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KOGO invites Padres' Larry Luchino as host

Rigged media

— On September 18 -- the last day of KOGO talk-show host Roger Hedgecock's annual vacation -- the station filled in for him by inviting Larry Lucchino, CEO and minority owner of the San Diego Padres, to guest host. Lucchino, his guests, and call-in listeners discussed subjects ranging from the Padres' playoff chances to the fireworks set off at the Padres' scoreboard when Chicago Cubs' slugger Sammy Sosa hit his record-tying 63rd home run of the season. But so much of the show centered around Proposition C on the November ballot -- the controversial proposal to allocate nearly $300 million of public money to build the Padres a baseball-only stadium downtown -- that one opponent of the project called the show "a two-and-a-half-hour infomercial for Proposition C."

The show was introduced by two tape-recorded lead-ins by Hedgecock himself, one of which called the guest host "my friend, Larry Lucchino." In the other, Hedgecock introduced the topics of the show as "baseball, playoffs, World Series and -- what about those plans for a new downtown ballpark?" The show coincided with a downtown rally, ostensibly to celebrate the Padres' winning the National League West championship but actually organized by the Committee of 2000, the official campaign organization supporting Proposition C.

Producer Jimmy Valentine said that Lucchino was given full control of his program, just like all the other guest hosts who filled in for Hedgecock on his vacation. "We gave the broadcast to each of our guest hosts to use as they saw fit," Valentine said. He also insisted that "the bulk of the show had nothing to do with C." But a tally based on a transcript of the broadcast indicated that 8 callers (including 3 of Lucchino's invited guests) unequivocally endorsed the stadium project, 2 others supported it but expressed concerns, 1 (the next-to-last caller) opposed it, and only 8 of the 19 total callers didn't discuss the stadium at all.

A variety of people were enlisted to support the stadium project on the air. "Every player on this team knows the importance of getting a new ballpark, what it means to keeping a competitive team on the field," said Padres center-fielder Steve Finley. ESPN sports commentator Peter Gammons credited new downtown ballparks with revitalizing Baltimore, Denver, and Cleveland. City councilmember Byron Wear appeared to announce an accounting study by Deloitte & Touche that, he claimed, "shows...we did make the right decision to move forward with this project."

Rank-and-file callers not only boosted the stadium proposal but also ridiculed its opponents. One caller, identified only as "Chris," joked that the stadium should be called the "Bruce Henderson Memorial Field" -- after the former city councilmember who filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to block the project -- and said, "It could kind of be like our own version of the Meadowlands/Jimmy Hoffa. You just wouldn't know exactly where Henderson was, somewhere in the ballpark, you know?"

KOGO's news reporter Whitney Southwick also got into the promotional swing of things. Reporting live from the Committee of 2000's "pep rally" downtown, Southwick called the Proposition C campaign "the next battle, after winning -- what? First the playoffs, and then the Big One, huh?" And Lucchino himself, following up on Gammons's statement that he'd been impressed with the quality of the San Diego fans' response to Sammy Sosa during the Padres-Cubs games, said, "We have faith that, with the right kind of facility, this can be an exceptional baseball town.... And, of course, if I can do a shameless political plug here, so much of that future will depend on our ability to be successful on November 3 with Proposition C."

Lucchino's broadcast did include some criticisms of the stadium project, but two of the three callers who expressed doubts about it said they were going to vote for it anyway.

Only "Randy," the next-to-last caller, asked what stadium opponents consider the $64 million question: Why wealthy team owners (Padres' majority owner John Moores is reportedly worth $600 million personally) feel they need almost $300 million in public money for the project. "If it was such a great deal, why doesn't private money come into it?" Lucchino didn't answer him at all. (Actually, under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Padres and the city, the Padres are obliged to raise $115 million in private-sector contributions, 28 percent of the total budget, but are not required to make that entire investment themselves.)

Opponents of Proposition C called the Lucchino broadcast irresponsibly one-sided. "A number of people from our side called in, and they would put us on hold for about ten minutes and then hung up on us," said Chris Michaels, co-chair of Strike Three on Proposition C (S.T.O.P. C), the official campaign against the proposal. "Later on we called up Jimmy Valentine and asked if they would give us equal time for a show against Proposition C. He said, 'We don't do equal time.' "

"We don't," Valentine said when asked to confirm Michaels's story. "The equal-time provisions were struck down by the Supreme Court years ago. We provide balanced coverage, but equal time doesn't apply." As evidence that KOGO was providing "balanced coverage" on the issue, Valentine cited an on-air debate on Hedgecock's program August 24 and said Hedgecock's last show before election day, November 2, will be given over completely to another debate on Proposition C.

