Monday, December 24, 2007




23 TV stations--Major carrier of the CW Network, which is owned by CBS and Time-Warner

1 radio station in Chicago

13 daily newspapers mostly in big markets

1 nationwide cable channel-WGN

According to wikipedia:

The Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB) is a large American multimedia corporation based in Chicago, Illinois. It is the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher, responsible for the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Hartford Courant, and the Baltimore Sun, among others. Through other subsidiaries, the Tribune Company also owns Tribune Broadcasting, Tribune Entertainment, Tribune Media Services, and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

On April 2, 2007, Chicago-based investor Sam Zell announced plans to buy out the media company for $34.00 a share, totalling $8.2 billion. Zell will also turn the company private. The deal is expected to be completed some time in the fourth quarter of 2007[1], and was approved by 97% of the Company's shareholders on August 21, 2007[2]. Upon completion of the transaction, Tribune will divest itself of the Chicago Cubs and its 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and possibly Wrigley Field.

The deal was approved by 97% of the Company's shareholders on August 21, 2007.[1] Privatization of the Tribune Company occurred on December 20, 2007 with termination of trading in Tribune stock at the close of the market.[2]

On 21 December 2007, Tribune and Local TV announced plans to collaborate in the formation of an as yet unnamed "broadcast management company".[3]


CW Stations:
WPIX 11 - New York
KTLA 5 - Los Angeles
WGN 9 - Chicago (Tribune's flagship TV station)
KDAF 33 - Dallas
WDCW 50 - Washington
KHCW 39 - Houston
WSFL 39 - Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
KWGN 2 - Denver
WTTV 4 - Bloomington/Indianapolis
KSWB 69 - San Diego
WTXX 20 - Waterbury/Hartford/New Haven
WNOL 38 - New Orleans
KPLR 11 - St. Louis
KRCW 32 - Portland, OR

Fox Stations:
KCPQ 13 - Tacoma/Seattle
KTXL 40 - Sacramento
WXIN 59 - Indianapolis
WTIC 61 - Hartford/New Haven
WXMI 17 - Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, MI
WPMT 43 - York/Harrisburg, PA

ABC Station:
WGNO 26 - New Orleans

MyNetworkTV Stations:
WPHL 17 - Philadelphia
KMYQ 22 - Tacoma/Seattle

Other TV Assets:

Tribune Entertainment
Mutant X
Family Feud
South Park
Soul Train
Candid Camera
Ron Hazelton: House Calls
Pet Keeping City Guys
Earth: Final Conflict

Cable Channels:
Superstation WGN

Chicagoland's Television

Tribune Broadcasting

Once owned 1/3rd of the Food Network, but it’s now owned by Scripps co.

Radio WGN (AM) – Chicago


Newsday (Long Island, NY)
Los Angeles Times
Chicago Tribune
The Redeye
Baltimore Sun
AM New York
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
The Hartford Courant
The Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
Daily Press (Newport News, VA)
The Advocate (Stamford, CT)--sold 2007
Greenwich Time (CT)--sold 2007
Hoy (newspaper)
El Sentinel (Orlando)


Chicago Cubs (and Wrigley Field)

Tribune Media Services

Classified Ventures, LLC (partial)

CareerBuilder (partial)

Brass Ring


Chicago magazine

Channel Guide Magazine

Former Tribune Properties:


(Station and Market | Former and Current Affiliations | Sold to...)
WATL, Atlanta, GA | WB/MyNet | Sold to Gannett Corporation in 2006
WCWN, Albany, NY | WB/CW | Sold to Freedom Communications in 2006
WGCL (formerly WGNX), Atlanta, GA | Ind./CBS | traded to Meredith Corporation in 1999 WLVI, Boston, MA | WB/CW | Sold to Sunbeam Television in 2006

-10/2007 Time Media sells the Recycler Classifieds to Target Media Partners. Recycler publishes 4 ad papers, and 11 weekly or bi-weekly photo ad and employment guides in Southern California.

-10/2007 The Tribune Company sells its two southern Connecticut daily papers, the Greenwich Time and The Advocate of Stamford, to Hearst Corp. for $62.4 million. The papers will be managed by MediaNews Group.

Murdoch Deals Some of his TV Empire to Affiliate of the Tribune Company



Tribune is the major carrier of the CW Network, which is the joint venture of CBS and Time-Warner. Tribune now owns 23 major market TV stations. After this series of deals, Tribune will take over management of 17 more.

Rupert Murdoch will still own 2 TV stations each in L.A., New York City, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Orlando, Washington D.C. and one station in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Tampa, Baltimore, Austin, Memphis, Winston-Salem and Ocala-Gainesville Florida.

News Corp. sells 8 Fox stations

Cory Bergman December 22nd, 2007

News Corp. has sold eight of its 35 stations to Oak Hill Partners, a private equity firm. The stations sold are: WJW (Cleveland), KDVR (Denver), WGHP (Greensboro), KTVI (St. Louis), WDAF (Kansas City), WITI (Milwaukee), KSTU (Salt Lake) and WBRC (Birmingham). Oak Hill already owns 9 other stations under the name Local TV LLC, and the WSJ reports that the day-to-day operations of all the stations may fall to Tribune. After all, Local TV’s top exec was just hired by Sam Zell to take over Tribune’s broadcast and internet operations.

Fox sells eight TV stations to Oak Hill

News Corp. had made good on its promise to sell eight of its Fox TV stations, and it did to the newly-formed Local TV group headed by private equity firm Oak Hill Partners for $1.1 billion. The proceeds from the sale gives News Corp. the cash it needs to purchase the Wall Street Journal.

In a separate development, Tribune and Oak Hill have agreed to create a third-party management company that will share administrative duties. Randy Michaels, who was CEO of Local TV, was named Thursday as CEO of Tribune Broadcasting and Tribune Interactive.

The eight stations being sold are: WJW-TV in Cleveland, KDVR-TV in Denver, KTVI in St. Louis, WDAF-TV in Kansas City, WITI-TV in Milwaukee, KSTU in Salt Lake City, WBRC-TV in Birmingham, and WGHP-TV in Greensboro-High Point, N.C.

