(click here to go to Chicago Media Action home page)



The Public and Broadcasting - basic FCC manual for the public

WTTW-TV FCC home shopping warning 1995

WTTW-TV FCC commercialism fine  1997, 2000

FCC public broadcasting commercialism guidelines

NPR mission statement

Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, Public Television: 

A Program for Action, 1967 Summary


Public Broadcasting Act of 1967

A Public Trust: The Report of the Carnegie Commission 

on the Future of Public Broadcasting, 1978 Summary


If you need more, try the Public Broadcasting Policy Base (Current magazine)

If you still need more, try the public broadcasting archives, College Park, Md.




book cover


"Made Possible By...the Death of Public Broadcasting" 

James Ledbetter  


In "Made Possible By...the Death of Public Broadcasting", Village Voice columnist James Ledbetter considers the current state of public broadcasting and finds it decidedly lacking. During its early heyday, NET (National Educational Television, a forerunner of PBS) regularly aired innovative and provocative public-affairs shows; soon, however, public-television managers began toning down controversial content in a desperate--and doomed--attempt to secure government funding.   

When even these efforts failed, public television increasingly turned to corporate sponsors to fill the gap, resulting in a movement away from adventurous programming in favor of politically inoffensive, "safe" shows such as Sesame Street, Masterpiece Theatre, even Ken Burns's The Civil War.  Today, Ledbetter writes, corporate influence rules in public broadcasting, much as it does in commercial television. A savage indictment of corporate underwriting and bureaucratic inefficiency, Made Possible By... is also an eloquent defense of public television's possibilities; Ledbetter envisions public broadcasting as a truly democratic arena--and perhaps the only area of American public life not determined by market forces.





"The Vanishing Vision: 

The Inside Story of Public Broadcasting" 

James Day  


James Day, past president of both National Educational Television and WNET/New York, first provides an insider's account of public television's 40-year history. He then examines its mission and calls for a system that is adequately funded, independent of government, and capable of counterbalancing the common- denominator programming of private television and cable. 

"It may be hard to imagine that a book detailing the many petty bureaucratic entanglements that have consistently plagued American public television could be of interest to the general reader. But James Day's The Vanishing Vision is. It's appealing and timely, a cautionary tale about what can go wrong in the public sphere when a system has no clear definition or mission." The Washington Monthly






"Air Wars: 

The Fight to Reclaim Public Broadcasting" 

Jerold M. Starr, national director of CIPB  



"A step-by-step, blow-by-blow account of how the public was robbed of its most precious, cultural resource, the public airways, and how citizen action can take it back." George Gerbner, author of "The Future of Media"   

"All is not well in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, as public television is buffeted between its commercial aspirations and public service obligations. Jerry Starr's chronicle of his and his Pittsburgh area neighbors' struggle to defend the values of public broadcasting is a story all Americans must read to discover what's wrong with PBS-and what we can do about it. The Air Wars have to become our war too." Danny Schechter, editor, the Media Channel, and executive producer, Globalvision 

"Jerry Starr is the Rosa Parks of the modern media reform movement. He held his ground and resisted the corporate takeover of the public's airwaves. Through this inspiring book and his leadership of Citizens for Public Broadcasting, he provides a strategy for making community-responsive public broadcasting available to all." Jeff Cohen, media critic and columnist 

About the Author 

Jerold M. Starr, an activist and award-winning sociologist, is founder and executive director of Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, an organization established to promote noncommercial broadcasting in the service of the public interest.





Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America

Robert M. Entman, Andrew Rojecki



The cultural, economic and social gap between white and black lives in America is regarded by many sociologists and scholars as enormous--largely because most white people learn about African-American life through the media, particularly television. Accordingly, professors Entman (communications, North Carolina University) and Rojecki (journalism, Indiana University) set out to analyze perceptions of race by surveying a wide range of American TV shows in which race is represented, including news broadcasts, dramas and commercials, as well as in Hollywood films. They discovered that overwhelmingly negative portrayals permeate American television. In addition to traditional characterizations, there are also "new forms of racial differentiation" that are more subtle but still biased (e.g., blacks appear in more commercials, but only for less-expensive products). Using nuanced measurements and arguments, the authors attempt to "get beyond any simple scheme that categorizes Whites as either racist or not" by working from a model that reflects "complicated and conflicted racial sentiments." Entman and Rojecki look at how television news focuses on black poverty and crime out of proportion to the material reality of black lives, how black "experts" are only interviewed for "black-themed" issues and how "black politics" are distorted in the news, and conclude that, while there are more images of African-Americans on television now than there were years ago, these images often don't reflect a commitment to "racial comity" or community-building between the races. Thoroughly researched and convincingly argued, this examination of how the mainstream media deals with race is a probing and useful addition to media studies. Publisher's Weekly 

