The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 December 2004

That mean ol' Fox

The Oklahoma Gazette's Preston Jones is sorely vexed this week by the announcement (on the 6th) that Clear Channel has signed Fox News to produce national radio newscasts. The prospects are harrowing:

The ramifications of what Clear Channel and Fox News Channel are engaging in speaks volumes about the state of information flow in America and doesn't bode well for that most often-trampled privilege: freedom of the press. Now not only will the music you hear be neutered; the news you're hearing may not necessarily be the whole story, either.

Well, okay, if you say so, but try as I may, I can't much get worked up over this Beelzebub/Moloch joint venture. For one thing, it's going to displace, in this market at least, exactly one provider of news. KTOK, Clear Channel's primary news/talk outlet here, will presumably give up its ABC affiliation; rival KOKC, owned by Renda, has recently switched from CBS to ABC. (I have seen nothing to indicate that either Clear Channel's KEBC or Citadel's WKY, the two weaker talk stations, have any changes in store.) At most, we lose a CBS station, and one which trailed badly in the ratings at that.

More to the point, KTOK, already carrying Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, can hardly lurch farther rightward by the addition of five whole minutes (minus commercials) of Fox News on the hour.

Jones does the math:

[I]f all options are exercised, Fox News could have more than 500 affiliates by the middle of 2005.

The presumed big loser in this deal is ABC Radio, which has eleven networks, five of which are targeted to news/talk stations. ABC predominates among existing Clear Channel news/talk outlets; even if they were to lose 500 affiliates, which they won't, it would hurt, but they'd still have around 2000. Westwood One, which distributes CBS, NBC and CNN Radio, services about 1500 news/talk stations. National Public Radio has 750 affiliates. That evil Fox monolith is headed straight for fourth place.

Preston Jones finishes up his article with a mention of AlterNet's ongoing Fox coverage. I figure the least I can do is post a link to it. But the amount of sleep I plan to lose over the Clear Channel/Fox deal can be measured in microseconds.

Posted at 2:00 PM to Overmodulation

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The bias I've detected just listening with a tenth of an ear to ABC Radio newscasts is enough to make me wish radio newscasts could simply be dispensed with.

If the Clear Channel station I hear these lefty propaganda broadcasts on dumps them for Fox News, I may listen to the newscasts with a ninth of an ear.

Commercials, however, will still be just so much white noise, regardless.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:09 PM on 18 December 2004

As a former radio reporter, I can attest that that the ClearChannel switch to Fox News Radio is significant. One of ClearChannel's specialties is AM news/talk, and the company operates a lot of the major market news/talk stations (e.g., Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, LA, Phoenix, San Diego). For ABC News Radio to drop out or drop down in these markets is a major blow.

BTW, here in Columbus, Ohio, ClearChannel is switching the top-rated AM station (which carries Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh) from ABC to Fox. ClearChannel also operates another AM talker that runs AirAmerica. I contacted the news director for ClearChannel and jokingly stated that I couldn't wait for the pairing of Fox News with AirAmerica, but he informed me that the AirAmerica frequency was outside of the agreement with Fox and that CNN would continue to provide the hourlies on that frequency.

Posted by: Michael Meckler at 9:12 AM on 19 December 2004

Not to minimize ABC's pain and suffering, but they still own some pretty big news/talk operations outright; the CC/Fox deal will wound them, but it won't deal them anything resembling a death blow.

We have the one-minute Fox inserts at WKY, which I assume are also outside the CC/Fox agreement and which I expect will continue.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:07 AM on 19 December 2004