Six of these stations - WJW, KTVI, WDAF, WITI, WBRC, and WGHP - were former affiliates of the Big Three networks that were involved in the New World-Fox affiliation switch in 1994 and 1995. New World Communications sold all but two of its stations to Fox in 1997.

Local TV launched earlier this year when it made a deal to acquire eight former New York Times Co. stations, including WREG-TV (CBS) in Memphis, KFOR-TV (NBC) in Oklahoma City, WNEP-TV (ABC) in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa., and WQAD-TV (ABC) in Moline, IL.

The transaction leaves Fox with 26 stations (for now - the fate of WHBQ in Memphis is still undetermined), including WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV in Chicago.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Boo Hoo!...Media Giants Say Anti-Monopoly Rules Governing the Public-Owned, but Corporate-Occupied Airwaves are Them

Feds bottle caps
Congloms prep deals as end to regs looms


WASHINGTON -- The forecast for the next wave of media consolidation got friendlier Friday when a federal appeals court sent strong signals that it will allow networks and the congloms who own them to add unprecedented numbers of TV stations and cable systems to their empires. Reps of the mega-companies that dominate the entertainment biz were present -- and smiling -- during oral arguments before a three-judge appellate panel in the nation's capital. Ultimately, the court's ruling could reshape the TV biz in terms of who controls both programming and distribution. It didn't take long for the robes to begin questioning the merits and constitutionality of two Federal Communications Commission ownership rules underpinning the historic balance between nets and affiliates, as well as the historic tension between broadcasters and cablers.

"You're in a jam," said Judge Harry Edwards to FCC general counsel Grey Pash. CBS, Fox and NBC want the court to scrap an FCC cap that blocks a broadcaster from reaching more than 35% of the national audience.

Counsel for the nets told the appeals court that the FCC reg is "oppressive" and a violation of the First Amendment. "Every day this rule is in effect, we are being deprived of reaching 65% of the nation's households" said Edward Warren, attorney for the Eye, Fox and Peacock.

Already, CBS parent company Viacom is at about 40%. Fox is likewise over the cap due to its recent merger with Chris Craft. Affiliates, i.e., independent station owners, argue that the rule is their last defense against the power of the networks, and that the nets shouldn't be allowed to dominate both programming and distribution. Should the 35% cap be lifted, networks will use their leverage and might to determine compensation and to buy up stations, according to the National Affiliated Stations Alliance (NASA) and the National Broadcasters Assn. (NAB). While most attention has been focused on the 35% rule, the second FCC ownership reg up before the appeals court is of equal significance. As it stands now, the FCC won't allow a broadcaster to operate a cable system in the same market. Thus, congloms like AOL Time Warner can't get into the lucrative business of operating a TV station in any of the many markets where they provide cable service. Another good example is the Walt Disney Co., which would have to dump stations in certain major markets if it wanted to pursue a merger with a cable giant such as Comcast. (While the Mouse isn't a direct party in the appeals case, top Disney lobbyist Preston Padden made sure to be on hand Friday.) During the much-anticipated hearing, AOL Time Warner general counsel Paul Cappuccio told the court that the cross-ownership cable/broadcast rule equals "ongoing suppression" and "irreparable harm."

Pash bashing?

But the three appellate robes reserved most of their questioning for FCC counsel Pash, who didn't seem to make much headway in arguing that overturning the rules would have "enormous adverse consequences." The judges said it would be more than appropriate for the court to strike the ownership rules, but let the FCC draw up new limits -- this time, with adequate justification. Consumer advocates say remanding the rules to the FCC would be tantamount to overturning them altogether, since Republican FCC topper Michael Powell has made it clear that he favors deregulation. Others disagree and say that now that he heads the regulatory agency, Powell must take a more centrist position compared to that he maintained previously as just a commissioner.

Nonetheless, it was difficult for affiliates to appreciate the witty barbs that punctuated much of Friday's legal session. "I don't mean to disturb the good humor, but please, hear me out," said attorney Bob Long, who argued for the NAB and NASA, which reps the more than 600 CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates.

Reach breach

Long said it was a "gross overstatement" for the networks to argue that they are being cut off from reaching 65% of the American audience, considering that nets reach virtually everyone through broadcast programming alone. What's more, companies like Viacom that own some of the nets provide vast cable programming.

But nets say the affiliates are crying wolf and that affils still enjoy enormous power, pointing out that some larger station groups, such as Tribune, are nearing the 35% limit themselves. In the competitive age of cable and satellite, networks say they shouldn't be barred from fully participating in the marketplace. Even before the oral arguments, the nets and AOL Time Warner were predicting success. Several months ago, the same appeals court struck down an FCC cable ownership rule prohibiting a cabler from reaching more than 30% of the national audience. FCC cap cast The FCC will soon launch a public probe into whether the cap should be kept in some fashion, but again, people are predicting that Powell will work toward deregulation. In the coming days, the FCC is expected to launch a similar probe into repealing a cross-ownership rule barring a broadcaster from owning a newspaper in the same major market. Powell is definitely opposed to this regulation. Meanwhile, the federal appeals court is expected to rule on the two ownership rules in the next few months.


It's not fairness

L.A. Times Editorial 7/24/2007

There are plenty of opinions on the airwaves; the government doesn't have to mandate equal time.

(Democrats) anger at (talk radio) demagoguery is justified, but their response isn't. They want to re­vive the Fairness Doctrine - a Cold War-era federal rule designed to promote balanced coverage of important isues on the public airwaves. Under this rule, broadcasters who took a side on a divisive topic could be compelled to give free airtime to opposing points of view. If they refused, they risked losing their licenses.

The threat to talk radio is clear. If the rule were reinstituted, stations that carry Rush Lim­baugh could be forced to broadcast commentaries favoring everything that Limbaugh derides, from greenhouse gas controls to same-sex marriage. With hundreds of provocative talk-show hosts on the air, federal regulators could soon be awash in demands for rebuttals.