Black Image in the White Mind prompts us to see portrayals of race-with new insight and concern. The authors end the book by suggesting how more fact-based and nuanced media representations could advance their goal of "radical comity" Susan Douglas, The Progressive

All of us are shaped by popular culture, but few of us understand how, especially when it comes to our society's understanding of race and race relations. Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki examine television shows, movies, news and commercials to reveal how the media both reflect and shape our perceptions of race. Their book is accessible and compelling, and their observations startling. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.





"The Society of the Spectacle"

Guy Debord


Few works of political and cultural theory have been as enduringly provocative as Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle. From its publication amid the social upheavals of the 1960s up to the present, the volatile theses of this book have decisively transformed debates on the shape of modernity, capitalism and everyday life in the late twentieth century. Now finally available in a superb English translation approved by the author, Debord's text remains as crucial as ever for understanding the contemporary effects of power, which are increasingly inseparable from the new virtual worlds of our rapidly changing image/information culture. First published in 1967, Guy Debord's stinging revolutionary critique of contemporary society, The Society of the Spectacle has since acquired a cult status. Credited by many as being the inspiration for the ideas generated by the events of May 1968 in France, Debord's pitiless attack on commodity fetishism and its incrustation in the practices of everyday life continues to burn brightly in today's age of satellite television and the soundbite.





"The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: 

An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgois Society"

Jürgen Habermas


This is Jurgen Habermas' most concrete historical-sociological book and one of the key contributions to political thought in the post-war period. It will be a revelation to those who have known Habermas only through his theoretical writing to find his later interests in problems of legitimation and communication foreshadowed in this lucid study of the origins, nature, and evolution of public opinion in democratic societies.

"The most significant modern work on its subject...Habermas offers perhaps the richest, best developed conceptualization available of the development of the social nature and foundations of public life. As scholars set out to make sense of the growing empirical research on the topics related to this theme, this book will form an indispensable point of theoretical departure...We should be grateful that it has finally appeared in English." Craig J. Calhoun - Contemporary Sociology




"Rich Media, Poor Democracy: 

Communication Politics in Dubious Times" 

Robert W. McChesney 



"If Thomas Paine were around, he would have written this book. If Paul Revere was here, he would spread the word." Bill Moyers 

"[A] rich and penetrating study advances considerably his pioneering work. . . . [A] very significant contribution." Noam Chomsky 

"Those who want to know about the relationship of media and democracy must read this book." Neil Postman 

"I found it...the most valuable of three good books [about the media] because he takes the beast directly by the throat..." Molly Ivins 



"Culture Jam: 

The Uncooling of America" 

Kalle Lasn  

America is no longer a country but a multimillion -dollar brand, says Kalle Lasn and his fellow "culture jammers". The founder of Adbusters magazine, Lasn aims to stop the branding of America by changing the way information flows; the way institutions wield power; the way television stations are run; and the way the food, fashion, automobile, sports, music, and culture industries set agendas. With a courageous and compelling voice, Lasn deconstructs the advertising culture and our fixation on icons and brand names. And he shows how to organize resistance against the power trust that manages the brands by "uncooling" consumer items, by "demarketing" fashions and celebrities, and by breaking the "media trance" of our TV-addicted age.  

A powerful manifesto by a leading media activist, Culture Jam lays the foundations for the most significant social movement of the early twenty-first century -- a movement that can change the world and the way we think and live.

"Culture Jam: The Uncooling of America by Kalle Lasn debunks the American dream with humor and verve. Like Adbusters, the magazine that Lasn founded and publishes, Culture Jam both mocks consumer capitalism and reveals how powerfully it influences our lives” Sierra Magazine

Culture Jam fizzes with life. For the first few chapters, it seems as if almost every page contains either a new idea or an old one dressed in different clothes… The key to kicking Dystopia into touch, both in Huxley's imagined world and in today's real one, is getting outside that system; recognising it for what it is, then starting to think about how to subvert it. How to do that? Where to start? Well, reading this book will give you a hefty shove in the right direction.” The Ecologist  





"Silent Theft: 

The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth" 

David Bollier

In "Silent Theft", David Bollier argues that a great untold story of our time is the staggering privatization and abuse of our common wealth. Corporations are engaged in a relentless plunder of dozens of resources that we collectively own—publicly funded medical breakthroughs, software innovation, the airwaves, the public domain of creative works, and even the DNA of plants, animals and humans. Too often, however, our government turns a blind eye—or sometimes helps give away our assets. Amazingly, the silent theft of our shared wealth has gone largely unnoticed because we have lost our ability to see the commons. Spooling out one outrageous story after another, Bollier skillfully weaves together debates about the Internet, the environment, biotechnology, and the communications revolution. His fresh and compelling critique illuminates a rarely explored landscape in our political and cultural life.  

