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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2007
As a participant in the "media reform movement" who has witnessed and participated in the events Klinenberg describes, I found his observations accurate and his analysis penetrating. I have full review on my professional blog. To give the teaser:

Anyone who wants to understand the media reform movement should buy this book. More importantly, this is the book to give your friends and relatives so that they can understand why the media reform movement matters, and why it will succeed in transforming the media landscape despite the multi-billion dollar forces arrayed against it.

Others have written excellent books on the rise of media concentration and why it sucks rocks. What makes Fighting for Air different, and therefore a must read, is that it chronicles the history of the media reform *movement*. Certainly you will understand by the end of the book why media concentration has inspired a movement of people dedicated to stopping further consolidation and reversing the effects of our increasingly centralized and homogenized media. But this realization comes through the telling of the stories of the movement -- its people, its victories, and its set backs.
[...]
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2007
Dr. Klinenberg has provided a valuable service to Americans in his excellent historical and sociological study of media consolidation, its implications for access, content, and justice at both the national and local levels, and the growing movement to challenge consolidation. The work is a model of scholarship for a mass audience, meticulously documenting both the secondary literature and the extensive interviews Klinenberg has conducted with numerous industry and movement figures, while losing none of the immediacy of a compelling narrative and persuasive argument. Clearly and concisely Klinenberg marshals a compelling case.

My only criticism is that a more extensive discussion of the political economy of consolidation and its wider context in the US and international economies, and a more detailed critique of the failed libertarian economic paradigm which was used to sell consolidation to policymakers would be useful. But that would be asking for a much longer and more complicated book, and one which would probably not have done as admirable a job in explaining in simple and direct terms the complexities of consolidation and its dreadful consequences of American public life.

I recommend Fighting for Air as essential reading for anyone who wants to understand this vital area of public policy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The genie is out of the bottle. Over the past 15 years our radio and television stations, newspapers and magazines have been gobbled up by a handful of media conglomerates. Turn on the radio in just about any city in this nation and you will hear the same tired and unimaginative programming. Local content has largely been eliminated on a good many of these stations and the number of commercials has increased dramatically. In many of our largest cities media companies are allowed to operate up to 8 radio stations, 3 televisions stations, cable TV service and even the local newspaper. It is an alarming state of affairs to say the least! In his new book "Fighting For Air: The Battle To Control America's Media" author Eric Klinenberg brings these critical issues to our attention. While the American public has been asleep at the switch our President, the Congress and those who are supposed to regulate such matters have allowed companies like Clear Channel, Entercom, Citadel and Infinity to gobble up our local media. If you have grown tired of all of the canned programming and recognize the importance that local media outlets have played throughout American history then this is a book you should definitely consider.

So how did this happen? Over the past two decades our government has been "deregulating" media. At one time, no company was allowed to own more than one television station in a community. The number of radio stations were also strictly regulated. And the FCC would never have allowed a company that owned a major daily newspaper to own a television station in the same town. All of this began to change in the 1980's as broadcasters cried poverty and declared that they were having a difficult time turning a profit. There was some truth to this claim, particularly for small to medium size AM radio stations. Broadcasters petitioned to have ownership restrictions relaxed and as you will see the deregulation of our media began in earnest in the late 80's. Perhaps the most dramatic and controversial measure was the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In one fell swoop Congress and the FCC eliminated the national station ownership limit altogether and raised local limits from four to as many as eight radio stations in some communities. As a result of this legislation, Clear Channel now controls more than 1200 local radio stations in the United States. A funny thing happened as local radio and television stations were gobbled up by the media giants...local programming began to disappear. The change is most noticable on the radio where thousands of local hosts have been let go. Talk shows that used to focus on local issues have been replaced by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. And that guy giving you the weather on your local TV station may be based in a city hundreds or maybe even thousands of miles from your town.

Eric Klinenberg does an outstanding job of framing these issues for his readers. There is so much at stake here. It matters not your political persuasion. Each and every one of us has lost something precious. It is high time that the American people began to fight back! "Fighting For Air: The Battle To Control America's Media" is a great way to educate yourself about these extremely important issues. But we face an uphill fight. For obvious reasons you will never hear or see these issues discussed and debated on the major networks nor will you see them written about in the major newspapers in this country. Once you understand this, you will then begin to realize why so many Americans are convinced that the short-sighted and irresponsible consolidation of the media should rank as the top issue in the upcoming election. We must demand accountability from our elected officials. This is a comprehensive and well written book and one that I can highly recommend!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2007
FIGHTING FOR AIR: THE BATTLE TO CONTROL AMERICA'S MEDIA examines how national radio shows are adjusted to 'sound local', how the media consolidation is hurting America, and how in fact there is a vanishing case for local representation in the media. The author's interviewed many programming directors, DJs, reporters and more for this book surveying the politics and presence of media conglomerates, FCC and legal influences on media regulations and ownership, and how stories are promoted or killed by special interests. Any college-level course in media studies needs this.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
EASY GO! That is a tag line for the players in Las Vegas. It is also a tag line for the press when it comes to democracy. In other words, the bottom line is democracy is too expensive.

The accountants, marketers, & investment bamkers have stormed the newsrooms and hijacked its mission - there is NO LONGER THE ILLUSION THAT PUBLIC SERVICE IS THERE FIRST MISSION. IT has become instead a mission to establish local momopolies. Jack up advertising rates, downsize the editorial staffs( & where possible, break up unions), shrink news rooms.

News is actually commentary and entertaiment, not local reporting. What used to be a public trust is now just a cash cow.

What has been lost for the citizen is what A.J. Liebling, legendary press critic, called diversity in ownership that promotes competition, creates opportunities for smaller companies, local business people, creative programming, and in its stead, no public benefit. In short its the journalism, not the news print, that should be the bottom line.

Now they are going after the internet spreading THE LIE that new technology has rendered the changes of internet consolidation obsolite. Net Neutality is in the fascist's crosshairs.

Speaking of Michael Powell, who never met a merger he did'nt like, or monopoloy for that matter; the public be damned was his attitude.

In short the checks & balances made possible by diverse competition are being eradicated. When it all comes down to it there will be 2 or 3 companies that essentially own access to our culture. It will be impossible to break up as THOSE MONOPOLIES WILL BE SO POLITICALLY POWERFULL AND WILLING TO SPEND UNGODLY AMOUNTS OF $$$ - THAT NO GOVERNMENT COULD STAND UP TO THEM.

Highly Recommended
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on September 18, 2014
Book looks and feels brand new. Got the book for a class and barely have time to read it. Likely will sell it once school out.
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on October 23, 2014
Captivating read, starts out with a vivid and interesting narrative.
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on June 9, 2015
This book is in very good condition .
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2013
I was required to read this book for an advanced level communications class. I found the book boring and dull. It's a rather strangely detailed book that highlights landmark events in the timelines of Radio, Newspaper and Broadcast News. There is no plot line, no story whatsoever.
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5 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Klinenberg warns us that after the 1996 Telecommunications Act eliminated the national station ownership limit and raised local station ownership limits from 4 to as high as 8, "in two years media companies reduced the number of individual owners by 700" (about 14%). Doesn't seem like much to worry about - I only wish they had reduced the number of commercials by at least a like amount.

As for the potential harm caused by consolidation, the best Klinenberg could do is cite a story involving a toxic train spill near Minot, N.D. in which authorities could not quickly utilize local Clear Channel radios to broadcast warnings (no staff were on site) - so they utilized two other stations and had to wait about 20 minutes for a Clear Channel to drive in for the others.

Not worth reading.
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