The PICAN Having Not So Much To Do With Pies But Much With The Fairness Doctrine And Bruce Springsteen

Public

Interest

Convenience

And

Necessity.

PICAN. That was the intended purpose of broadcasting back in the dawn of the radio and TV era. That everyone would have equal access and opportunity to watch news, sports, and entertainment. And coupled with the Fairness Doctrine, news would be as unbiased as possible, showing different sides to an issue.

That’s what I was told in my first broadcasting classes back in the early ’80s. Later in the decade, the cable companies, Wall Street, and Reagan’s cronies decided otherwise. The Fairness Doctrine was repealed. And somewhere along the line, the rules about how many outlets per market could be owned by a given company (back at the dawn of time in my freshman year, it was any combination of papers, radio and TV stations totaling up to seven) were blurred or obliterated. So much for balance and diversity.

And now we have Fifty Seven Channels and Nothing’s On thanks to cable and dish providers. Well, more like a couple of hundred in some localities. How many of these channels serve the PICAN is beyond me. Some of the channels I wouldn’t mind, such as Starz for their adaptations of Philippa Gregory’s novels about the Plantagent dynasty, or HBO for “Game of Thrones.” But pay for programming with no redeeming value like “Honey Boo Boo” or propaganda like certain news outlets? No. That was never supposed to be part of the plan.

There are times when cable is needed. My paternal grandmother lived in western Massachusetts in a pretty small town about six miles south of the Vermont border. Between the remoteness and the mighty shielding power of the granite mountains, any kind of decent  over the air TV signal was an impossibility. With the help of (very) basic cable, she could get the stations from Albany (40 miles south), Boston (three hours east) and New York (about three and a half hours southeast). It provided her with news, entertainment, and her Red Sox games. I think we had a choice of twelve channels. Gram mostly filled her days by reading the paper, visiting her friends and relatives within walking distance. TV was limited to her quiz shows and a handful of series. That’s all she needed.

That was back in the ’70s. The ’80s opened up a wild west of commercial broadcasting options, and not all for the better. Not unless you’re an ad agency or a retailer looking to brainwash consumers. Convenient, yes, but at a high price to one’s purse from the pressure to buy, psyche, and the environment.

We–Hubby and I–don’t need much more ourselves than what Gram had. With just our converter box and antenna, we get PBS, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, WGN, and a slew of indie outlets and substations. There are two classic movie channels we enjoy. One of the substations runs “Star Trek” six nights a week. We invest in DVDs of our favorite programs. We both have channels we like on YouTube. Sometimes when nothing appeals to me, I do this really crazy thing called READING A BOOK.

In this post-PICAN and Fairness Doctrine world, making deliberate, conscious choices takes on new importance. Do your research on broadcasting options in your area, and choose wisely.

I know I’ve posted this before, but I feel like it’s time to revisit John Denver’s cover of “Spanish Pipedream (Blow Up Your TV)” again.  Somehow, it just seems to fit.

 

 

 

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Creating a Retreat in a Few Easy Steps

OldDesignShop_RubiesFrByronCottage.jpg

I could live here.  (Image courtesy Old Design Shop)

Would you like to come in? We could sip iced tea and enjoy strawberry shortcake made with biscuits–baking powder, not drop ones–and topped with whipped cream while conversing about books, pets, gardening, and period films. If we disagree, then we would agree to do so and move on to a topic of true importance such as chocolate. Or perhaps have dinner at the pine trestle table served on plain white dishes. Something good and peasant-y, like coq au vin. Of course we would have a crusty loaf and a robust red to go with, or iced tea if you were inclined away from alcohol. Dessert? How does mousse au chocolate sound?

Today seems as good as any to move there. I grow weary of the political vitriol and stories of animal abuse on social media. The campus shooting du jour unfolds as I type this. (Google “UCLA shooting.” I don’t want to give it any more energy.) It is a good day to create a retreat.

“Retreat” usually carries religious/spiritual connotations, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be such. You can create a temporary haven from the outside world fairly easily:

  • Heed the advice of John Prine in his song “Spanish Pipedream”. OK, just turn it off. (yes, this is the John Denver version.)  At the very least, stop watching the news. For tune-age, find internet streams or stations that don’t blast news.
  • Limit time on social media and don’t read comment threads on news sites. Even the threads on NPR are getting trolled and their moderators don’t seem to be doing very much.The amount of ugly out there is overwhelming.
  • This might sound weird, but if you can get your dwelling in order–a little dusting, a bit of decluttering–it might make things a little more restful.
  • Take a few minutes in the morning to read something inspiring. You’ll be in a better frame of mind.

Now, would you like some lemon with your tea?

 

 

The Need to Carry On

It finally started thawing here yesterday. We have another round of something slushy late tonight or tomorrow morning, but it should melt quickly. John Denver said it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOonHGpHLms

And do you care what’s happening around you? Do your senses know the changes when they come? Can you see yourself reflected in the seasons? Can you understand the need to carry on? 

We’re about two weeks out from the primary for governor here in Illinois. I can’t get excited about any of the candidates on either side. Governor Quinn took over when Rod Blagojevich was impeached. I’ll likely vote Green Party unless something really drastic happens. Otherwise, it’s a question of Coke or Pepsi.

Right now, we desperately need legislators who will take stands on a couple of important environmental issues. One involves a proposed fracking operation downstate. The other involves pit mining near Starved Rock State Park, about forty-five minutes west of me. The only thing that will come of either is pollution and birth defects. In my lifetime, there has been fire where Lake Erie literally caught on fire; Three Mile Island; and this winter, the Elk River poisoning. It pains me that nothing has been learned by this. 

There’s also the need to stand up to Monsanto and how they are poisoning the food supply. The Greens do not accept corporate contributions, which assures me that they are not in the pockets of the people who brought us Roundup. We know personally of several farm families that have been ravaged by cancer or neurological problems that can’t be explained by modern medicine. Enough, already.

In all honesty, yes, I am tired. I fully comprehend and understand the need to carry on. I’ve been fighting this since I was in upper elementary grades. Discreetly, because when one is raised by a parent who makes Ronald Reagan look like Bernie Sanders, that’s what you do. I am hurting from seeing the gains made in environmental protection thrown out in the name of lining a donor’s pockets.

I’ll tell you what. I’m going to have a little nap for the fatigue and lots of chocolate for the soul. And I will see you at the computer later and at the voting booth on March 18 and in November.