|Search news by keyword||Category||Date Range|
Tom - According to Reuters news service, a book publisher that bought an ad on Don Imus’s radio show is suing the shock jock and his former bosses at CBS Radio for more than $4 million, saying Imus insulted the book he was paid to promote. It was the latest controversy to follow the radio personality, who was fired by CBS Radio in April 2007 for insulting a women’s basketball team with a racial slur. He has since returned to the air with another network. Flatsigned Press said in a New York state court lawsuit filed late on Wednesday that Imus’ show had agreed to a script for the 30-second spot in January 2007 to promote a book by former President Gerald Ford on the investigation into the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to the lawsuit, Imus laughed as he read the script, calling it “cheesy,” and that he said “These bastards have been waiting for him to croak so they can unload” the books. Martin Garbus, Imus’ lawyer, said “The lawsuit is without merit and will be dismissed.” Ford served on the Warren Commission that conducted the official inquiry and his book “John F. Kennedy: Assassination Report of the Warren Commission” was published shortly after Ford died in December 2006. The lawsuit also names Infinity Broadcasting Corp., Sports Radio 66-WFAN and CBS Radio. Infinity, which used to be a division of Viacom Inc., became part of CBS Radio when CBS and Viacom split in 2006. “Imus in the Morning” was produced and broadcast by the CBS-owned WFAN radio station in New York and syndicated on some 60 stations nationally. The program also was simulcast on cable television’s MSNBC, but MSNBC did not air the ad and was not sued. In December, Imus returned to radio with a nationally syndicated show broadcast out of WABC in New York in a deal with ABC Radio Networks, which is owned by Citadel Broadcasting Corp.
Linda - In other news concerning radio shock jocks, the Huffington Post reports that at least four major firms have pulled advertising from Michael Savage’s nationally syndicated radio show following a campaign highlighting his inflammatory rhetoric. One other company, Geico insurance, is expected to follow suit. The campaign, launched recently by Brave New Films, generated thousands of calls urging advertisers on the Savage Nation show to sever financial ties to the widely popular and frequently offensive talk host. In less than a week, four agreed to pull their ads from the show, including Intuit, Chattem, ITT Technical Institute and Union Bank of California, whose representative says they were advertisers on the Savage show by mistake and were glad to be taken off. Said documentary film maker and founder of Brave New Films Robert Greenwald “We are thrilled at the amazing response of the true patriots all over the blogsphere who responded to our NOSAVAGE campaign,” “People have called and emailed and the responsible sponsors have responded by pulling their ads and asking that their ads not be on this racist and hateful show.”
Tom - But one group who has segments run on the show is raising eyebrows by refusing to distance itself from Savage. The USO, a non-profit that does work for U.S. armed forces, wrote Brave New Films complaining about being targeted and even hinting at a lawsuit. The organization’s lawyer Tony Bisceglie says it does not pay for the USO public service announcements that air on Savage’s show. Bisceglie wrote to Brave New Films saying that “As a tax exempt not-for-profit organization, regulated by the Attorney General’s Office of the state of California and the Internal Revenue Service, your organization may not engage in making false statements to solicit public support. Therefore, please take the necessary steps to remove USO from your website entirely to avoid further action on our part.” Bisceglie denied that the USO is considering legal action. But John Hanson, a spokesman for the USO, said the organization would not ask for its PSAs to be taken off of Savage’s program, saying “We provide no revenue for Michael Savage. We may improve his image. But we provide no revenue for him.” The reasoning was not enough to impress officials at Brave New Films who called it a lost opportunity for the USO. Said Leighton Woodhouse, a spokesperson for Brave New Films, “Considering the USO’s role in the world, we would have expected them to be the first to distance themselves from someone who is deliberately fanning the flames of hatred between Muslims and non-Muslims; we were sorely disappointed.”
Linda - The campaign by Greenwald mirrors an earlier initiative taken on behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In both cases, Savage’s invective was used against him as fuel for advertisers to rescind their financial support. Some of most offensive statements include him saying that the U.S. Senate is “more vicious and more histrionic than ever, specifically because women have been injected into” it, that Muslims should “take your religion and shove it up your behind”, that “90 percent of the people on the Nobel Committee are into child pornography and molestation, according to the latest scientific studies” and that the Hispanic advocacy group the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is "the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic people." Savage’s show, the Savage Nation received 15 hours a week of airtime in the Grand Rapids area on AM radio 1300.
