Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 2:37am
MEDIA ACTIVISTS FIGHT CLEAR CHANNEL'S 'HATE RADIO'
[SOURCE: The NewStandard, AUTHOR: Catherine Komp]
A broadcasting giant that swallowed up more than 1,200 radio stations across the country after Congress relaxed ownership rules a decade ago is once again at the center of controversy over offensive programming. But this time, Clear Channel's ongoing tolerance of "shock-jock" programmers resulted in on-air threats of death and references to sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl on one of the New York City's highest-rated urban stations. New York City police last month arrested Troi Torain, also known as DJ Star of the nationally-syndicated "Star & Buc Wild Morning Show." They charged him with harassment and endangerment of a child. Torain's tirade about a rival DJ's family also included racial and sexual slurs against the deejay's wife. Clear Channel then fired the top-rated personality, who has a reputation for hateful, racist programming, but only after city leaders held a press conference denouncing his behavior. The company issued a statement apologizing "to those who may have been offended by his remarks." Long-time critics of Clear Channel, including media diversity activists and community organizations, are using the event to reignite a national movement against the company and remind people about the responsibility of broadcasters to serve the public interest in exchange for their free use of the public airwaves. Activists say that despite millions of dollars in federal fines and settlements, and promises to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to "indecency," Clear Channel continues to use "hate radio" as a business model, supporting derogatory programming because it attracts advertisers. Last month, media reform, training and access groups launched the "No Hate Radio" campaign. Groups, including New York-based Radio Rootz, San Francisco's Youth Media Council and the national organizing groups Prometheus Radio Project and Free Press, are urging people to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about Clear Channel's broadcasts through the nohateradio.org website. They are also asking the agency to consider the need for more diverse, local voices on radio stations.
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