Valentine also claimed that Hedgecock hasn't made up his own mind how he's going to vote on Proposition C -- even though some of Hedgecock's on-air comments before his vacation mirrored the pro-C literature, notably the claim that the stadium will be funded completely by hotel taxes and redevelopment tax increments and won't involve new taxes on San Diego residents. "He's still not convinced, and he's concerned about some aspects of the financing."

San Diego isn't the only city in which a radio station owned by KOGO's parent company, the Cincinnati-based Jacor Communications, is being accused of favoring a sports-team owner seeking a public subsidy for a new stadium. In Denver, Citizens Opposing the Stadium Tax (COST), the official campaign against a November 3 referendum to finance a new stadium for the Denver Broncos football team, complained to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that hosts on Jacor stations were being ordered to support the Broncos referendum because Jacor's Denver stations broadcast both Broncos and Rockies games. (In San Diego, Padres games are broadcast by KFMB, a non-Jacor station that is also a major competitor to KOGO in talk shows.)

"We held a press conference to announce that we were writing a letter to the chair of the FCC to request an investigation and whatever punitive action was appropriate," said COST official Ray Hutchins. "We said that Jacor, which dominates talk radio in Denver and is a close ally of the Denver Broncos, was trying to manipulate an election in which it had a financial interest and was using the public airwaves to do so. We thought this was in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Communications Act of 1934, and we wanted the FCC to do something about it."

One of Hutchins's most dramatic charges was that Jacor employees were being ordered to support the Broncos stadium project -- or else. "We also charged in there that there was a Jacor employee who had called me personally and said that he was told to support the Broncos or face losing his job," Hutchins said. "I would not reveal the name of the individual, but they were incensed that they were being told what to do. Since then another Jacor employee has called me and said that he was told that he could not oppose the stadium; that if he wasn't for it, to keep his mouth shut."

Hutchins said his group filed the complaint knowing full well that there were no legal grounds for it. "I had already called up there, and I had read the Communications Act as it pertained to this component of elections, and I knew that they weren't in violation. I talked to an FCC lawyer who reconfirmed that notion, and so I knew that. But it didn't matter. It was the press conference and the chance to raise hell on the issue. And we got a bunch of publicity out of it, in all the newspapers and on the radio talk stations."

Jacor officials denied Hutchins's charges of employee intimidation. "I defy them to find one radio or television station in this state that had more anti-stadium issues brought up," Jacor general manager Lee Larsen told the Denver Post. "Overwhelmingly our hosts are pro-stadium, but that's not because of orders from us." But Hutchins said his group's charges against Jacor gave them the leverage they needed to get onto local radio talk shows -- including Jacor's -- and discuss not only their allegations against Jacor but the overall issues involved in the stadium campaign.

Ironically, until the 1980s Hutchins's group probably would have had legal leverage to challenge Jacor's coverage of the stadium issue. The original Communications Act of 1934 contained a so-called "equal time provision," which said that licensed broadcasters who covered one side of a political issue had to give the same amount of time to the other side. In 1949, the FCC enacted the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," which required broadcasters not only to cover all sides of controversial issues but to seek out spokespeople to make sure their broadcasts represented all points of view.

In 1963, the FCC issued the Cullman doctrine, which went even further. Cullman required a broadcaster, under certain circumstances, to present free time to opponents of a point of view promoted on a sponsored program. The theory was that denying time on the air to people representing a legitimate point of view on a political or social issue just because they couldn't afford to pay for it would "thus leave the public uninformed." Under Cullman, underfunded campaigns for candidates or for-or-against ballot measures could get some compensation against the paid commercials of wealthy opponents -- usually one free spot for every four to seven paid spots on the other side.

All these laws and FCC policies were reversed after Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. Reagan's appointee as FCC chair, Mark Fowler, announced from the moment he took office that he would deregulate the broadcasting business as much as possible and leave licensed broadcasters free to do whatever they wanted with political issues and other public affairs. In 1987, the FCC finally abolished the Fairness Doctrine. Congress attempted to re-enact it legislatively, but President Reagan vetoed the bill. In 1989, President Bush announced that he, too, would veto any such legislation.