"A tour de force narrative that draws the reader into high alert...." Ralph Nader  

"The electromagnetic spectrum is a prime example of what David Bollier calls a "commons" in his provocative new book, Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth. Historically, the word "commons" referred to real estate--public grazing grounds or tidewater fisheries. Today the term describes not only land such as national forests, but also intangible assets like the human-gene sequence.




Bollier argues that in case after case of a resource once held to belong to all, private interests are eroding public ownership. Is there oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? Let industry appropriate the land. Is there money to be made in manipulating the gene sequence? Let biotechnology firms patent it. Tension between private and public interests is as old as the republic, Bollier admits. "But today we live in a troubling new stage of this struggle that differs in scope and ferocity from previous ones." Newsweek                 

 English folk poem, circa 1764

They hang the man and flog the woman
That steal the goose from off the common,
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.

The Law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don't escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common'
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

          found in "Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of our Common Wealth"






"It’s the Media, Stupid"

John Nichols and Bob McChesney



"With It’s the Media, Stupid! we move beyond a mere list of complaints about the commercial media system as it exists; we have an institutional analysis of the system that accounts for its hypercommercial and anti-democratic tendencies. John Nichols and Bob McChesney provide a careful description of the problem’s various manifestations, and lay out a blueprint for media reform. As they show, there are multiple complementary points of intervention in which critics, activists, teachers, reporters, parents, and people who just want better quality media and less crap all have roles to play. Janine Jackson, Program Director Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting  

"McChesney’s work has been of extraordinary should be read with care and concern by people who care about freedom and basic rights." Noam Chomsky

"Robert McChesney is one of the nation’s most important analysts of the media." Howard Zinn







"Extra!" is Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's hard-hitting bimonthly magazine of well-documented media criticism.  


Published by FAIR since 1987, Extra! looks at the major issues in the news, questioning the conventional wisdom that narrows the range of issues, sources and perspectives. Articles examine biased reporting, censored news, media mergers, press/state cronyism, the power of corporate owners and advertisers, and the exclusion of progressive voices from the media.  


Extra! receives no money from advertisers or corporate underwriters, and depends on subscribers for its existence.  






published by The Media Foundation


"A slick, subversive little magazine dedicated to fighting the pollution of the mental environment." Kalle Lasn, cofounder, Media Foundation 

"Indeed, an anti-consumerist counterculture is growing, and will likely take root most deeply with the generation now in college. You can see glimpses of it in the anti-globalization movement, which tends to target companies with the slickest marketing campaigns. You can see it in groups such as the Vancouver-based non-profit organization Adbusters, founded by Generation Xers, which devotes itself to mocking advertisements in a sophisticated and cutting manner." USA Today 

"What a fantasy vehicle that magazine (Adbusters) is...It's just a systematic manufacturer of nonsense and we don't ever resist this nonsense...Marketers should be particularly offended at the false notions of advertising portrayed in publications like Adbusters magazine...Everybody thinks (advertisers are) the spawn of the devil, that we engage in this manipulation of consciousness and create false needs" Grant McCracken, "cultural anthropologist"







Public Broadcasting and the Public Interest 

by Michael P. McCauley (Editor), Eric E. Peterson (Editor), B. Lee Artz (Editor), Deedee Halleck (Editor)



Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Radical Media Criticism 

by Ben Scott (Editor), Robert Waterman McChesney (Editor)



Framed!: Labor and the Corporate Media 

by Christopher R. Martin



Attacks on the Press in 2002: 

A Worldwide Survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists 

Serge Schmemann



Tell Me Lies: Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq 

by David Miller (Editor), John Pilger (Introduction), Mark Thomas



The Seven Deadly Spins : Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda 

by Mickey Z (Author)



New Media in the Muslim World: The Emerging Public Sphere 

by Dale F. Eickelman (Editor), Jon W. Anderson (Editor), Mark Tessler (Editor)



Invisible Enemy: Israel, Politics, Media, and American Culture 

by Edward Abboud



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