Friday, July 11, 2008

Rush vs Ralph

Perennial Presidential Spoiler Ralph Nader wrote a letter to Rush Limbaugh in response to his new 8-year, $38-milllion-a-year contract with Premiere Radio Networks: “You are making this money on the public property of the American people for which you pay no rent. You, Rush Limbaugh, are on welfare.”

The man who killed the Corvair, and is considered the father of OSHA, rightly pointed out in his epistle to the apostle Rush that public airwaves belong to the American people.

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to be our trustee in managing this property,” wrote Nader. “The people are the landlords and the radio and TV stations and affiliated companies are the tenants.”

Hmmm...wonder why Ralph didn’t write to Sumner Redstone (CBS Corporation) Lowry Mayes (Clear Channel) or Farid Suleiman (Citadel Broadcasting), who are in fact the “corporate tenants,” as owners of most of the Radio stations in America, not Rush.

Limbaugh is no different from Dr. Laura, Paul Harvey, or in an extreme example, Howard Stern, all of whom are media personalities, not station operators.

Their job is to entertain to such an extent that the owners of stations who carry their shows may generate revenues by selling advertising during the programs. The networks who syndicate their shows also sell advertising around the programs.
That's how media works, Ralph.

Will you next be asking Jay Leno and David Letterman to pay rent for their time on the NBC and CBS television networks? How about getting Rupert Murdoch to pony up some rent money for pedalling his papers on the street corners of Anytown, USA?

Could it be, ladies and gentlemen, the same man who leveraged his position against General Motors for enough dough to start Public Citizen is now perhaps a little jealous of the marketing machine of Limbaugh’s EIB? Me thinks he doth protest too much.

Why not attack Premier Networks, the programming syndicator that provides shows like Rush Limbaugh, Jim Rome, and Glenn Beck to Radio stations across America?

Those stations are airing those programs at no cost other than the barter for the airtime. Rush, Jim, and Glenn are really no more than vaudeville entertainers—highly paid, of course—but in the final analysis, they’re just actors.

But, in a politically-charged atmosphere where everyone is scrambling for a little limelight, people are prone to say just about anything—from comments about castrating candidates, to proposing to charge rent to Radio talk show hosts.

I can’t wait to hear Rush’s take on this, in response.

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