By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
After the final curtain call, Emily Greer was mobbed with hugs: “You’re not Winona anymore!” one girl exclaimed, and Greer looked a little sad. She said that she was disappointed that Ryder hadn’t shown up. “I wanted her to, and I guess I actually thought she would.”
Sally Foster, 17, who played Cameron Diaz, was the only cast member who said she was glad Ryder didn’t come. “It would have been tense. Everybody would have been looking at her and not at us.” She giggled, interrupted by a boy who flicked her stiff, vertical, Something About Mary–inspired forelock. “It would have been good publicity, but I’d rather have fun.”
Protest This!: FCC’s Communications Breakdown
The rally was super heartfelt, but the chants kinda sucked. “Free communication! Not conglomeration!” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! Media conglomerates have got to go!” don’t exactly trip off the tongue. Fuck it. Last Thursday’s hastily planned rally in Koreatown against FCC media deregulation — one of many held across the country — marked the humble beginning of a new era in American activism. Four days before the FCC would bow to corporate conglomerates and vote to dismantle various media-ownership laws, it was clear that all kinds of activists are finally rallying around the issues of media consolidation — that is, who is going to control popular culture and political debate?
In Washington, groups ranging from the NRA to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have joined to oppose deregulation. Locally, trade unionists, music fans, news junkies and plain old citizens stepped out for Thursday’s protest. In fact, this small rally, held outside the
K-town offices of KFI (owned by radio blob Clear Channel Communications), was
a kind of birthing party for a movement that could only have happened in the digital age.
“Whose airwaves? Our airwaves!” the crowd of about 60 chanted, standing on the sidewalk on Ardmore Avenue, squinting against the afternoon sunlight. Signs and banners read: “Why Does the FCC Want You Uninformed?,” “Clear Channel Is Bush League,” “FCC: Fascist Corporate Control.” (Aw, nuts. Why do lefties always gotta bring out the fascist stuff?) Someone with a sense of humor hung a large paper banner precariously across the front of the building that read, “Give the Airwaves to the Rich.” Female members of rally organizer Code Pink, the activist group that sprang up in opposition to the Iraqi war, wore scraps of lingerie dyed various shades of fuchsia. The crowd, comprised of college-age kids to grandmothers, was small but hardly embarrassingly so. Everyone, it seemed, had a private reason for coming.
There was Cassandra Dawn, 24, an inner-city schoolteacher in a jeans skirt and sunglasses, who was on her third day of a hunger strike against the FCC. “This is what I live for,” she said, clutching a bottle of water to her breast. “George Washington said, ‘If there is no free press, then dumb and silent we might be led like lambs to the slaughter.’” Dawn had held a protest outside the CNN building Tuesday and took the opportunity to talk to passersby about the issue. “Everybody who walks by cares. Every single last person. They find it very, very disturbing that they don’t know about what’s going on.”
The new rules will enable a broadcaster to reach 45 percent of the TV market (up from 35 percent), and also own a newspaper in the same town. That bothers George Shea, 62, a marketing guy who took off work for the rally. “Just look at the ownership of the L.A. Timessince it was purchased by the Chicago Tribune. It’s becoming more and more of a Republican newspaper.”
Vicki Di Paolo works for the Communication Workers of America: “I represent reporters at the Daily Newsand the
Press-Telegramin Long Beach. And this is really going to affect journalists — as soon as a newspaper is bought by a TV station they’re going to consolidate, and there go jobs.”
Employees of Clear Channel, the company that ate radio under similar deregulation, stood around the station’s entrance gate, ogling, but wouldn’t talk. “I wish I could be your unnamed source,” said one. “If we weren’t here, I could talk to you.” Someone pointed to a video surveillance camera trained right on us.
Speakers like L.A. Weeklyfounder Jay Levin, however, pointed out the canary-in-the-coal-mine nature of Clear Channel’s effect on radio. Levin called Clear Channel “the poster child of bad media ‰ conglomeration,” and addressed the decay of local news in the megamedia age: “L.A. is the poverty and hunger capital of the United States. According to the Health Department, 1.3 million people in Los Angeles County don’t know where their food is coming from on any given day. Do we hear these things on KFI or local TV networks?
“Thomas Jefferson said if he had a choice between free elections and a free press, he would have to choose a free press.”