Country Artists Decry Consolidation

The FCC held a second public hearing on the contentious issue of media consolidation December 11th in Nashville. Commissioners listened to testimony from indie-radio reps, publishers, media experts, songwriters and a host of country artists including George Jones, Naomi Judd and Porter Wagoner.

Jones told the commission that he and his fans have suffered under tighter playlists that are often determined by a relative few with little knowledge of country music history, adding “We don’t need to make a move any further in the wrong direction.”

Wagoner lamented the difficulties faced by new artists trying to get their music on the air, telling commissioners, “The days of an artist receiving airplay as a new act are gone.

“If media ownership rules back in 1967 were like they are today, the world may never have known a lady named Dolly Parton,” he added. “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.”

The FCC plans to use information gathered from the hearings to help it determine whether or not to revise ownership rules pushed through by former FCC Chairman Michael Powell in 2003. The greatly loosened rules were later overruled by a federal appeals court in Philadelphia on the grounds that the FCC did not compile sufficient data to justify them.