NASHVILLE, TN (December 11, 2006) – Providing examples of the negative effects of consolidation of media ownership on their careers and the public’s ability to hear their favorite music, recording artists and songwriters testified today on behalf of members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists at the Federal Communications Commission public hearing on media ownership.
George Jones, Porter Wagoner, Dobie Gray, and Craig Wiseman were among the AFTRA members speaking before the FCC.
Country music icon George Jones said, “I can play to packed houses in Europe and have made recordings with everyone from Ray Charles to Keith Richards, as well as today’s top country artists, many of whom I consider to be a part of my family as a son or daughter. However, the consolidation of the radio industry has kept me from being played on the radio. It has kept me from earning my full potential as a country artist and has denied my fans and the American public the opportunity to hear my music. Corporate based decisions in the music industry are nothing more than the opinions and decisions of a few people at the top, but their opinions dictate the operations of thousands of radio stations and that of the American public.”
Click here to read Jones’s prepared statement>>
Grand Ole Opry star Porter Wagoner explained, “If media ownership rules back in 1967 were like they are today, the world may never have known a lady named Dolly Parton. Not only did I have the freedom and control to introduce Dolly as a regular performer on my television show, but back then, radio was much friendlier to new recording artists. Dolly’s first hit ‘Jolene’ became a country hit that crossed into the pop charts. The chance of this happening to an Artist in today’s media consolidated world is ‘slim to none’.”
Click here to read Wagoner’s prepared statement>>
Soul, country, and pop recording artist Dobie Gray said, “I had my first chart hit in 1963 with ‘Look at Me.’ In 1965, I recorded ‘The In Crowd,’ which was a huge hit for me. Then in 1973, I recorded probably my biggest hit ever, ‘Drift Away.’ I’m still recording and releasing albums but it's harder now to get my music played. In many ways I think this is because radio has changed so dramatically.”
Click here to read Gray’s prepared statement>>
Also testifying on behalf of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, songwriter Craig Wiseman said, “The homogeneous programming that has resulted from radio consolidation limits opportunities for songwriters, artists, and listeners alike. Country music stations are being cut all over the country – Los Angeles lost its only country radio station earlier this year – and yet it is the only genre to enjoy an increase in sales: country music sales increased by 14% in 2006 while all others dropped by 10 to 14%.”
Click here to read Wiseman’s prepared statement>>
The testimony today continued the effort by AFTRA members to document to the FCC that the consolidation of media ownership by giant corporations eliminates diverse and local sources of news, music, and entertainment programming.
In comments to the FCC at its hearing on media ownership on Oct. 3 in Los Angeles, AFTRA National President John Connolly said, “Consolidation affects all AFTRA members, whether they are local or network newspersons, actors in television programs or commercials, or recording artists as royalty artists or background singers.”