But the danger posed by the Fairness Doc­ttrine Is broader and more fundamental than an attack on a radio format. No matter what your point of view might be, you have free or inexpensive out­lets available today to express It - maybe not a radio or TV station but certainly a website, a video blog, a podcast or an e-mail newsletter. At the same time, the public has unprecedented access to a diverse array of opinions. Just as the govern­ment shouldn't decide what you say on the chan­nels you create, nor should it be able to dictate the range of opinions people hear over the air.

The Federal Communications Commission instituted the Fairness Doctrine in the late 1940s as a compromise of sorts - it wanted broadcast­ers to pay attention to local issues but feared they would exert undue influence over them. It aban­doned the rule in 1987 on grounds that the rise of cable TV networks had diluted broadcasters' sway over public opinion. The proliferation of media sources has made that dilution even more pro­nounced today.

Granted, broadcasters remain the most pow­erful voices because they're the ones with the larg­est audiences. But that's because the public chooses to tune them in, not because there are no alternatives. Restoring the government's power to monitor broadcasters' fulminations and splice in opposing views seems more likely to tame speech than to enlighten listeners.


What can we own?

L.A. Times editorial, 8/25/2006

MEDIA COMPANIES IN THIS COUNTRY face unreasonable government restrictions on their activities. Yet for the Federal Communications Commission, rewriting the ownership limits for television and radio stations has been a labor fit for Sisyphus. The commission updates the rules every few years, as required by law, only to have a federal appeals court or Congress smack them down.

The latest go-round started when the Commission announced in June that it would reconsider some of its rules limiting what companies can own. The FCC had tried to ease or eliminate these limits in 2003, only to have its actions blocked by the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate, prodded by a motley alliance of anti-corporate zealots and conservative activists who think local media tycoons are less lib­eral than national media tycoons, also intervened.

Media ownership restraints seek to preserve a healthy competition of distinct voices, but the rules developed over the decades are woefully outdated. If anything, what the FCC tried to do three years ago was too modest. In an age of cable and satellite TV (not to mention an age of You Tube. com -It's no longer justifiable for the government to impose any limits on how many affiliates broadcast networks can own, given that CBS, NBC and ABC no longer control the distribution of their programming the way they did when American families gathered around their sets to watch "I Love Lucy," captured by their rabbit-ear antennas.

And yet the FCC only sought to raise the percent­age of the national audience that network-owned at affiliates can reach from 35% to 45%. This would have been a radical move - in 1960. Three years ago, It was laughably meek. After a compromise raised the limit to 39%, these rules aren't even on the table for review this time around.

A different set of rules limiting the number of me­dia outlets one company can own within the same city do remain relevant. Here again, the FCC was rather prudent in its ill-fated 2003 ruling. The Commission would have let TV groups control three sta­tions in markets with at least 18 outlets, and two sta­tions in markets with five to 17 outlets - although only one of the stations could be among the four most popular in that community. It also proposed to allow TV, radio and newspaper owners in a community to consolidate to varying degrees, depending on the number of TV stations in the market.

Full disclosure: Tribune Co., owner of this news­paper and KTLA-TV Channel 5, would benefit from a relaxation of these rules. Indeed, its purchase of The Times in 2000 was allowed because of the widespread assumption that the so-called cross-ownership rule banning ownership of a broadcast station and news­paper in the same city would soon be retired, as it should be.

More cities might still have a competitive news­paper market if more broadcasters had been allowed to buy newspapers in the past.

Studies show that those broadcasters that do operate local newspapers through waivers or exemptions offer more news and public affairs programs, on average, than competi­tors that don't. Moreover, the business challenges facing media giants such as Tribune and Time Warn­er Inc., which had hoped for greater "synergy" divi­dends, underscore the ever-changing media land­scape and the fact that Americans have a growing number of media choices. The number of people who regularly watch local TV news is down from 77% in 1993 to 54% today. It's in their interest that the FCC press ahead with liberalization.

(Editor's note. This claim that letting TV station operators also buy up daily newspapers will lead to a competitive newspaper market is totally bogus. In fact, only a few companies control most of California's daily newspaper subscribers.

See, for list showing that 40% of California daily newspapers are owned by one company, MediaNews Group, which is also partners with Hearst Corporation, a large owner of TV stations and cable TV channels. Two of the other largest daily paper owners in California, Tribune company and Freedom Communications also own lots of TV stations. With this control of California daily papers by TV station owners, you'd think that most towns would have two or more daily, competitive papers, based on the L.A. Times' logic. Not so. In fact, it's very hard to find a city in this state where one paper isn't totally dominant. )

Friday, November 30, 2007

U.S. Automakers Smell the Winds of Change. Will Builders of Gas Hogs and SUVs Change their Products or just to whom they send political donations?

Detroit 3 swing support to Dems

November 29, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Long a reliable contributor to Republican candidates and causes at the federal level, the auto industry is giving a lot less overall than it did four years ago but donating more of it to Democrats now that they hold majorities in Congress.

Republicans still get the lion's share of the money in this election cycle -- 67% from auto-related business, including dealers, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzed federal campaign records this fall.

But the amount contributed to federal candidates and parties -- $5.1 million -- is 20% less than in the same period in the last presidential election cycle, in 2003-04. In that cycle, Democrats got just 22% of the money contributed, compared with 33% so far this year.

The swing is even more pronounced when looking at Detroit's automakers.
From General Motors Corp., the split is an even 50-50 between the parties this year. Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC contributions have swung even more definitively to the Democratic side.

"What we now have is a year when it looks like this is likely to be a Democratic cycle, so it's not surprising we're starting to see some shift toward the Democrats," said Anthony Corrado, who studies campaign finance as a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution and as a professor at Maine's Colby College.

"You're seeing that not only in the auto industry but in other industries," he said.
That is borne out by the data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics and published on its Web site,

In a year when news reports have touted the Democrats' success in fund-raising, particularly in the presidential race, the data show many traditionally Republican sectors leaning more Democratic this year.

