Bill Press: 'Fairness Doctrine' Will Remedy 'Conservative Media Conspiracy'
There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine -- and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.In the February 8 piece, “Another Right-Wing Conspiracy in Washington?”, Press lamented that while the owner of WWRC, dubbed “Obama 1260" by owner Red Zebra, “will add Ed Schultz to its conservative lineup on 570 AM,” he'll be “outgunned in this market by at least 15 conservative talkers.”
He proceeded to list them without, however, acknowledging that the DC market has a far-left Pacifica station as well as two stations which air NPR talk shows: “Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Chris Plante, Michael Smerconish, Michael Savage, Andy Parks, Fred Grandy, Bill Bennett, Monica Crowley, Bill O'Reilly, Dennis Miller and Lars Larsen. No matter how good Schultz is, that's not a fair contest -- nor a fair use of the public airwaves.”
But many of those conservative hosts are hardly pulling in great ratings in the DC market either, though more listeners than the station which aired Press, so maybe DC just isn't a very good market for talk radio and thus switching to a low-cost financial news format, as WWRC will do on Monday, makes business sense. Last Monday, on his DCRTV.com blog, Dave Hughes noted:
The last PPM numbers it had when it ranked showed WWRC in 35th place full-day, age 12+. Red Zebra's co-owned righty talker, WTNT, while it may have seen its ratings rise a bit of late, still ranked 32nd overall in the latest ratings round-up. WTNT's Bill Bennett morning show was its highest-rated at 25th place. Even at the market's dominant righty radio talker, Citadel's WMAL, things are not good. It placed 16th in the latest PPMs, with middayer Rush Limbaugh in 12th.[UPDATE: The Radio Equalizer offers a detailed dissection of the fallacies in the Press op-ed.]