The writing on the wall

Submitted by Anon on 18 June, 2003 - 1:00
  • Corporate America takes over the airwaves
  • Shiny new Corporate America?
  • Striking a pose
  • Striking it rich?

Corporate America takes over the airwaves

The UK radio market is about to be deregulated, making it ripe for take over by big media corporations. One company that will do well in the UK market is US conglomerate Clear Channel.

In the US Clear Channel is the biggest radio station owner with 10% of the stations and 25% of the audience. The company also owns or manages 39 US TV stations.

The company already has a stake in the UK - they currently have around 11,000 advertising sites, an entertainment branch promoting gigs and West End shows around the country, and they own theatres, including the Oxford Apollo.

Until he was sacked, well-known conservative radio DJ Howard Stern broadcast his views on Clear Channel-owned radio stations. According to Stern he was sacked because he stopped supporting Bush.

Surprise, surprise, the company's executives have many business links with the Bush family.

When the Dixie Chicks suggested on a London stage in 2003 that they were ashamed the president of the United States was from Texas, it triggered a backlash in the States. Clear Channel were at the forefront and fired two DJs at country radio station KKCS who dared to break the ban.

In February this year, Clear Channel vowed to "fight the rising tide of indecency on the airwaves" and adopt what Chief operating officer Mark Mays described as a "zero tolerance" policy for "indecent" content.

DJs now face suspension or dismissal for broadcast of "obscene material".

But Clear Channel doesn't believe that disc jockey Bill Handel's comments were obscene when he aired a skit in which make-believe Muslims made remarks suggesting Muslims engage in sex with animals and are obsessed with killing Jews.

Shiny new Corporate America?

In a bid to improve their image Wal-Mart bosses (trading as Asda in the UK) vowed to take a 7.5% cut in bonuses this year if they failed to meet their "individual diversity goals". Come again?

That is their targets for the promotion of minorities and women. But hang on, aren't most of Wal Mart's low paid (and in America non-unionised) workers black and Hispanic women?

In other words, they are going to promote a few more people from the shop floor. This is America. And behind the frantic PR machine lies a law suit.

Or rather multiple lawsuits the company has going against it for being such a crap employer.

Striking a pose

Andrew Rawnsley's column in the Observer on 6 June was for once quite perceptive. Comparing the similarities between Tony Blair and his once arch-nemesis, Ken Livingstone, he said "New Labour's frequent habit is to sound more right wing than the government actually is. [Well, maybe!] Livingstone employs the same tactic, just in reverse. He strikes poses which are more left wing than his actual practice."

In the recent past, it is his opposition to war in Iraq that has been the left wing pose. But this counts for little when he is condoning partial privatisation of the Tube, slagging off Tube workers for striking and, as Rawnsley puts it, "sucking up to business interests, especially property developers."

Striking it rich?

The SWP claim to have broken though to 'mass politics' with Respect, but observers report a notable lack of enthusiasm for Respect and George Galloway among SWP members. Now the SWP has announced it is selling the printshop which has subsidised its political work since 1968.

Not having their own press will massively increase the cost of all their publications. Crisis? If so, of growth or decline?

It's all very déjà vu. In the mid-70s Gerry Healy's Workers Revolutionary Party went into crisis and closed their press. In fact they were moving it to Cheshire to get away from the London print unions. At the same time they sold the organisation to Libya, Iraq and other Arab regimes as a propaganda and spying agency (on Arab dissidents and prominent Jews).

In Britain Gerry Healy, George Galloway and others have found the public support for Arab causes which the SWP now provides very lucrative. Galloway admits taking money for his political activities from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and a Jordanian businessman linked to Iraq.

And the SWP? Will it resolve its financial problems in the, so to speak, now traditional way? I can't really believe it.

But why not? Socialist principles? Those who ally with the clerical fascist Muslim Brotherhood and its UK front the Muslim Association of Britain, have socialist principles?

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