What the report found was that radio was vastly dominated by conservative talk shows:
-- In the spring of 2007, of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative, and only 9 percent was progressive.
-- Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk --- 10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.
-- 76 percent of the news/talk programming in the top 10 radio markets is conservative, while 24 percent is progressive.
But really, did any of us really need a report to tell us this? Conservatives listen to radio talk shows, no big surprise there. I'm sure if you broke down NPR's listener base, the majority would be liberal.
But the real surprise in the report was their proposed solution to this perceived imbalance:
-Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations.
-Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.
-Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee.
They reject that this is a result of the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. They argue that the FD was actually not repealed, but instead, the FCC decided to no longer enforce certain aspects. Thus, the government still has the authority to begin enforcing the doctrine, at their will.
They also reject the argument that this is a result of market demand:
This argument is misleading on numerous fronts. Although talk radio audiences tend to be more male, middle-aged, and conservative, research by Pew indicates that this audience is not monolithic--- 43 percent of regular talk radio listeners identify as conservative, while 23 percent identify as liberal and 30 percent as moderate. 16 The ideological breakdown of the country as a whole during this same period was very similar---36 percent conservative,
21 percent liberal, and 35 percent moderate. It is difficult to argue that the existing audience for talk radio is only interested in hearing one side of public debates given the diversity of the existing and potential audience.
However, this is where I take issue with their findings.
This has EVERYTHING to do with market demand! You can't throw out this argument "Oh well the country isn't a majority conservative, so the breakdown of listeners shouldn't be a majority of conservatives." Because the truth is, radio is still a business, and what's popular, is what sells and gets on the air. The Pew Institute did a study of the break down of listeners to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Air America.
-20% of Rush Limbaugh listeners identified themselves as liberal. 30% of O'Rielly listeners identified themselves as liberal. And 85% of Air America listeners identified themselves as liberal.
The same institute found that 35% of NBC's "West Wing" watchers were Republicans.
People watch and listen to these programs because they WANT too. Regardless of their political affiliation. For whatever reason they're entertained by these radio personalities. Liberal shows - for example Air America - have had their shot. They simply DON'T SELL.
Who are we to dictate to companies how they should organize their programs? Radio is a venue that conservatives turn too. So what? If a radio show catering to liberal outlooks is put on the air - they have an equal opportunity to succeed. All they need to do is attract listeners, and hold on to them.
We need to remember, it's OPPORTUNITY to succeed in life that is guaranteed. Success, itself, is not.