Tom - In Afghanistan, a journalist has been sentenced to death for distributing an article deemed by an Afghani Court to have “insulted Islam”. Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh’s crime was to have passed around a piece taken from a website questioning why Muslim women cannot have multiple husbands in the same way as their menfolk can legally take four wives. Mr Kaambakhsh, who works for “The New World”, a newspaper in Afghanistan’s northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, was prosecuted for downloading this article, apparently gleaned from an Iranian website, and distributing it to his friends. Last week, a court found him guilty of “insulting Islam” and sentenced him to death, stating that “Based on the crimes Parwez Kaambakhsh committed, the primary court sentenced him to the most serious punishment which is the death penalty.” No lawyer represented Mr Kaambakhsh, 23, during the critical hearing, which appears to have taken place in secret in Mazar-i-Sharif. The journalist will appeal against the verdict and both Afghan and international campaigners denounced his treatment. Said Rahimullah Samander, president of the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA). “This is unfair, this is illegal,” “This is too big for a small mistake - he just printed a copy and looked at this and read it. How can we believe in this ‘democracy’ if we can’t even read, we can’t even study?” The AIJA urged President Hamid Karzai to intervene in the case and quash the death sentence. The penalty must be confirmed by a higher court before it can be inflicted.
Linda - But campaigners believe that the court’s real motive was not protecting the honour of Islam. Mr Kaambakhsh’s brother, Yaqub Ibrahimi, also works as a journalist and has written a series of reports on atrocities committed by senior politicians in northern Afghanistan. The authorities may have been trying to silence him by threatening Mr Kaambakhsh’s life. Jean MacKenzie, country director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which trains Afghan journalists, said: “We feel very strongly that this is a complete fabrication on the part of the authorities up in Mazar, designed to put pressure on Parwez’s brother, Yaqub, who has done some of the hardest-hitting pieces outlining abuses by some very powerful commanders in Balkh and the other northern provinces.” The overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 brought a new era of media freedom in Afghanistan. Dozens of newspapers and television stations have sprung up across the country. In practice, however, the authorities are deeply suspicious of journalists and all media outlets face pressure and harassment. Laws protecting the good name of Islam can often be invoked to stifle press criticism.
Tom - Last week The Federal Communications Commission began auctioning off a large swath of wireless spectrum today that might hold the promise of delivering a robust wireless broadband alternative to cable and DSL. The auction of the 700 megahertz spectrum includes enough capacity to help create a nationwide broadband network that can deliver faster speeds than current cellular data networks. The characteristics of the spectrum — which has broad reach and the ability to easily pass through walls — combined with the fact that it is the last section of airwaves expected to go on sale for some time, makes this auction a prime opportunity for wireless operators. Said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, It’s “probably the most important auction we’ve had to date and the most important one we’re going to have in the foreseeable future.” But some critics fear the auction could end up being dominated by a few large companies like Verizon and AT&T, potentially stifling competition and innovation. Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, a media reform organization, summarized the concerns of many saying “Placing the promise of the mobile Internet exclusively under the gatekeeper control of these companies is a chilling prospect,” “We need policies that open the closed networks of today and guarantee an open wireless Internet for future generations.” Free Press has pushed a petition that would force the FCC to require all wireless carriers to open their networks to outside applications and devices. The organization hopes to ensure that consumers maintain access to choice and innovations.
Linda - The FCC hopes to gain about $10 billion from the sale of the spectrum, which is being freed by the conversion of television signals from analog to digital next year. There are 214 bidders who for 1,099 licenses that are spread over five blocks. Most of the attention has been on the C-block, the largest piece. Google pledged to pay at least the reserve amount of $4.6 billion for the C-block, which is broken into 12 regional licenses. Last year, Google successfully lobbied the FCC to add open requirements for the C-block that would require the owner to keep the network open to any application or device. Many analysts believe Google is not prepared to win the spectrum auction but is staying in to follow up on its commitment to openness and force a big player like Verizon to meet the reserve. If the reserve for any of the blocks is not met, the FCC can reprice that block or tinker with the requirements attached.