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
"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
"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
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.