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 V.16 No.40 | October 4 - 10, 2007 

Thin Line

The End of an Era?

The days of hazardous radio consolidation could be coming to a close.

Clear Channel Communications shareholders approved a $19.5 billion buyout of the company on Tuesday, Sept. 25, landing the media conglomerate in the hands of a private equity group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners. The sale comes after 10 months of price haggling, raising the group’s initial offer of $37.60 a share to $39.20. Shareholders may end up with 30 percent of the soon-to-be private company.

Whether the sale is good or bad for the American public remains to be seen. But some media critics say the sale is a boon and could signal the end of the radio consolidation era. After all, in anticipation of the impending sale, Clear Channel has already let go of its 56 television stations and made deals to sell more than 350 radio stations, since the buyers aren’t interested in smaller markets. This is a good thing—allowing those discarded stations to be potentially bought by smaller, more independent entities who could offer a larger diversity of voices.

Let’s hope that’s the case. In the meantime, the deal is expected to close by the end of the year, pending antitrust clearances and approval by the Federal Communications Commission.

“Black and White and Re(a)d All Over”

Ever wondered whether there really is balance in newspapers—or, rather, how little balance there is? MediaMatters.org wondered, too, and turned to the nation’s op-ed pages to find out. After calling nearly every daily in the country (which is a remarkable feat in itself), what it discovered is when it comes to space for progressive and conservative views, our media is lopsided.

According to a report on the online nonprofit’s findings, “Black and White and Re(a)d All Over: The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-Ed Columns,” 60 percent of the nation’s dailies print more conservative syndicated columns than progressive. In 38 states, the conservative voice is greater than the progressive voice, while only 12 states are the other way around. And that trend holds true within three of the four broad regions of the country—the West, the South and the Midwest—leaving only the Northeast with a more progressive voice.

Why does it matter? Because no matter how much technology may be changing, the vast majority of people still get their information from newspapers, online or otherwise. Syndicated columns reach tens (sometimes hundreds) of millions of readers. And, as Media Matters claims, “Syndicated newspaper columnists have a unique ability to influence public opinion and the national debate.”

So should anything change? Should we take an affirmative action stance in the world of op-eds, giving advantage to those in the minority? I don’t know. But it’s something to think about.

 
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