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Air Wars: The War Over Public Broadcasting Hardcover – May 19, 2000

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the time of its conception in the early 1950s, public television was designed to provide educational programming independent of government and commercial pressures. But cutbacks in federal funding, unwise and unnecessary reliance on corporate funding, pressure from conservative interest groups and censorious government actions have reduced many public television stations to a flickering vestige of their original promise. In this stirring book, Starr, an activist and award-winning sociologist, provides a rigorous analysis of the U.S. media and the decline of public television, as well as a step-by-step handbook for community activists who wish to reclaim local television and radio stations. Arguing that public television is needed more than ever in this era of corporate consolidation--when "[fewer] than 10 corporations control more than half of all communications enterprises: CDs, books, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and motion pictures"--Starr recounts his own community's successful efforts to take back control of Pittsburgh's WQED, one of the first and most respected public television stations. With the drive and energy of "true life" Hollywood expos?s like The Insider, Starr chillingly details how government officials have targeted public television (for example, President Nixon declared war on public TV after learning that a critic of his Vietnam policy was hosting a PBS show) and how the United States has consistently lost alternative and independent news sources over the past three decades. Unabashedly populist in tone and intent, Starr's work is not only a model of American idealism and community organizing, but an engrossing narrative as well. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Sociology professor and self-styled community activist Starr explains how the originally commercial-free, not-for-profit public broadcasting system turned out to be so much like the commercial-laden, for-profit television networks seen today. In response, he is devoting much of his life to running an organization called Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, which demands more highbrow programming, a minimum of middlebrow programming, and an elimination of lowbrow television programs. Air Wars is not an easy book to read because of its schizophrenic organization and style. It is actually several books advertised as one: an omniscient skeptic's turgidly written, third-person history of public television starring institutional entities; a much livelier first-person account of how Starr and colleagues shook up the public broadcasting establishment in Pittsburgh; and a primer for reformers in any city. Recommended for academic libraries and for public libraries in cities where public broadcasting is a hot issue.DSteve Weinberg, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First Printing Stated. edition (May 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807042102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807042106
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,545,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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This book contains a blend of history, opinion, and a well researched guide through the charter of public television and the struggles of WQED. The author's understanding and well articulated description of the origins of Public Broadcasting are excellent. His grasp of the intentions and early delivery of public television clearly are the best parts of the book. I interviewed several of the people in the book to understand their memory of events covered by the author. It is an understatement to say this is a narrow and repetitive view of WQED's early 1990's history. The author clearly states his case and perspective, so I take nothing away from the integrity of his position.
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