Robert McChesney

(Robert Waterman McChesney)

Robert McChesney
Robert McChesney
  • Born: December 22, 1952
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Professor, Author, Activist, Journalist

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Robert Waterman McChesney is an American professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign as the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication. He specializes in the history and political economy of communication, and the role media play in democratic and capitalist societies. He co-founded Free Press, a national media reform organization. From 2002–12, he hosted “Media Matters” weekly radio program every Sunday afternoon on WILL-AM radio.

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In many respects we now live in a society that is only formally democratic, as the great mass of citizens have minimal say on the major public issues of the day, and such issues are scarcely debated at all in any meaningful sense in the electoral arena Democracies & Republics
It was the use of public policy to create economics that favored the big players. There were only a handful of channels. And only some people were going to get them and become fabulously wealthy. Policy & Policy Making
Also, the commercial media in a superior position, really, to any other corporate lobby, because where would people hear about commercial media or corporate media criticism, where would they hear criticism of them other than in the commercial media?
And they've got to be held accountable; our broadcasting system has to be made accountable; and unless it is, it's going to be very hard to change anything else for the better in this country.
And understand that scarce spectrum is used today for example for cell phone operators, they have to pay for the airwaves they use, for their services.
As the mainstream media has become increasingly dependent on advertising revenues for support, it has become an anti-democratic force in society. Society
Basically what they're saying is, if you want to be on TV, if you want to be a credible candidate, you've got to buy ads. And if you're not buying ads, you're not a credible candidate, we don't cover you.
Because Hightower's problem, among other things, is that advertisers would be a lot less interested in his show than in Limbaugh's, even if they have similar ratings, because of what Hightower is saying.
Because what's going on now, and this applies mostly to television stations in the largest markets too, but TV stations basically are now the primary receivers of campaign spending.
But having said that, there's also a sea change in attitude towards media.
But having said that, what's happening with campaign finance reform and our political culture is devastating. Business, Commerce & Finance
If you look at the history of broadcasting, what you find is the National Association of Broadcasters is a trade association whose mission is to protect the interests of the commercial broadcasters. History
If you're running for reelection in the House of Representatives race, you know, it's very important to you that you be on fairly good terms with the local affiliates in the largest market in your area. I mean you don't want to antagonize them.
Local television news, on both radio and television, is so appalling. Makes print journalism look like the greatest stuff ever written.
Maybe if you and ten of your friends could pool your savings and borrow some money and actually buy some obscure station in Sonoma, and then take some chances and have some fun. Money, Coins & Minting
One survey that I saw that was published I think in Variety or Electronic Media within the last three weeks says that now the average hour of radio in the United States has 18 minutes of commercials.
Our existing media system today is the direct result of government laws and subsidies that created it. Government
So it's a much more difficult issue to organize around, because you can't get media at all to make your case. And that's where cases tend to be made politically.
So that what you tend to see is someone like a Rush Limbaugh, he's the classic case because he's the most successful, he didn't sort of like come out of his mother's womb with the highest ratings in the country.
So the competition isn't once you got the license, running the station; it's getting the license.
So the system we have in radio and television today is the direct result of government policies that have been made in our name, in the name of the people, on our behalf, but without our informed consent. Government
The commercial broadcasters have tremendous influence in Washington, D.C., for a couple of reasons. First, they're extremely rich and they have lots of money and they have had for a long time, so they can give money to politicians, which gets their attention. Time ;Money, Coins & Minting
The cost of congressional and presidential campaigns has been leaping every two or four years. I think this year it will be 60 percent more than 1996; well over twice as much as in 1992 in the presidential and congressional races.
The number one lobby that opposes campaign finance reform in the United States is the National Association of Broadcasters. Business, Commerce & Finance
The public gets not one penny from them in return for those airwaves.
The relationship between the media owner, their relationship isn't strictly with people and audiences. It's also with advertisers, and that's the most relationship in radio; in fact it pays the bills.
The whole process of getting licenses to broadcast, which took place decades ago, was done behind closed doors by powerful lobbies, and wealthy commercial interests got all the licenses with no public input, no congressional input for that matter.
What I've found is that there is a tremendous interest in these issues, across the political spectrum, sort of left-right terms we used to describe people don't really hold here exactly.
When the government allocates monopoly rights to frequency, and there are only a handful in each community, it's picking the winners in the competition. Government
When the government picked companies and gave them monopoly rights to frequencies in San Francisco and Los Angeles and New York and Chicago, it was picking the winners of the competition; it wasn't setting the terms of the competition. Government
Which is supposed to mean they're doing something in their broadcasting they would not do is they were simply out to maximize profit; if they were really public service institutions, not purely profit maximizing institutions.
You know, a left-winger, the barrier to success if you're on the left in commercial radio is a mile and a half higher than it is if you're on the right. Success

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