FCC’s localism road show premieres in Charlotte, N.C.

Republican FCC chairman Michael Powell and his two Democratic adversaries on the commission got a full dose of public opinion last week during the first of several planned public hearings on media public service and localism.

Several hundred people attended the three-hour hearing on Oct. 22 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. Powell listened along with commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps to a litany of complaints ranging from the inability of local talent to get airplay to radio stunts urging listeners to run over bicyclists. About three dozen people spoke.

Powell said that the FCC’s inquiry would focus on media performance in the Carolinas and elsewhere “including potentially not renewing a broadcast license for not serving the public interest ... We want to spread the word that these renewals are not just an inside-the-beltway phenomenon.”

A musical performer complained about being frozen off the air by corporate radio stations. When Adelstein reminded her that “payola” is illegal, the singer responded: “It’s absolutely naive to assume that pay-for-play doesn’t go on.”

It was noted that only one commercial Charlotte TV station currently airs a local public affairs program—a 30-minute roundtable Sunday nights on WJZY (Channel 46), owned by Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting. “All politics is local, but you wouldn’t know it by watching local TV,” said one participant.

For more information on the FCC’s localism initiative, visit: www.fcc.gov/localism.

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