Archive for radio

Making Clear Channel Pay

You will remember that New York City Council Member John Liu was the one who brought attention to Clear Channel DJ Star's outrageous threats of sexual violence on a 4 year old. Star has since been fired, but the Councilman, like me, is not satisfied.

According to the Daily News, he wants Clear Channel to pay $5 million to the Megan Nicole Kanka Foundation, which was established in memory of Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl slain by a sex-offender neighbor. He was on Wakeup Call this morning emphasizing Clear Channel's culpability (mp3).

Mr. Liu is heading in the right direction by seeking to hold Clear Channel accountable, but he's off base if he thinks that this incident shows that the danger to children comes from pedophiliacs. The danger to children comes from corporate media that use sensationalist trash talk and a warped version of hip hop to capture them as listeners.

I don't for a second think that Troi Torain was actually going to sexually assault the 4-year-old daughter of Gia Casey and DJ Envy. But I do think that children, like the rest of us, are under increasing assault from a hyper-commercialized and violent corporate media.

Kat's got the right idea when she says that, like money from the tobacco lawsuits going to help young people resist cigarrettes, money from FCC indecency fines should go to support media justice (or at least media literacy).

In other words, there are two ways to go up the ladder looking to hold someone responsible. You can blame the owner, Clear Channel, which would lead you to demand a fine or restitution. Or you can blame consolidation of ownership, in which case this would only add to your conviction that we need to support license redistribution.

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New audio PSAs from the Allied Media Conference!

Check out the newly-released AMC audio PSAs. In addition to promoting the 2006 Allied Media Conference, they tackle the major media issues of the day through a social justice lens while attacking the corporate media and having a good time doing it – all in less than 30 seconds!

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ClearChannel fires Star, laughs all the way to the bank with a tax refund of $843 million

If you were angry yesterday when you learned what now-fired ClearChannel radio host Troi Torain has been saying on air you are really going to hit the roof when you realize who was, in effect, paying his salary: you.

(Before I get into that, can someone explain to me how it wasn't "news" when he said it or even when a City Council Member protested it, but only once ClearChannel did something about it? Headline: "Power 105 radio host Star gets fired". How about, headline: "ClearChannel = hate radio")

Now, about that money of yours going to ClearChannel… Through accounting magic, ClearChannel was able to claim an $891 million capital loss in the 4th quarter of 2005 from the spinoff of its live music division. As a result, they got a tax refund of $314.1 million.

Yes: the IRS is writing a check for $314,100,000 to ClearChannel Communications to pay for things like hate radio DJs. (Don't think it stops because Star is out; as I said, hate is a business model for Lowry Mays and co.)

Here's how ClearChannel describes it in their 10-K filing with the SEC (p35):

Discontinued Operations
We completed the spin-off of our live entertainment and sports representation businesses on December 21, 2005. In accordance with Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 144, Accounting for the Impairment or Disposal of Long-Lived Assets, we reported the results of operations for these businesses through December 21, 2005 in discontinued operations. The spin-off generated a capital loss for tax purposes of approximately $2.4 billion. We utilized approximately $890.7 million of this capital loss in the current year to offset taxable capital gains realized in 2005 and previous years, which resulted in a $314.1 million tax benefit which is included in income from discontinued operations in the fourth quarter of 2005. The remaining $1.5 billion of the $2.4 billion capital loss was recorded as a deferred tax asset with an offsetting valuation allowance on our balance sheet at December 31, 2005.

Now, I don't know anything about the "Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 144, Accounting for the Impairment or Disposal of Long-Lived Assets," but I sure wish someone had shown me that field in TurboTax when I was filing a return. I completed the spin-off my first generation iPod last year; I'd love $150 million from the government. How about those workers at Ford or GM that completed the spin-off of their jobs in 2005?

ClearChannel has $1.5 billion left in capital losses from the spin-off that they can claim against earnings in the future. At the rate of their first refund, that's another $529 million ClearChannel claims to have coming to them from the federal government for a grand total of $843 million.

And they still have those licenses we gave them to use our airwaves.

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Some out of control racism and violence at ClearChannel, where they are offering $500 for information on a 4-year-old girl and talking about sexually assaulting her

The following press release from the office of New York City Council Member John Liu refers to Star of the Star & BucWild show broadcast on Power105 in New York and Power99 in Philadelphia.

This goes beyond even the worst comments I’ve heard from the show before. In the following excerpts taken over the course of five days, Star uses racist and child-sex hate speech to attack a DJ at the other local hip hop station, DJ Envy, and his wife and child.

The fact that this is an attack on a competitor in the market (that was there long before ClearChannel came in, by the way, and is owned by an also-messed up but much smaller corporation) cannot be separated out. That’s why I say it is ClearChannel attacking the Asian American Gia Casey and her four-year-old daughter because they are using them in a capitalist turf war. The corporation must be held responsible; firing Star is not enough.

I’m going to put more of my comments at the bottom because you should read the whole thing:

For Immediate Release
May 9, 2006
Contact: John Choe 646-296-1455
Sent via Internet

*** Media Advisory ***

Council Members to Demand Termination of DJ “Star” from Power 105 Radio Station;
Racist Pedophile Broadcasts Violate Federal Regulations

Council Member John Liu and other elected officials will demand that Mr. Troi Torain (also known as DJ “Star”) be fired immediately from Clear Channel Communications’ Power 105 radio station (105.1 FM) in New York City. The officials will be joined by Ms. Gia Casey, themother of two children whose safety she fears for.

