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May 30, 2005

Dissent as Consumerism

A new rebel radio station is appearing in Akron, Ohio.

Deemed "Radio Free Ohio", it's luring new listeners by denouncing the "corporate-controlled music playlists" of stations owned by companies like the megacorporation Clear Channel.

And who owns Radio Free Ohio?

Clear Channel.

Yeah, we want alternative media, but sometimes I'm more comfortable reading rightwing sources and filtering the bias myself -- I read The Economist religiously and know to turn their denunciations of "populist" economics in developing nations into a signal of progressive innovation.

When the media supposedly speaks for the left, you have to wonder who is paying the bills. Maybe leftwing subscriber radio or television might escape this dilemma, but as long as advertisers are paying the bills, I'm deeply suspicious of the ultimate agenda of any media source beyond making money. Even if the programmers are pure ideologically, they will inevitably engage in self-censorship if they push towards issues that offend the underwriters too much.

In a world where the left and moderate center can unite in Bush-bashing, Air America for example has probably not pushed over that point yet, so it may not matter in the short-term. But in the longer term, any "alternative media" needs a financial base independent of corporate advertisers (or the government in the case of NPR or PBS) paying the bills. Notably, even on "hip" MTV, a mildly anti-Bush message is too radical for the station.

Posted by Nathan at May 30, 2005 05:10 AM