The securities and investment business, for instance, hasn't gone for Democrats in a presidential cycle since 1992. This year, however, 61% of its money is going to Democrats. The trend also is apparent in the real estate industry and among health professionals.

Meanwhile, other industries -- like automotive -- may still be in the Republicans' corner overall, but some are giving less. Those giving more, like the oil and gas industry, aren't keeping pace with the increases from traditionally Democratic givers like nonprofit institutions and education interests.

Lawyers and law firms, traditionally the largest federal donor by sector and one that strongly leans Democratic, has increased giving 52%, to $76.4 million, this year -- with 77% going to Democrats.

The UAW, a staunch Democratic giver, has contributed $436,410, fourth among industrial unions, with nearly all of it going to Democrats. The UAW total is not included with the auto sector in overall calculations.

When compiling its data, the Center for Responsive Politics not only counts contributions made by political action committees tied to an industry trade group or corporation, but also tallies donations of $200 or more made by anyone who lists his or her occupation or employer as part of the industry.

For example, Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, has collected more than $9,000 in individual donations from top managers at GM, Ford and Chrysler and leads recipients from automakers as a group, with more than $111,000 in contributions so far.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with $357,250, leads all recipients in the industry as a whole. Four years ago, President George W. Bush led automakers and the industry as a whole.

In the automotive sector, none of the Detroit Three is the biggest donor overall, however. That would be the National Auto Dealers Association, since at least 1990.

The NADA remains reliably Republican, but this year it has been giving less -- $709,750 compared with $865,800 in the first nine months of 2003. The money has been split 39% to Democrats and 61% to Republicans, a slight change from the 31%-69% split four years ago.
The big change with the Detroit Three has been in the Democrat-Republican split.

GM's donations, now an even split, went 54% to Republicans in the first nine months of 2003 and a wider margin, 65%, to the GOP by the end of that cycle.

Ford, which sent 66% of its donations to Republicans at this point four years ago and ended the cycle with a slightly larger share for the GOP, has sent 60% of its contributions to Democrats this year.

Four years ago, 61% of Chrysler donations went to GOP campaigns and parties; this year, Democrats have gotten 55%.

Contributions from Detroit's automakers as a group have come down slightly, from $908,489 in the first nine months of 2003 to $881,831 this year. The decline is attributable to a huge drop in Ford's giving; the others have increased contributions somewhat.

When asked about the change, GM spokesman Greg Martin said, "PAC spending generally reflects the election cycle, political party shifts on Capitol Hill and similar considerations."
Bruce Andrews, Ford's vice president of government relations in Washington, said his company's giving with its PAC is down, but the company is smaller, too.

"Our policy has always been to support those members who support us," he said.
Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said that "voters and industries are pushing back against Republicans which have failed to address major problems like health care."
Biggest Wastes Of Space
They are famous simply for being famous ... Time magazine took a look at who are the biggest wastes of space of 2007, and picked ...

Paris Hilton: "All she seems to do is keep very small dogs, dance her way around the world's nightclubs and get arrested for driving offenses. She spends the rest of her time dating multimillionaire shipping magnates or having public fights with other celeb-nobodies, What a gal!"

Lindsay Lohan: "Sometime actress and full-time Hollywood party girl, Lindsay catapulted to fame ... After three car crashes in a year and admitting to alcohol and drug addiction, Lindsay checked herself into rehab. With a third album on the way and a threat to "tour like Madonna," the Lindsay epidemic won't be going away soon. Sadly."

Britney Spears: "She has managed to dilute her brand and her fan base with one fell swoop into crazy-town. But even with a string of poor performances and personal humiliations, Britney's latest single, "Gimme More," continues to climb the charts and her net worth is still estimated at around $150 million from past albums, tours, an epic advertising deal with Pepsi ,and the sales of four different perfumes branded by Brit. She may be a train wreck, but this pop tart isn't leaving the spotlight any time soon.

Kim Kardashian: She was "close" friends with fellow celebutante Paris Hilton, but that alone wasn't enough to make Kim famous. Thanks to a sex tape that was leaked onto the Internet with a former boyfriend, singer Ray-J, and the reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians -- AND Kim posing in the December issue of Playboy, it's obvious Kim is here to stay for the time being.

Heidi Montag: The girl everyone loves to hate on The Hills. Heidi and her stupid fiance, Spencer Pratt, stay in the media spotlight by courting paparazzi to follow them just about everywhere. Heidi and Spencer are desperately trying to launch Heidi as a pop star, but her debut single, "Body Language," tanked in August.

Monday, November 26, 2007


A Guide to Corporate Ownership of Everything

SUMMARY: the mega-monopoly corporations that control most major industries in America also fund the (generally) right-wing corporate media by being the source of most of their advertising dollars, as they are the only ones that can afford the high-priced commercial airtime. They control the corporate political parties that run the country and, due to the mutually-beneficial advertiser-publisher relationship between the corporate press and the corporate monopolies, the corporate press rarely investigates the conflicts of interest between politicians and their corporate benefactors.

THE SOLUTION: STOP GIVING THEM YOUR MONEY!!! Shop at locally owned stores. Get an alternative-fueled car that doesn't need gas from the big-5 oil companies. Dump your cable TV. Seek out non-monopoly-corporate alternatives for everything you need. If every progressive American chose to not give their cash to the corporate monopolies, we could help starve them for cash that they would then not be able to give to their other corporate buddies.

Is it difficult? Maybe. Is it impossible? NO!

---Rex Frankel, webmaster


Here's an inspiring story:

Boycott Everything...

Like so many great ideas and Movements, this one is simplicity itself.

Just boycott everything.

Take public transportation to work, or walk to the corner store, or figure out a way to leave your car in the garage for the weekend. If you own an SUV, sell it. If you are in the market for a car, look into the gas/electric hybrids that are available. Thus, you boycott the petroleum companies that rape our planet and soil our air. Make your own coffee, or buy your morning cup of brew from the mom 'n pop joint you always walk by on your way to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. Sure, it's crummy brew. But you are boycotting corporate hegemony.