According to Robert McChesney, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and author of Telecommunications, Mass Media and Democracy, it was the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine that made the current popular conservative talk-show format of broadcasters like Hedgecock, Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, and Oliver North possible. But it was another major change in broadcasting law -- the Telecommunications Act of 1996 -- that allowed chains like Jacor to take near-monopoly positions on radio stations in certain cities. The 1996 law "deregulated ownership of radio stations dramatically," McChesney explained. "Companies can now own up to eight stations in a single market, or up to 50 percent of the area's total radio revenues. That law has led to a sweeping wave of consolidation of ownership of U.S. radio in the past two years, and Jacor is one of the main beneficiaries."

McChesney identified four companies -- Jacor, Dallas-based Hicks Communications, Investment House (owners of the Capstar and Chancellor radio chains) and cbs -- as the companies most aggressively using the 1996 Telecommunications Act to expand their market shares and revenues. These four companies own 20 to 25 percent of all radio stations and revenues in the U.S., McChesney said.

Among the 205 Jacor-affiliated stations are 12 in the San Diego area (2 of which -- XTRA-AM and fm -- are technically based in Mexico and therefore aren't subject even to the few FCC rules that are left) and 8 in Denver. Two of Jacor's Denver stations, khow-am and ktlk-am, are talk stations, while the format of a third, koa-am, is listed as "News/Talk/Sports" on Jacor's Web site. In San Diego, Jacor acquired ksdo-am from Gannett Communications in 1996 and moved ksdo's flagship talk hosts, Limbaugh and Hedgecock, to KOGO to create the kind of continuous conservative talk programming that had been successful in other cities. Jacor's only sports coverage in San Diego is on the "Sports/Talk" station XTRA-AM.

Both McChesney and Joanna Cagan, co-author with Neil de Mause of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit, have noted that along with the consolidation of media outlets, there's another trend: media companies becoming sports team owners themselves. Media buy-ins into sports franchises range from the famous ones -- notably mogul Rupert Murdoch's recent purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers (which Padres owners Lucchino and John Moores tried to block) -- to more minor interests like Jacor's purchase of a small (less than 5 percent) share in the Colorado Rockies to safeguard their broadcast rights to the team's games.

According to Cagan, local media -- both broadcast and print -- tend to favor stadium projects in their coverage. "I haven't seen any city in which the advocates against the stadium got anywhere near the same coverage as the advocates in favor of it," Cagan said. "In fact, an average reader might not even realize there's an opposition. I thought most of the coverage in San Diego was at least somewhat tainted with this sort of cheerleading aspect."

Cagan did say that in almost every city she's monitored, there has been at least one writer for a local daily newspaper who has been willing to criticize the financing of a pending stadium deal -- a role being filled in the current San Diego controversy by Union-Tribune senior financial columnist Don Bauder. But, she said, "A lot of the coverage in San Diego was what I've seen in other media: very dramatic headlines and broadcast lead-ins of what we need to do to save our team, and what our teams need to do to be competitive. To me, that's the media not doing their job."

Still, despite the odds against them, local opponents of Proposition C intend to take advantage of whatever opportunities for media coverage do open up. In some cases, they're doing what little they can still do under current media law to open up those opportunities themselves. Independent activist and self-proclaimed "average citizen" Chuck Rickman organized several people, independent of the S.T.O.P. C campaign, to monitor the local media and document whether they covered the issue fairly. "People are going to make their decision at the polls, but if they only hear one side of the story, they can't make that decision fairly or from a fully informed perspective," Rickman said. "I really believe the Fairness Doctrine should be introduced."

Rickman also wrote letters to the public files of all four local TV stations with news reports (Channels 8, 10, 39/7 and 51/9) -- files of community responses, which the stations are still required to keep and make available both to members of the public and the FCC -- claiming that their coverage of the stadium issue had been biased in favor of the plan. What's more, according to Rickman, his letters actually got a response from at least one station. "Channel 10 did, miraculously, put on two marvelous half-hour debates on Proposition C after I contacted them," Rickman said. "I don't know if I had anything to do with that, but they did write me afterwards and thanked me for my letter."

