Goodmon urges FCC to take action

Says localism, diversity key in broadcasting

 

Jim Goodmon, president and chief executive officer of Capitol Broadcasting,was the keynote speaker at a gathering of the School of Communications Advisory Board Oct. 3.

Goodman, the longtime leader of one of the nation's most prestigious local television stations, WRAL, passionately defended what he labeled "broadcasting in the public interest," saying localism and diversity are disappearing and must be defended.

"These two issues are the key," he explained. "The local broadcasting system we have now doesn't look anything like how we were first set up - 1,600 local stations set up to serve their local communities. Localism is the first important principle. The second is diversity. Diversity of ownership is necessary, and with all of the corporate takeovers, we're going in the wrong direction there. It seems the people who run most corporations today have only one mission - to make the most money they can this quarter."

Goodmon's audience included media professionals, communications students, university administrators and faculty members. "I have hit the wall," he exclaimed. "I have a particular view about broadcasting, and I want to move it forward in communications schools, with students, and in broadcasting as a business. You can't take democracy for granted. The core of democracy is free speech. We are at its core. Who decides what we hear and see? How many voices are there, and how diverse are they? This is what matters. Are we going to let major corporations decide what we hear and see or are we going to get back to local broadcasting?"

Goodman said the lack of regulation in television today is wrong and must be remedied. He said network-owned-and-operated stations are run out of corporate headquarters, with no eye to what the public needs and no sense of community responsibility. "We used to have a code of conduct and you didn't violate the code," he said. "They threw it out because of antitrust worries. I believe in the free market system, but I don't believe in an unfettered marketplace when it begins to control what the people see and hear in their primary media source. They say they have 170 channels on cable TV, but those channels are owned by about four companies. That's not diversity."

He said now, as the groundwork is being laid for the switch from analog to digital television, it is time to challenge the Federal Communications Commission to reinstate requirements for owners of local broadcast licenses. He added that every station should be required to file a quarterly report showing its commitment to local news, local public affairs programming and local public-service announcements. He shared copies of a document he filed with the FCC urging the adoption of "Minimum Standards for Digital Television Broadcasters."

"The industry has been going in the wrong direction, it's a mess" he said. "We can't take this any more. We have to tell them so. We have a chance to rescue localism, to rescue the public interest."

Making news on the campaign trail

Goodmon also announced that WRAL-TV is offering voters information during the 2002 election season through its special "Candidates & Issues" segments. Leading candidates in North Carolina's U.S. Senate race and in the Congressional matches in the 8th and 13th districts were invited to tape clips about their political positions.

"We told them we would give them time to discuss the issues but required that they could not talk about their opponents," he said. "They had serious trouble with that."

U.S. Senate candidates Erskine Bowles(D) and Elizabeth Dole (R) taped spots addressing three issues: the impact of NAFTA on the state, abortion, and whether or not citizens should be able to invest a portion of their Social Security withholding. The segments will run throughout the month during newscast timeslots. FOX50 in Durham, WJZY-TV and WWWB-TV in Charlotte, WILM-TV in Wilmington and Raleigh radio station WRAL-FM will also carry the spots. These segments can be accessed and watched on WRAL.com. WXII-TV in Winston-Salem will also carry the U.S. Senate and 13th Congressional district messages.

Capitol Broadcasting owns WRAL-TV, WRAZ-TV and WRAL-FM in Raleigh, WJZY-TV and WWWB-TV in Charlotte, WILM-TV in Wilmington, the North Carolina News Network, Capitol Sports Network, Microspace Communications Corporation, the minor league baseball franchises in Durham and Myrtle Beach, and DTV Plus.

 

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Last Modified:  10/04/02
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