From May 3 through May 8, 2006, Mr. Torain produced and broadcast comments over public airwaves expressing his desire to have sex with, ejaculate on, and urinate on Ms. Casey’s young daughter (age 4). He has also offered $500 to anyone with information about the school that the girl attends.

Ms. Casey has also been the subject of Torain’s slurs against women and Asians. Ms. Casey identifies herself as part-Asian.Taped copies of his remarks will be made available at the newsconference. Excerpts of his broadcasts are provided below.

Wednesday, May 10, 2005 from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM.

City Hall, Red Room.

Council Members JOHN LIU.

Star: Somebody holla at me and tell me about his whore wife and his kid. 866-678-8270. … Somebody get at me about his whore. Hiswhore wife and his kid, this little ugly ass kid, I hear. Where…where does this kid go to school? I got five hundred bucks for that
information. Somebody email me or gimme a call. Just tell me where his kid goes to school. Let’s see who’s really gully on the microphone. Five hundred dollars, in my pocket, right now. I need toknow the school, this faggot ass nigga, DJ’s kid goes to school.

Star: I’ve got information on DJ Benji, aka… what’s his name again? Envy. I’ve got information on his gook. His baby’s mother.

BucWild: A gook?

Star: Hemp University, uh, cats used to run trains on her. Green BMW… I’ll get to all this in a few minutes.

Star: OH! And I got the information, the school his kid goes to.

[Woman's voice] Really?

Star: Yeah, I’m savin’ that one. That’s, that’s… That’s the one I’m gonna pull out if I have to. If I have to. Oh yes, I’ll, I’ll comefor your kids. I will come for your kids. I finally got theinformation on his slant eyed, whore wife. The information on his slant eyed, whore wife. Yes. A cat who actually ran a train on her,
contacted me. [chuckle] Allegedly ran a train on her once upon a time. Allegedly. Once upon a time. Ejaculated all over her face,

Star: No, let me just touch on this real quick,But there’s a woman out there right now who pushed out a little lo-mein eater by a DJ down by the sloppy station. I got at this alleged slut whore, heh, and this little half a lo-mein eater. …Yes, I disrespected your seed. If you didn’t hear me, I said, I would like to do an R. Kelly on your seed, on your little baby girl. I wouldlike to tinkle on her.
“Call the cops”? Nigga, please, there’s no bodyguards. I carry the 9. Most of the cats that are with me, have felony convictions, they can’tcarry. I’m disrespectin’ your seed. I would like to skeet on the face
of your seed. Now that’s, that’s real talk dawg. You have to come holla at me now. Call me, I’ll meet you somewhere, but don’t act likeyou were waiting in some parking lot with like 50 niggers. Please.
Now, again, to the woman, who carried that little mongrel for 9months. … I’m coming for your seed. Did you hear me? (*thump, thump,thump* noise) I want to do an R. Kelly in the mouth of your seed fem?
You holla at me now I’m the easiest man in the world to find.
And my name is The Hater. You holla back now, DJ Envy.

Star: Let me see now, uh, DJ Benji attention! In case you didn’t hear me, I said, I want to put some mayonnaise in between your baby girl’s ass crack and take a bite.

This is beyond hate radio. This is a hate corporation. This is a business model that uses racism and sexual assault to gain market share.

The problem here is much bigger than the FCC selectively enforcing obscenity rules based on racism or political favoritism. The problem is one of ownership and accountability. It is only through the kind of massive consolidation of media ownership – epitomized by ClearChannel – that a business could carry on this way.

Everyone in a city with a ClearChannel station (and if you have to ask, that means you) needs to get up on the process to file a license challenge. Here are two models to look at:

In Philadelphia, the Social Action Committee has been organizing against Star & BucWild for the past year. See Bruce Schimmel’s thoughts on the issue.

At the same time that we challenge corporate radio, we need to build up and support community radio. We need local, neighborhood radio stations. We cannot separate ownership and content; we must solve the first problem to address the second.

[read the follow up article on the firing of Star]

[read more articles on Clear Channel]

[listen to what Star said and file a complaint with the FCC]

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On the Radio This Morning…

I did a little bit to earn my url this morning. I was on WBAI's Wakeup Call news program (99.5 FM in New York City) talking about the Philly wireless plan and the battle for an open internet.

This radio technology is really cool. Someone calls, you speak into the phone for 15 minutes, then it comes out as an mp3 on the Internet. Somewhere in between, it gets broadcast through the air to millions of people. Sweet.

Here's the link to my interview (starts about two-thirds in, at minute 42 or so).

Here are the two websites I mentioned for action on the COPE bill:

I also mentioned the impact this bill could have on municipal broadband projects. As it currently stands, the bill would actually do a good thing by overriding the 15 or 16 state prohibitions on these projects. But even that small ray of sunshine is in danger in today's mark-up session. For details on this, check out Harold Feld's blog, Tales of the Sausage Factory.

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