Progressive radio host Ed Schultz appeared on MSNBC last night to discuss the new report by the Center for American Progress and Free Press, which revealed the conservative monopoly that currently exists over talk radio.
Schultz — the host of the most popular progressive radio show in the country — debunked the right-wing myth that conservatives dominate simply because they are winning in a “free market.” Schultz explained that the market is being controlled by a few ownership groups that are forcing conservative talk shows into local markets:
I beat Sean Hannity in Denver. I beat him in Seattle. I beat him in Portland. I beat in San Diego. How many markets do I have to beat Hannity in before I get 200 or 300 stations? It’s an ownership issue. … The fact is, it’s market opportunities and liberal talkers, progressive talkers are being held to a totally different standard than conservatives.
John Halpin — one of the principal authors of the radio report — noted that there is no “free market” under the current system. “There is little free speech or free choice in a market system that pushes out one-sided information 90 percent of the time on the radio,” he said. “Radio stations are licensed to operate in the public interest. Promoting one point of view over all others does not meet any reasonable public-interest standard.”
SCHULTZ: When you are talking about the spoken word, it influences a lot of people and it influences election in this country. There is no question. We are talking about market opportunities. Right now the liberal progressive format in this country — we are all fighting over the same 100 stations. Michael, I offer to you that ownership is an issue.
There are conservative broadcast companies in this country that do not broadcast one single second of liberal talk radio.
SMERCONISH: But Ed, I have to tell you something —
SMERCONISH: CBS would fire me in the morning and replace me with a communist if that communist would get them more revenue. It’s all about the scratch.
SCHULTZ: That’s not true. Michael, that is not true. I have got one of the top talk shows in Seattle, and I am only on one station in the country with Infinity. That’s not true. We are not being given the fair market opportunity.
SMERCONISH: I just don’t see it that way. I think it’s totally demand driven. And if were there a demand for whatever the program happened to be, believe me, they would put it on the air, because all they want to do is sell advertising and there is nothing wrong with that.
SCHULTZ: You know, Michael that’s almost insulting me. I beat Sean Hannity in Denver. I beat him in Seattle. I beat him in Portland. I beat in San Diego. How many markets do I have to beat Hannity in before I get 200 or 300 stations? It’s an ownership issue. Salem Radio, Infinity does one, ABC owns Hannity. It comes down to ownership. Actually, Clear Channel has been better than any of them.
The fact is, it’s market opportunities and liberal talkers, progressive talkers are being held to a totally different standard than conservatives.