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— On September 18 -- the last day of KOGO talk-show host Roger Hedgecock's annual vacation -- the station filled in for him by inviting Larry Lucchino, CEO and minority owner of the San Diego Padres, to guest host. Lucchino, his guests, and call-in listeners discussed subjects ranging from the Padres' playoff chances to the fireworks set off at the Padres' scoreboard when Chicago Cubs' slugger Sammy Sosa hit his record-tying 63rd home run of the season. But so much of the show centered around Proposition C on the November ballot -- the controversial proposal to allocate nearly $300 million of public money to build the Padres a baseball-only stadium downtown -- that one opponent of the project called the show "a two-and-a-half-hour infomercial for Proposition C."

The show was introduced by two tape-recorded lead-ins by Hedgecock himself, one of which called the guest host "my friend, Larry Lucchino." In the other, Hedgecock introduced the topics of the show as "baseball, playoffs, World Series and -- what about those plans for a new downtown ballpark?" The show coincided with a downtown rally, ostensibly to celebrate the Padres' winning the National League West championship but actually organized by the Committee of 2000, the official campaign organization supporting Proposition C.

Producer Jimmy Valentine said that Lucchino was given full control of his program, just like all the other guest hosts who filled in for Hedgecock on his vacation. "We gave the broadcast to each of our guest hosts to use as they saw fit," Valentine said. He also insisted that "the bulk of the show had nothing to do with C." But a tally based on a transcript of the broadcast indicated that 8 callers (including 3 of Lucchino's invited guests) unequivocally endorsed the stadium project, 2 others supported it but expressed concerns, 1 (the next-to-last caller) opposed it, and only 8 of the 19 total callers didn't discuss the stadium at all.

A variety of people were enlisted to support the stadium project on the air. "Every player on this team knows the importance of getting a new ballpark, what it means to keeping a competitive team on the field," said Padres center-fielder Steve Finley. ESPN sports commentator Peter Gammons credited new downtown ballparks with revitalizing Baltimore, Denver, and Cleveland. City councilmember Byron Wear appeared to announce an accounting study by Deloitte & Touche that, he claimed, "shows...we did make the right decision to move forward with this project."

Rank-and-file callers not only boosted the stadium proposal but also ridiculed its opponents. One caller, identified only as "Chris," joked that the stadium should be called the "Bruce Henderson Memorial Field" -- after the former city councilmember who filed an unsuccessful lawsuit to block the project -- and said, "It could kind of be like our own version of the Meadowlands/Jimmy Hoffa. You just wouldn't know exactly where Henderson was, somewhere in the ballpark, you know?"

KOGO's news reporter Whitney Southwick also got into the promotional swing of things. Reporting live from the Committee of 2000's "pep rally" downtown, Southwick called the Proposition C campaign "the next battle, after winning -- what? First the playoffs, and then the Big One, huh?" And Lucchino himself, following up on Gammons's statement that he'd been impressed with the quality of the San Diego fans' response to Sammy Sosa during the Padres-Cubs games, said, "We have faith that, with the right kind of facility, this can be an exceptional baseball town.... And, of course, if I can do a shameless political plug here, so much of that future will depend on our ability to be successful on November 3 with Proposition C."

Lucchino's broadcast did include some criticisms of the stadium project, but two of the three callers who expressed doubts about it said they were going to vote for it anyway.

Only "Randy," the next-to-last caller, asked what stadium opponents consider the $64 million question: Why wealthy team owners (Padres' majority owner John Moores is reportedly worth $600 million personally) feel they need almost $300 million in public money for the project. "If it was such a great deal, why doesn't private money come into it?" Lucchino didn't answer him at all. (Actually, under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Padres and the city, the Padres are obliged to raise $115 million in private-sector contributions, 28 percent of the total budget, but are not required to make that entire investment themselves.)

Opponents of Proposition C called the Lucchino broadcast irresponsibly one-sided. "A number of people from our side called in, and they would put us on hold for about ten minutes and then hung up on us," said Chris Michaels, co-chair of Strike Three on Proposition C (S.T.O.P. C), the official campaign against the proposal. "Later on we called up Jimmy Valentine and asked if they would give us equal time for a show against Proposition C. He said, 'We don't do equal time.' "

"We don't," Valentine said when asked to confirm Michaels's story. "The equal-time provisions were struck down by the Supreme Court years ago. We provide balanced coverage, but equal time doesn't apply." As evidence that KOGO was providing "balanced coverage" on the issue, Valentine cited an on-air debate on Hedgecock's program August 24 and said Hedgecock's last show before election day, November 2, will be given over completely to another debate on Proposition C.

