FDL Movie Night: Broadcast Blues
Tonight’s guest Sue Wilson is a firebrand – smart, driven and articulate. A longtime journalist, she got fired up about how the public airways, which belong to the citizens, are controlled by mega-corps which do not act in the public interest. Broadcast Blues, which she wrote, directed and narrates traces the history of the airwaves, the gutting of the Fairness Doctrine, and explains how the consolidation of stations has limited Americans access to a wide range of voices and views—and has actually put citizens at physical risk during emergencies.
As I write this I am watching a cable infomerical from the National Rifle Association, a pitch to join and “stand with the NRA,” essentially a half-hour long anti-Obama election message, gussied up with fear-mongering against the United Nations and footage of the London riots. In Broadcast Blues Wilson demonstrates that now the airwaves belong to those who can pay for them, and with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, there is no requirement for broadcasters to present opposing views.
Broadcast Blues lays out how we got to this point of corporate monopolies in news, how it affects the information we hear and see, and what we can do about it. How can we ensure that the news informs rather than deforms our opinions? Why isn’t the FCC more responsive to citizens’ complaints, unless they have to do with the F-word or wardrobe malfunction? These questions and many more about the ineffectiveness of the FCC come to light as Wilson goes head to head with the agency under the Freedom of Information Act.
Since the film has been made, Sue Wilson has been doing plenty to stir things up—and she’ll be filling us in on her efforts and what we can do to return to the airwaves to us.