Turn off the God damned television. While it is on you are a vapid receptacle for all of the invasive nonsense that is our sad and deranged estate. By simply boycotting television, you are saying 'NO' to all the advertisers and corporate hucksters who have sold us all down the river. If you are a news junkie, satisfy yourself with a couple of newspapers or the Internet. CNN hasn't told you anything that you need to know for a long, long time.

continued...Boycott Everything...


Details on what the Mega-Corporations Own:

updates on corporate mergers:


How to Overthrow Corporate Rule in 5 Not-so-easy Steps



1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

Greetings, Compact-wegians,

Tomorrow is the start of our 12-month flight from the consumer grid. To aid us all in getting started and sticking to the regime, I've compiled the guidelines we set in stone at our great dinner a few weeks back.

As agreed, The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact

2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)

3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

So, here goes for the rules:

  • First principle - don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
  • Second principle - borrow or buy used.
  • A few exceptions -
  • to read the rest:
    Rich getting richer faster

    New studies spotlight a growing gap between top and bottom. The divide
    is widest in Arizona, narrowest in Wyoming.

    By MSN Money Staff 1/30/06

    Two new studies find the rich are getting richer at a faster pace.

    A study released in late January, from the Center on Budget and Policy
    Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute, found that the gap
    between the highest- and lowest-income families is significantly wider than
    it was 25 years ago.

    And an analysis of income-tax data by Congressional Budget Office found
    that the top 1% of households own nearly twice as much of the nation’s
    corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

    The studies come among a growing push to increase the federal minimum
    wage of $5.15 an hour for the first time in nine years. Public advocacy
    groups have successfully lobbied for “living wage” reforms in 18 states
    and a number of cities, raising the minimum wage in some places as high
    as $12 an hour.

    An employee working full-time at the federal minimum wage makes $10,712
    a year. About 7% of the workforce earns a minimum wage.

    “Growing income inequality harms this nation in a number of ways,”
    stated Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute
    and co-author of the income report. “When income growth is concentrated
    at the top of the income scale, the people at the bottom have a much
    harder time lifting themselves out of poverty and giving their children a
    decent start in life.”

    Market rebound favors well-off:

    The five states with the largest income gap between the top and bottom
    fifths of families are New York, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona and Florida.
    Generally, income gaps are larger in the Southeast and Southwest and
    smaller in the Midwest, Great Plains and Mountain states. (To see the
    state-by-state list, ranked, see end of story.)

    Income inequality declined somewhat, the report found, following the
    bursting of the stock and high-tech bubbles in 2000, which were costly to
    the highest-income families. But incomes at the top have rebounded,
    while the negative effects of the recent recession on low and
    moderate-income families have lasted longer than usual.

    In 38 states where the incomes of the bottom fifth of families grew
    more slowly than those at the top, incomes at the top rose by an average
    of $45,800 (62%), while the incomes of the poorest grew by $3,000 (21%).

    The only state in which incomes of the poor grew faster than those of
    the rich was Alaska.

    The study is based on Census income data that have been adjusted to
    account for inflation, the impact of federal taxes and the cash value of
    food stamps, subsidized school lunches and housing vouchers. Income from
    capital gains is also included. The study compares combined data from
    2001-2003 with data from the early 1980s and early 1990s, time periods
    chosen because they stand as comparable low points of their respective
    business cycles.

    Possible steps to stem the disparity, the report offers, include
    raising state minimum wages, strengthening supports for low-income working
    families and reforming the unemployment insurance system. In addition,
    states can pursue tax policies that partially offset the growing
    inequality of pre-tax incomes.

    Corporate wealth concentrates further:

    The richest 1% of households -- those with incomes above $237,000 for
    2003, the latest year analyzed -- owned 57.5% of all income from capital
    gains, dividends, interest and rents in 2003, the CBO analysis found.
    That was up from 53.4% the year before and 38.7% in 1991.

    Long-term capital gains were taxed at 28% until 1997, and at 20% until
    2003, when rates were cut to 15%. The top rate on stock dividends was
    cut to 15% from 35% that year.

    The poorest fifth of Americans owned 0.6% of corporate wealth in 2003,
    down from 1.4 percent in 1991.

    The CBO analysis excludes the stock held in retirement accounts such as
    401(k)s and IRAs, which isn’t subject to taxation and was thus
    unaffected by the tax cuts.

    Although these tax cuts are slated to expire in 2008, Congress is
    already debating whether to extend them through 2010. The Bush
    administration has been calling for the cuts to be extended or made permanent.

    An analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that an
    extension of the tax cuts would save households with incomes under $50,000
    about $11 in 2009. Those with incomes above $1 million would save about

    The growing gap in family incomes:

    Rank State Top 5% Bottom 20% Ratio

    14 Alabama $172,029 $14,765 11.7
    45 Alaska $180,148 $20,533 8.8
    1 Arizona $223,081 $15,719 14.2
    13 Arkansas $163,908 $13,888 11.8
    8 California $207,363 $16,773 12.4
    19 Colorado $215,109 $18,983 11.3
    24 Connecticut $231,928 $21,003 11.0
    41 Delaware $188,435 $20,225 9.3
    7 Florida $199,892 $15,396 13.0
    36 Georgia $158,382 $16,345 9.7
    26 Hawaii $208,340 $19,294 10.8
    43 Idaho $162,923 $17,847 9.1
    20 Illinois $203,876 $18,032 11.3
    30 Indiana $195,217 $18,590 10.5
    48 Iowa $155,722 $18,503 8.4
    17 Kansas $209,125 $18,284 11.4
    5 Kentucky $193,766 $14,814 13.1
    16 Louisiana $153,334 $13,347 11.5
    31 Maine $164,232 $15,975 10.3
    12 Maryland $253,923 $21,480 11.8
    11 Massachusetts $233,108 $19,690 11.8
    21 Michigan $200,814 $17,927 11.2
    33 Minnesota $223,411 $22,608 9.9
    25 Mississippi $145,342 $13,456 10.8
    38 Missouri $176,320 $18,482 9.5
    42 Montana $135,164 $14,788 9.1
    49 Nebraska $160,862 $19,242 8.4
    39 Nevada $180,521 $19,143 9.4
    35 New Hampshire $226,178 $23,128 9.8
    4 New Jersey $268,889 $20,391 13.2
    18 New Mexico $157,011 $13,748 11.3
    3 New York $216,061 $16,076 13.4
    9 North Carolina $183,253 $14,884 12.3
    44 North Dakota $147,519 $16,805 8.8
    27 Ohio $195,175 $18,216 10.7
    37 Oklahoma $150,011 $15,483 9.7
    32 Oregon $175,976 $17,367 10.1
    10 Pennsylvania $223,152 $18,548 12.0
    28 Rhode Island $200,859 $18,916 10.6
    29 South Carolina $157,634 $14,957 10.5
    47 South Dakota $155,427 $18,353 8.5
    6 Tennessee $187,026 $14,303 13.1
    2 Texas $203,174 $14,724 13.8
    34 Utah $192,142 $19,594 9.8
    40 Vermont $176,291 $18,846 9.4
    23 Virginia $200,191 $18,110 11.1
    15 Washington $195,170 $16,911 11.5
    22 West Virginia $147,434 $13,208 11.2
    46 Wisconsin $174,919 $20,197 8.7
    50 Wyoming $145,587 $18,171 8.0


    Big contributors to GOP reap big post-election rewards
    By Jim Drinkard, USA TODAY

    WASHINGTON - Just six months into a new term for
    President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress,
    some of their heaviest donors are scoring victories on
    the legislative and regulatory fronts.
    From rewrites of the laws governing bankruptcy and
    class-action lawsuits to relief for oil, timber and
    tobacco interests, GOP supporters who gave millions of
    dollars last year are reaping decisions worth billions
    from a Congress with more Republicans.

    "Clearly, the election outcome has helped," says Bruce
    Josten, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber
    of Commerce. "We are heading in the right direction. A
    lot more has been done by this time in a new session
    than usual."

    While much public attention has been focused on Bush's
    sputtering effort to sell an overhaul of Social
    Security, legislation long sought by the GOP and its
    business allies have been enacted with bipartisan
    support. In February, Congress passed and Bush signed
    a bill that sharply limits class-action lawsuits. The
    savings will likely come to several billion dollars a
    year, says Russ Sutter of Tillinghast-Towers Perrin,
    an actuarial firm that studies tort costs.

    The business sector that includes manufacturing and
    retail was among top GOP donors last election cycle.
    It directed three of every five political dollars to
    Republicans--almost $121 million, according to the
    non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

    There was a similar partisan tilt in political giving
    by the finance industry, which won passage in April of
    a law making it harder to erase debts by declaring
    bankruptcy. Credit card companies and banks sought the
    change as a way to collect more debts.

    The finance sector gave nearly $195 million to the GOP
    in the 2004 elections. And 105 of Bush's 548 elite
    fundraisers--those who raised $100,000 or more--were
    from the world of finance, making it his biggest base
    of top-dollar support, at $34 million.

    "Many of the traditional business supporters are
    really getting the agenda they wanted, and it seems to
    be speeding up," says Larry Noble, director of the
    Center for Responsive Politics, which studies the
    impact of money on politics.

    Still to come: Congress is pushing to complete an
    energy bill. Business interests want limits on
    liability for water contamination caused by MTBE, a
    fuel additive designed to reduce auto emissions, and
    oil companies seek to open the Arctic National
    Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The Senate passed its
    version Tuesday.

    Bush supporters also have had good luck outside the
    legislative arena:

    --Justice Department lawyers this month abruptly
    scaled back their request for a penalty in the
    government's lawsuit against tobacco companies. Rather
    than the 25-year, $130 billion smoking cessation
    program their own expert had recommended, they are
    asking for a $14 billion remedy. The tobacco industry
    favored Republicans three-to-one over Democrats last
    year, giving $2.7 million to the party and its

    The Justice Department's Office of Professional
    Responsibility is looking into whether politics
    influenced the decision.

    --After Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman
    William Donaldson resigned under fire from business
    groups who complained about overzealous regulation,
    Bush replaced him with someone with a pro-corporate
    record: Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif.

    "It's hard to imagine somebody with a more nakedly
    deregulatory agenda," says William Lerach, a trial
    lawyer who has brought shareholder lawsuits against
    corporations accused of securities fraud. Securities
    and investment firms gave $47.8 million to Republicans
    last election.

    --The administration last month reversed a ban on road
    construction, timber harvesting, mining and energy
    development on undeveloped national forest land. The
    government also has expanded oil and gas development
    on federal lands, including areas in New Mexico and

    Energy and natural resources interests gave $39.3
    million to the GOP last year, three times the amount
    given to Democrats.

    Election Campaign Spending:

    The top 10 corporate donors to 2006 California ballot initiatives are responsible for half the money given to ballot initiatives :

    Philip Morris USA Inc. - $30,420,081

    Chevron Corporation - $30,250,000

    Aera Energy (ExxonMobile & Shell) - $24,620,838

    R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company - $22,781,513CA

    Hospitals Committee On Issues, Sponsored By CAHHS- $9,916,673

    Occidental Oil And Gas Corporation - $9,350,000

    U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. - $2,121,799

    California Alliance For Jobs Rebuild California Committee - $1,800,000

    Plains Exploration & Production Company - $1,250,000

    Commonwealth Brands, Inc. - $1,250,000


    Cable a la carte still isn't on menu.
    Tired of So Many Violent Programs and high rates for Sports that you never watch?


    WASHINGTON - Sports fans everywhere want to know: "Why do I have to subscribe to the soap opera channel when all I really want is ESPN?"

    That's the kind of question the cable TV industry hates answering.

    The channel choice issue comes up every few years, but people who argue that subscribers should be able to choose channels "a la carte" have never made any real headway.

    The latest effort, and the newest reasoning for requiring cable companies to offer channel choice, or a la carte cable, has to do with yet another issue: television violence.

