public policy positions and legislative analysis.

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Sinclair Broadcasting may be headed to bankruptcy

Price Colman, TVNewsday

RTM note: Sinclair Broadcasting is the largest owner of TV stations in the US. In 2004, the company was broadly criticized after Sinclair management ordered its eight ABC affiliates not to air an episode of Nightline on the Iraq war, saying that "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."

Sinclair Broadcast Group spelled out Tuesday just how close it is to bankruptcy.

It faces debt covenant violations, sagging revenues and cash flow that may make it impossible to service that debt, and what could be contentious negotiations with ABC over its affiliation agreement, which expires at year end.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey