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<nettime> Over 1,000 March Against National Association of Broadcasters (USA)

                     Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
                Media analysis, critiques and news reports


Corporate Media Ignore Demonstrations Against Corporate Media

September 26, 2000

>From September 21 - 23, media activists from across the country converged
San Francisco for a historic protest at the annual radio convention of the
National Association of Broadcasters' (NAB), culminating in a march and
rally on September 23 attended by well over 1,000 people.

FAIR endorsed and played an active role in the demonstrations, as did a
broad slate of media, labor and human rights groups; the San Francisco-based
Media Alliance was one of the key organizers.

Activists gathered to spotlight the undemocratic activities of the NAB,
which is the principal lobbying and membership organization of the broadcast
industry and one of the most powerful interests in Washington. According to
the Center for Public Integrity, the NAB has spent $16.9 million since 1996
on pressuring lawmakers to assure corporate control of the airwaves.

It's thanks in large part to the NAB that telecommunications deregulation
has proceeded with such dizzying speed in recent years. The NAB has also
worked diligently to block pro-democracy measures like low power radio and
campaign finance reform.

Nine activists were arrested during the protests, including Steve Rendall,
FAIR's senior analyst and co-host of CounterSpin. In addition, three
National Lawyers Guild (NLG) representatives were arrested while negotiating
with police for access to their clients, the imprisoned activists.

On Friday, September 22, about a hundred people rallied peacefully at the
main entrance to the Moscone Center, where the NAB convention was being
held. Activists used creative theatre and chants-- such as "NAB, FCC,
K-I-S-S-I-N-G"-- to dramatize their concerns, and offered fliers to
convention delegates. Four activists locked themselves together in front of
the building and were arrested.

Meanwhile, two activists gained access to the convention and disrupted the
NAB's Congressional Breakfast by grabbing the microphone from NAB President
Edward O. Fritts. They were not arrested, but security dragged them from the
room and placed their hands over the activists' mouths to prevent them from
voicing their concerns about the NAB's disruption of free speech.

After the rally, the group began a march to the headquarters of KYLD (94.9
FM), a station owned by Clear Channel, the largest radio company in the
country. En route to the radio station, police ordered the marchers to leave
the street and stand only on the sidewalk. As marchers attempted to comply,
police became confrontational, attacking one man (later arrested) and
arresting two others, including Rendall, who was arrested while following
police instructions to return to the curb.

Ironically, KYLD's response to the arrival of people protesting Clear
Channel's abuse of the public airwaves was to send two members of the
station's morning show crew out to abuse the public directly. The two men
attempted to initiate a physical fight, verbally abusing and shoving
protesters. Police did not attempt to discourage the KYLD crew's aggression,
though they did arrest two more activists when the marchers began to
voluntarily disperse.

Arrestees spent between nine and 16 hours in jail before being released. All
charges have been dropped against the nine activists, but at this writing
the three NLG lawyers arrested while attempting to gain access to their
clients still face misdemeanor battery charges for allegedly hitting or
touching a police officer. One police spokesperson told the San Francisco
Chronicle (9/23/00) that the three had been denied access to the jail
because they had been "marching with the demonstration and voicing their
opinion," and were therefore protesters, not lawyers. (NLG representatives
routinely accompany demonstrations as legal observers.)

Saturday's events-- at which there were no arrests-- drew well over a
thousand participants and included an energetic rally at San Francisco's
U.N. Plaza, a march to Union Square and an impromptu demonstration in front
of a hotel where many NAB delegates were staying. Featured speakers included
Jello Biafra, Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman, Kevin Danaher of Global Exchange
and FAIR's Steve Rendall. The satirical "Billionaires for More Media
Mergers" staged a mock counter-protest, urging citizens to "Stay on your
couches and off the streets!" and stating that six controlling media
corporations are four too many, advocating instead for a "more efficient"
duopoly on the Coke/Pepsi model.

Also on Saturday, a coalition of media activists and public radio listeners
attended a National Public Radio (NPR) board meeting to rebuke NPR for its
relentless lobbying against low power radio. Low power radio advocates held
a press conference to initiate an "un-pledge drive," in which they called on
public radio listeners to withhold their pledges until NPR reverses its
opposition to low power FM service. "We're sorry that it had to come to
this," says Peter Franck of the NLG Center for Democratic Communications,
but NPR "must be stopped before they destroy America's best chance in twenty
years for neighborhood radio."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the corporate media have responded to protests
against their own power with a news blackout. The NAB protests received no
mainstream press or broadcast coverage outside the Bay Area, and precious
little press attention even locally. As one sign at the demonstrations
proclaimed, "The television will not be revolutionized"-- at least, not if
the corporate media represented by the NAB get their way. But activists
seemed undiscouraged; one popular chant was "NAB, we won't rest, till you
broadcast our protest."

Want to give the NAB a piece of your mind? Check out FAIR's open letter:

For more information, see FAIR's NAB resources:

For non-corporate coverage of the protests, visit the San Francisco
Independent Media Center: http://www.sf.indymedia.org

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