    The Federal Communications Commission released a report in late April suggesting to Congress that an a la carte system would allow parents to shield their children from violent shows by not subscribing to the channels that carry them.

    FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who has been unshakable in his support of channel choice, says it can't happen without federal legislation. And thus far, the issue has gotten little traction on Capitol Hill.

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who is expected to unveil a bill addressing television violence any day now, has opposed the creation of an a la carte system.

    The overall lack of support might seem surprising, considering the average household in 2006 received 104 channels, yet tuned in to only 16 of them, according to the Nielsen TV ratings company.

    If we aren't watching all those channels, why can't we just pick the ones we want and avoid paying for the rest? The answer lies within the arcane world of cable TV economics.

    In the old days (pre-1970s), cable systems provided viewers with broadcast channels that viewers couldn't tune in because the signals were too weak where they lived.

    Since then, there has been a steady growth in cable-only channels, starting with popular ones such as HBO, CNN, MTV and ESPN.

    Federal law requires cable companies to offer a bare bones, "basic tier" of service, consisting of local broadcast and public access channels.

    The second tier, commonly known as "expanded basic," includes most of the major cable networks. There's usually no choice on this tier; subscribers get all the channels or none of them.

    Beyond that, subscribers may pick premium channels such as HBO, that are priced separately.

    Unlike over-the-air broadcasters, which rely almost entirely on advertising to stay in business, cable networks earn about half their revenue from per-subscriber charges levied on cable system operators. Those costs are passed on to subscribers.

    Two types of companies dominate the cable industry: those that own both broadcast and cable networks (such as Walt Disney Co.); and those that own both cable systems and cable networks (such as Time Warner Inc.).

    Disney, for example, owns the ABC television network, which feeds programming to 228 affiliates, several popular cable-only channels (80 percent of ESPN) and several not-as-popular cable channels (SOAPnet).

    Cable customers demand that their local cable company carry the ABC affiliate so they can watch popular shows such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" or catch the local news. Disney can charge the cable operator to carry the ABC network, but the cable operator can avoid the cost by agreeing to carry other, less-popular Disney-owned networks.

    The second model is a form of vertical integration, or ownership of the cable delivery system and its programming content.

    Time Warner owns the second-largest cable television service in the nation with 13.4 million subscribers. It also owns some of the most popular cable channels in the U.S. That means that Time Warner the cable system owner must negotiate with Time Warner the cable channel owner to provide programming.

    In a nutshell, the cable television business is a closed, profitable system with a small number of very large players who negotiate secret deals with one another and have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

    "The whole system feeds on itself," said Jeannine Kenney, senior policy analyst with Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. "It's almost like everyone benefits except for the consumer and the independent content provider."

    An a la carte regime would blow up that system and disrupt its economic model. And that would lead to higher prices and less programming diversity, according to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, an industry trade group.

    Fewer channels would mean less advertising and fewer advertising dollars. An a la carte system also would require more customer service representatives, higher billing costs and higher marketing costs.

    These factors and others would ultimately lead to higher rates for consumers, according to the NCTA.

    The bottom line is there is no way of knowing for sure. A 2003 GAO report stated that "a variety of factors" make it "difficult to ascertain how many consumers would be better off and how many would be made worse off under an a la carte approach."

    Consumers Union has lobbied long and hard for a la carte, saying it would put a halt to steadily rising cable prices. It has an ally in the Parents Television Council, a group that successfully pushed for higher fines for broadcast stations that air raunchy programming.

    The opponent is the cable industry, led by the NCTA, which issues press statements every time Martin utters the words "a la carte."

    Cable networks that cater to minorities fear cable choice. They worry that it will drop their subscriber base dramatically and run them out of business. (The biggest minority networks, such as Black Entertainment Television, are owned by big cable or broadcast companies.)

    Cable's closed system has developed mostly because of the industry's status as a monopoly for most of its early years. Even when direct broadcast satellite providers like Dish Network and El Segundo-based DirecTV came on the scene and cut heavily into cable's customer base, the system still didn't change much.

    The same programming rules that apply to cable apply to satellite. If you want the popular channels, you have take the unpopular channels.


    Satellite TV offers a la carte deals:

    Digital 4DTV A la Carte Channels MonMonthlythly


    Animal Planet/The Travel Channel/TLC E/Discovery E $3.50 9.60 31.80
    Bravo E (C-band) & W (Ku-band) 4.50 12.00 43.00
    Cinemax Digital 14.25 38.75 145.00
    Discovery HD Theater (High Definition) 6.00 16.75 59.00
    ESPN Classic 4.69 12.69 45.29
    GAC - Great American Country (Ku-band) 4.89 12.69 45.29
    Golf Channel (Ku-band) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    Mini Scripps (HGTV/DIY/Food Network E&W/Fine Living) 8.89 24.97 76.99
    History Channel E (Ku-band) & W (C-band) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    HBO Digital * 16.75 46.50 174.00
    HBO/Cinemax Digital 22.25 63.00 243.00
    Independent Film Channel (Ku) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    PT24E - CBS 5.35 14.95 53.19
    PT24E - ABC 5.35 14.95 53.19
    KDVR FOX Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    KUSA NBC Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    KMGH ABC Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    KCNC CBS Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    KWGN WB Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    Sci-Fi (Ku-band) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    Showtime Digital Triple * Showtime/FLIX/TMC 15.25 42.00 159.00
    Showtime Digital * 14.50 40.50 150.00
    Speed Channel (Ku-band) 4.85 12.80 45.99
    STARZ! Digital 14.75 41.00 152.00
    Sundance Digital 13.00 35.75 126.00
    TV Land (Ku-band) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    WE: Women's Entertainment (Ku-band) 4.39 11.69 41.59
    Wealth 1.99 4.99 18.72
    * Get the Analog movie channel free (analog decoder required) when you subscribe to that Digital movie channel.
    Analog A la Carte Channels Monthly



    FOXNews 2.25 - -
    HBO 15.75 - -
    Showtime 13.75 38.27 138.00
    The Weather Channel 2.25

    or other satellite providers:


    AT&T: Buying Back its Monopoly

    AT&T is the U.S.’s dominant phone company. Despite the 1983 breakup of AT&T’s monopoly by the Justice department into seven local phone monopolies, since then the company has re-acquired four of those local firms. Two of the local monopolies are now owned by Verizon, and one by Qwest, leaving 3 companies in control of almost the entire USA land line and cell phone market. (Other options for phone service are from the cable monopoly in your area, usually either Comcast or Time-Warner, which together have over half of all USA cable subscribers.

