Accuracy in Media

According to a new report issued by the liberal center for American Progress titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio” conservatives unfairly dominate the airwaves.

 Here are some of their findings:

? Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive. 

? Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk?10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

? A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.

The report goes on to say that while the most cited reasons for the gap are the 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine and consumer demand, that neither of these reasons adequately explains why conservatives dominate the airwaves.

The researchers conclude that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.

This report reminds me of a similar analysis done by the liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) conducted in the late 80’s when the concluded that ABC ‘s Nightline program was conservatively biased after they counted the number of words spoken by guests on the program. They counted Alexander Haig and Henry Kissinger in the conservative column which tipped the scales to the right.

In this case no such word counting was necessary because it is obvious to any listener to talk radio that the conservatives dominate, but not for the reasons the report states.

Conservative talk show domination has nothing to do with relaxed ownership rules or any breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcasting, but is simply the free market at work. Give the people what they want.

An example of this would be the Air America radio network. Launched with great fanfare and liberal dollars the network failed to gain enough listeners to support their operations and went bankrupt. A few hosts from the network have survived and thrived, but most of the hosts just didn’t catch on with the audience. Other liberals who have tried and failed in this area are Jesse Jackson and Mario Cuomo.

Contrast that with conservative talkers like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity who are heard on hundreds of stations nationwide and attract 10-20 million listeners a week. Even the most liberal station owner can’t afford to pass up that size audience and the advertising revenue they generate. The largest station in Washington, DC until a year ago was owned by the Walt Disney Company, a company that extends health benefits to partners of gay employees. That isn’t exactly a position that Limbaugh or Hannity would support.

This report is just another attempt by whiny liberals calling themselves progressives to try and justify why they have failed so miserably on talk radio. Their answer then is to re-regulate the airwwaves to bring “balance” back and by doing so impose a type of TitleIX litmus test under the guise of the Fairness Doctrine to ensure compliance. And we know what TitleIX did to men’s college sports programs.

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