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Imus Fallout

Look for the anti-media consolidation community to use the Imus controversy to push for media reform.

Just as I was thinking that, I received an e-mail from Free Press using the Imus controversy to push for media reform and pointing me to this Web form.

The email read as follows:

"Dear Media Reformers,

The controversy over Don Imus' racist remarks goes far beyond one bigoted commentator. But getting rid of Imus won't fix the media problem.

Most of our TV and radio stations are owned by giant corporate conglomerates. They don't represent the views of most Americans — and they make huge profits off the public airwaves.

What we need are more diverse, independent and local media owners. Yet right now less than 10% of TV and radio stations are owned by people of color or women.

But instead of addressing this national disgrace, the Federal Communications Commission is actually trying to let the largest companies buy up even more stations! "

I had been prompted to ponder that prospect by a quote from Al Sharpton that Imus was only the "first round," and that his group was expanding an upcoming conference to include a planning session on what companies it was going after next to challenge on diversity issues.

Raising the spectre of license challenges, Sharpton called the issue about "responsible use of the airwaves.

I hope that the fall-out from this unfortunate exercise is an open and thoughtful discussion about race rather than an attempt to hammer the industry with it.

By John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.