    After the passage of the 1996 U.S. Telecommunications Act by congress, AT&T was freed to move into most other communications businesses. In the hopes of establishing a “synergy” between using phone and cable lines together to reach the maximum number of American homes and sell phone service, cellular, internet and pay TV as one package, AT&T made an ill-fated foray into the cable TV business, buying TCI, the nation’s largest cable system owner in 1998. In 1999 AT&T bought MediaOne, another large cable system owner. AT&T also bought a 2.5% stake in DirecTV.

    Because this “synergy” did not excite the buying public, and the massive run-up in values of entertainment properties after the 1996 Telecom act meant that AT&T had rung up enormous debt in buying cable systems that were not worth those prices, AT&T’s stock took a huge dive. Several other major media firms that had expanded rapidly through debt-financed purchases in the 1990’s also soon wrote off billions of dollars in value. These firms included AOL-Time Warner, Vivendi Universal, Clear Channel radio, Qwest and MCI Worldcom. In 2001, AT&T sold its cable systems to Comcast, creating the USA’s largest system owner with almost 40% of all subscribers. AT&T also spun off its cell phone division, which was bought in 2004 by a partnership owned by SBC and BellSouth. This left AT&T as only a long distance firm again.

    Ironically, the weakened AT&T sold itself to SBC in 2005, and SBC later that year bought BellSouth, re-creating the massive AT&T of before.

    --Rex Frankel


    -1983 AT&T is split up; parent company will be AT&T long distance and Bell Labs phone equipment firm. Newly spun-off local phone service companies are Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Pacific Bell, U.S. West, BellSouth, Southwestern Bell and Nynex. For the next 13 years, AT&T was restricted to only providing long distance phone service, while the local companies were restricted to selling local service.

    -7/1990 AT&T buys Western Union’s email and telex business for $180 million

    -1991 AT&T buys NCR for $7.5 billion

    -8/1993 AT&T merges with McCaw Communications (#1 in US cell business) in deal valued at $12.6 billion

    -9/1995 AT&T spins off its Bell Labs phone equipment business as Lucent Technologies (now known as Alcatel-Lucent) and also spins off NCR computer and cash register biz.

    -4/1996 Southwestern Bell buys Pacific Bell for $15.6 billion

    -1/1998 SBC buys independent Southern New England Telecom for $4.4 billion

    -6/1998 AT&T buys TCI for $43.5 billion in stock. In deal, TCI’s former owner John Malone will retain control of TCI’s Liberty Media division and its interests in over 90 cable channels as a tracking stock of AT&T. AT&T will get TCI’s 111 million subscribers, and TCI has partnerships with other cable system owners that bring its reach up to half of US subscribers. AT&T will also get control of TCI’s @home internet service.

    1/1999 SBC merges with Ameritech for $85 billion. Will sell off its Chicago cell system. Combined SBC/Ameritech/PacBell will control 1.3rd of USA local phone lines. FCC staff calls merger anti-competitive. FCC eventually OKs the deal in 10/1999 after adding 30 conditions The conditions require SBC to sell discount access to other DSL ISPs and they must open their local phone service to competition.

    -4/1999 AT&T bids $58 billion for MediaOne cable systems outbidding Comcast.They become part of AT&T Broadband. AT&T agrees to sell off 2 million subscribers of MediaOne to Comcast. In the deal, AT&T gets 25% stake in Time Warner’s cable systems. Time Warner protests the deal.

    -10/2000 facing a loss of half its stock value in past year, AT&T splits into 3 companies: cable, wireless, and long distance phone and business services. The costs of upgrading TCI cable to broadband were underestimated at $2 rather than $10 billion. AT&T also controls Liberty but doesn’t own it as it is owned by shareholders of a separate tracking stock.

    -11/2000 AT&T board votes to spin off Liberty Media and its stakes in Encore-Starz, USA, BET and Discovery, and could also sell its stake in Rainbow Media (controlled by Cablevision). 8/2001 is set as spin-off date, and Liberty holdings will also include stakes in Time Warner cable and News Corp.

    1/2001 AT&T plans to sell its stake in E Channel, Food Network, Outdoor Life and Speedvision, Digital Cable Radio, Fox Sports New England, In Demand, National Cable Communications and the Sunshine Network which were acquired as part of MediaOne deal

    -7/2001 AT&T Wireless is spun off to shareholders. AT&T will keep 7.4% stake, other holders include NTT DoCoMo of Japan with 17.4% and AXA financial firm with 6.7%

    In 12/2001 AT&T sells cable broadband systems to Comcast for $52 billion in stock; giving existing AT&T shareholders 66% stake in Comcast. Comcast also gets 25% stake in Time Warner Entertainment, which owns HBO, Warner Brothers studio and TW’s cable systems, plus gets $20 billion or ½ of AT&T’s debt.

    -2/2004 Cingular wireless, owned 60% by SBC and 40% by Bellsouth, bids $41 billion for AT&T Wireless. With purchase, Cingular will have 30% of US cell users compared to 24% by Verizon. FCC eventually requires sell-off of assets in 22 markets

    -1/2005 SBC buys AT&T long distance for $15 billion. AT&T had been weakened by rise of cell phone use, appeals court ruling in 2004. SBC changes its name to AT&T. FCC and California's PUC require SBC to offer stand-alone DSL to customers

    -3/2005 AT&T agrees to pay $67 billion in cash for BellSouth, and assume $22 billion in debt, giving it ownership of 4 of the original 7 Baby-Bells that were ordered spun-off in 1983 to settle monopoly issues.