Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on August 22nd, 2006 at 11:33 am
Even though many people have thanked me for a job well-done and congratulated me on a “victory”, for some reason I still don’t feel like celebrating.
I have also heard from several of you, both in emails and in person, that you are curious about where things stand. Here’s what I know…
A recording of the July 13th broadcast has still not surfaced. Local cyclist Jasun Wurster—the man behind the picnic event and website that organized much of the protest—has contacted affiliate markets where The Playhouse is broadcast. Wurster has also connected with bike advocacy groups in those markets to inform them about the situation.
As one concerned individual trying to do what he feels is right, Wurster is doing great work and we should all thank him for his dedication to this issue.
As for the FCC? Even though they’ve likely received hundreds of complaints about this situation, they don’t seem to be able to intervene. After this story was mentioned in a League of American Bicyclists newsletter (scroll down) I was contacted by a lawyer from Cincinnati who worked on a similar case involving Clear Channel in 2003. He got in touch with his friend who works at the FCC in Washington DC. He asked if the FCC can request the tape from the station and this was the response:
“There isn’t any statute or FCC rule that requires broadcast stations to either keep or supply transcripts, tapes, podcasts, or anything else. We don’t even require program logs anymore. Lots of stations do keep tapes and transcripts for advertising purposes (to demonstrate, if needed, that they aired the spots bought and paid for) or if they want to collect and package the DJ bits. But there isn’t any way to force or coerce the station into coughing up any of those tapes or transcripts. We have this question come up pretty regularly, and folks are pretty regularly shocked by the answer.”
That’s news to me.
There was some talk about filing a lawsuit against the station, but without the tape the case is risky and complex. At this point no one has stepped forward to file. Although I think a lawsuit does have some potential, I personally have decided to not be named as a plaintiff.
And what about supposed negotiations with station manager Tim McNamara?
He told me on the phone he would “do anything to make it (the backlash) stop.” He mentioned possible donations, purchases of bikes for 700 kids, free airtime for bike-related public service announcements, and so on.
When I asked BTA Director Evan Manvel what the results of those negotiations were, he said that he thinks they’re running some PSAs about the upcoming Bike Commute Challenge, but that he hasn’t heard them himself.
I wanted to know more so I emailed Craig Bachman. I said the bike community has a right to know the outcome of the negotiations. I emailed him over a week ago and as of this morning I still hadn’t heard back, so I gave him a call.
Bachman chose his words very carefully when speaking with me. When I asked what came of the negotiations he said he didn’t want to “perpetuate that situation.” He then questioned whether more “web chatter” was a constructive way to move forward.
Bachman refused to share the outcome of his negotiations with me (even off the record) and said he preferred to have lunch with Evan Manvel and I so we can have a “fuller discussion off the record” because “there are more moving parts to this situation than just the radio show.” He kept repeating that his goal was “to achieve a positive outcome,” and that “all of us have to look very critically at our actions.”
I’m not sure what all the mystery is about, but I hope to learn more soon.
when Manvel, Bachman and I get together for lunch later this week.
So, at this point we have no tape, no known outcome to negotiations, and I feel like the station has wiped their hands clean of the whole thing simply by doing one very savvy PR move.
I know I should probably just leave the whole thing alone and move on but I remain frustrated because the situation still feels unresolved.