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Let’s take our airwaves back from the advertisers

Posted: April 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.

I’ve always heard that the airwaves belong to the people.

Well, I’m a “people,” and I’d like to make some changes in how it’s being used by the people who are supposed to be controlling it.

They should not let it be used for three minutes of commercials for seven minutes of programming, and they should not let it be used for three hours of viewing a movie that runs for one hour and 30 minutes.

We, the people, should take our airwaves back. I know who has them. It’s the FCC, The Federal Communications Commission, the five people appointed by the president, with the approval of Congress, to do just about anything with our airwaves.

We should demand that they do a better job for us.

I heard about the FCC a great many years ago when I was in college, and I remember clearly that the commission is very powerful.

It can tell stations how many minutes of commercial time to allow per hour of programming, and if the stations do not comply, the commission could revoke their licenses.

Years ago, the FCC was doing a pretty good job for us, the people. However, over the years the stations have been allowed to do whatever they want, and it is us, all of us, “the people,” who suffer.

I wanted to find out what happened, when things changed and why. I went to the internet, clicked on Google, and instantly had information — mountains of information.

Did you know that the FCC was involved this morning when you automatically opened your garage door? When airwaves are involved, so is the FCC.

Yes, there are five people on the commission, and they are in charge,but there are a multitude of departments and thousands of employees. 

Try as I may, I could not find out when and why things changed and why we, the people, we viewers, are now not getting a fair shake.

Is there a way for us to have better control of our airwaves? Do they still belong to us?

Perhaps there’s a Signal reader out there who has the answer. I hope so. For the sake of the hundreds; no, thousands; perhaps millions of people who feel the same way I feel — I await that answer.

Richard Myers is a Valencia resident.


ricketzz: Posted: April 28, 2014 6:17 a.m.

Most of the deterioration happened in the 1990s. Bill Clinton championed the 1996 rewrite of the Communications Act of 1934. Deregulation has destroyed democracy, but now there's nobody left to tell us we've been robbed.

BrianBaker: Posted: April 28, 2014 6:56 a.m.

Myers: "Is there a way for us to have better control of our airwaves?"

Sure. It's called the "power button", and it allows you to turn your TV or radio off. No one's forcing you to watch or listen to anything. If you think there are too many commercials, turn them off or switch to NPR.

17trillion: Posted: April 28, 2014 8:18 a.m.

My thoughts exactly Brian. I rarely watch commercials anymore. If I can plan ahead, I Tivo and fast forward.

tech: Posted: April 28, 2014 9:08 a.m.

Mr. Myers apparently doesn't understand the advertising subsidy business model of TV programming content. No doubt he'd complain if paying the full freight and/or was taxed per TV as they do in the UK.

This weekend, we streamed movies from Apple and Amazon, watched recorded TiVo programs w/commercial skip and viewed History Channel content commercial free on their Apple TV channel.

I've noted that those who wish for direct government intervention to regulate every product/service as a utility monopoly are disconnected from reality. The technology is there. Do it yourself and stop expecting government to grant your every desire. --edited.

Lotus8: Posted: April 28, 2014 5:07 p.m.

Great point tech. With increasing competition from internet content (YouTube, Netflix, Apple TV, etc.) and folks whizzing past commercials in recorded content, everyone has to get more creative. This is why we have more product placement in shows and sporting events than ever, and is why things that folks tend to watch live like sports are commanding more and more money from broadcasters each year. Nobody watches commercials unless they are watching live television. YouTube does a decent job with commercials in that they allow you to skip after several seconds, which forces advertisers to create catchy advertising that may entice someone to continue watching it for up to about 3 minutes. You know what, occasionally I actually do just that because I choose to watch the ad that aligns with my interests. Big data has made the world a more targeted place. Advertisers are getting smarter, which is why television ads placed in live sporting events and the top shows watched in real time are more about brand recognition than about some 10% discount on a certain product.

Television "airwaves" are not always full of live events, so in order to make up the differential there are now more commercials. They are even starting to place 30 second pieces of the show you are watching (outtakes or a funny aside) in the middle of a commercial block in order to get you to stop the DVR and maybe catch pieces of the two surrounding commercials. Even though you fast forward, you also still get a brand impression because you are paying attention to the television in order to know when to stop. These folks in advertising aren't stupid, and the broadcasters aren't running a not-for-profit public service. This is a money making enterprise on all fronts.

BrianBaker: Posted: April 28, 2014 5:35 p.m.

Yep, guys, I really think you all nailed this one.

I guess Myers thinks that programming pays for itself magically. That's how collectivist brains seem to function. Maybe he'd prefer that shows like "The Blacklist" or "Person Of Interest" or even "Dancing With The Stars" were created using the reduced funding available without the commercials.

It could now be "The Brownlist", with lower video resolution, and a cast of three unknown actors backed with a writing team of college Juniors. "Person Of Interest" wouldn't star Jim Caviezel; it would be Bob Goldblatt. Never heard of Bob Goldblatt? Well, that's all they could afford, so there! When he's not acting, he's "Your table server" at the Lazy Dog at the mall.

As to "Dancing With The Stars".... you get to perform a solo number in your backyard in front of your own tripod-mounted cell phone, on a moonless night, and upload it to YouTube.

AlwaysRight: Posted: April 28, 2014 8:12 p.m.

And, dang it, you kids stay off my lawn!

ricketzz: Posted: April 29, 2014 6:18 a.m.

TV is for idiots. The airwaves that count are the ones that permeate cars on the daily commute and the opinions heard there are all on one side; that is abuse of the commons. TV is for idiots.

ricketzz: Posted: April 30, 2014 7:13 a.m.

Businesses that advertise on the Public Airwaves write-off the cost of advertising on their taxes. I get to help pick up the slack. I am being forced by the government to subsidize hate speech and to keep incompetent broadcasters in business. This is a legalized seizure of my money to be used against me. America is as dead as Dillinger.

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