suck harder.
a fish, a barrel, and a smoking rejection.
for 30 September 1996. Updated WHENEVER we get a submission.

the fish
[OK, so this is a
little out of date.
Hey, if Gangsta Barbie
had sucked harder in
the first place,
this piece would
have been more
timely. -- Ed.]

Merge Right


Conspiracy theorists can go nuts

his week, as the four main media

giants who control and own just

about the entire broadcasting

industry continue to swallow each

other up whole and combine

resources. If this cannibalistic

orgy continues, soon our entire

media will be broadcast by one

voice alone.


The latest mega-merger: on

Thursday, June 20, Westinghouse,

the proud owner of the giant

refrigerator business, nuclear

power-plant servicing company, the

nation's largest radio broadcasting

unit, and CBS, including both "60

Minutes" and "Late Night with David

Letterman," announced its

intention to purchase Infinity, one

of the nation's largest operator of

radio stations; major provider of

billboard, mass transit, and other

outdoor advertising; and, most

relevantly, partial manager and

owner of Westwood One, the top

syndicator of radio programming in

the country, whose radio

personalities include Watergate

burglar G. Gordon Liddy and "shock

jock" Howard Stern.


If and when the deal is finalized

-- it still has to be approved by

the FCC, which has not really cared

about monopolies recently -- the

4.9 billion dollar purchase would

form a unified radio front that

would purportedly bring in

advertising revenues of a billion

dollars, through its control of 83

radio stations and 16 markets. In

fact, Westinghouse will be the

proud possessor of dominance in the

ten largest radio markets in the

country. And even though

Westinghouse purchased CBS around

this time last year, its CEO,

Michael Jordan, insists that it

intends to increase its

broadcasting holdings by 20 percent



Can't Westinghouse be satisfied

with its holdings in the nuclear

power plant industry? No, it must

own both the wavelengths and the

power plants that may someday power

it all.


None of this should come as a

surprise. When Congress passed,

and the President signed, the 1996

Telecommunications Act, which

raised the limit on the number of

radio stations that any one company

could lawfully own and control, all

of the stations started to

consolidate and own each other.


Is it only me that that frightens?


Take, for example, the big debate

over allowing alcohol companies to

advertise on television. The

biggest supporter of this blatantly

anti-children and anti-morality

scam is The Seagram Corporation,

the second largest distiller in the

world (after Grand Metropolitan)

whose brands include 7 Crown, Crown

Royal, and V.O. whiskeys, Chivas

Regal scotch, Myer's rum, and

Martell cognac. Even given the

White House's horror over this

scandal, television stations appear

to be receptive.


Close investigation reveals that

Seagram's owns large chunks of both

Time Warner and MCA. Thus should

we be surprised that standards

regarding alcohol advertisement on

television are now loosening? How

very clever of Seagram's to buy out

the media to open up the airwaves

to product promotion.


The Infinity/Westinghouse deal

certainly is a curious one. Perhaps

most alarming to the happy lemming

public that makes up the majority

of the radio listeners, is the fact

that Infinity is the company that

owns Howard Stern's radio show --

and recently signed him for another

five year contract. Regardless of

Stern's intelligence-quotient value

-- which, personally, I find

generally low -- Stern can be

rightfully be revered for being a

barbed spike in the side of "you

can't say that on the radio"

uptight frightened conservatives.


In fact, it is reported, last

September, Infinity paid $1.715

million to the U.S. government to

resolve more than 100 claims of

indecency involving Stern's daily

radio shows. Pretty impressive

for just one skinny dude with long



When questioned on whether

Westinghouse would back Stern in

such a supportive manner,

Westinghouse CEO Michael Jordan

insisted that Stern can operate

freely ``as long as he follows the

rules and Howard has been following

the rules.'' Hm. Really? Well,

I guess if you pay the government

two million dollars, they will let

you get away with a few bends of

their razor-straight rules.


Let's hope that Westinghouse

continues to pay the Stern tabs.

Truly, the *entire* value of Howard

Stern stems from the fact that he

does not follow the rules. A

Howard Stern who goes conventional

might as well be a Dan Rather, also

owned by Westinghouse.


With all of this corporate

grubbing, it can be difficult to

hear the shouting of the little

independent broadcaster under the

din of noise created by

Westinghouse/CBS, General

Electric/NBC, Time Warner/Turner

Broadcasting, and Disney/ABC Cap

Cities. But do these little people

really have anything interesting to



It should come as no epiphany that

that ABC News-slash-Disney

ultimately apologized to Philip

Morris, a major television

advertiser through its subsidiary

Kraft foods, for having exposed to

the public the truth about Philip

Morris's manipulation of nicotine

levels on a broadcast of ABC's news

show, Day One? Should we be

surprised when CBS news stops being

critical of the nuclear power

industry, controlled in large part

by CBS's sugar daddy, Westinghouse?


Then again, thinking for oneself is

perhaps just too challenging and

time consuming. If you are a

small-time media outfit, perhaps

the best you can wish for is to be

bought out by one of the big guys.

That way, at least, your time can

be freed up from thinking, to

instead enjoying the finer

pleasures in life, like surfing the

CNN Interactive web site and

drinking a smooth 7 & 7.


Thus, who cares if the entire media

industry owns each other. At least

we still have the internet, which

delivers to us a whole range of

different types of garbage.

courtesy of Gangsta Barbie

the barrel

the gun