Valentine also claimed that Hedgecock hasn't made up his own mind how he's going to vote on Proposition C -- even though some of Hedgecock's on-air comments before his vacation mirrored the pro-C literature, notably the claim that the stadium will be funded completely by hotel taxes and redevelopment tax increments and won't involve new taxes on San Diego residents. "He's still not convinced, and he's concerned about some aspects of the financing."

San Diego isn't the only city in which a radio station owned by KOGO's parent company, the Cincinnati-based Jacor Communications, is being accused of favoring a sports-team owner seeking a public subsidy for a new stadium. In Denver, Citizens Opposing the Stadium Tax (COST), the official campaign against a November 3 referendum to finance a new stadium for the Denver Broncos football team, complained to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that hosts on Jacor stations were being ordered to support the Broncos referendum because Jacor's Denver stations broadcast both Broncos and Rockies games. (In San Diego, Padres games are broadcast by KFMB, a non-Jacor station that is also a major competitor to KOGO in talk shows.)

"We held a press conference to announce that we were writing a letter to the chair of the FCC to request an investigation and whatever punitive action was appropriate," said COST official Ray Hutchins. "We said that Jacor, which dominates talk radio in Denver and is a close ally of the Denver Broncos, was trying to manipulate an election in which it had a financial interest and was using the public airwaves to do so. We thought this was in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Communications Act of 1934, and we wanted the FCC to do something about it."

One of Hutchins's most dramatic charges was that Jacor employees were being ordered to support the Broncos stadium project -- or else. "We also charged in there that there was a Jacor employee who had called me personally and said that he was told to support the Broncos or face losing his job," Hutchins said. "I would not reveal the name of the individual, but they were incensed that they were being told what to do. Since then another Jacor employee has called me and said that he was told that he could not oppose the stadium; that if he wasn't for it, to keep his mouth shut."

Hutchins said his group filed the complaint knowing full well that there were no legal grounds for it. "I had already called up there, and I had read the Communications Act as it pertained to this component of elections, and I knew that they weren't in violation. I talked to an FCC lawyer who reconfirmed that notion, and so I knew that. But it didn't matter. It was the press conference and the chance to raise hell on the issue. And we got a bunch of publicity out of it, in all the newspapers and on the radio talk stations."

Jacor officials denied Hutchins's charges of employee intimidation. "I defy them to find one radio or television station in this state that had more anti-stadium issues brought up," Jacor general manager Lee Larsen told the Denver Post. "Overwhelmingly our hosts are pro-stadium, but that's not because of orders from us." But Hutchins said his group's charges against Jacor gave them the leverage they needed to get onto local radio talk shows -- including Jacor's -- and discuss not only their allegations against Jacor but the overall issues involved in the stadium campaign.

Ironically, until the 1980s Hutchins's group probably would have had legal leverage to challenge Jacor's coverage of the stadium issue. The original Communications Act of 1934 contained a so-called "equal time provision," which said that licensed broadcasters who covered one side of a political issue had to give the same amount of time to the other side. In 1949, the FCC enacted the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," which required broadcasters not only to cover all sides of controversial issues but to seek out spokespeople to make sure their broadcasts represented all points of view.

In 1963, the FCC issued the Cullman doctrine, which went even further. Cullman required a broadcaster, under certain circumstances, to present free time to opponents of a point of view promoted on a sponsored program. The theory was that denying time on the air to people representing a legitimate point of view on a political or social issue just because they couldn't afford to pay for it would "thus leave the public uninformed." Under Cullman, underfunded campaigns for candidates or for-or-against ballot measures could get some compensation against the paid commercials of wealthy opponents -- usually one free spot for every four to seven paid spots on the other side.

All these laws and FCC policies were reversed after Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. Reagan's appointee as FCC chair, Mark Fowler, announced from the moment he took office that he would deregulate the broadcasting business as much as possible and leave licensed broadcasters free to do whatever they wanted with political issues and other public affairs. In 1987, the FCC finally abolished the Fairness Doctrine. Congress attempted to re-enact it legislatively, but President Reagan vetoed the bill. In 1989, President Bush announced that he, too, would veto any such legislation.

According to Robert McChesney, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and author of Telecommunications, Mass Media and Democracy, it was the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine that made the current popular conservative talk-show format of broadcasters like Hedgecock, Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, and Oliver North possible. But it was another major change in broadcasting law -- the Telecommunications Act of 1996 -- that allowed chains like Jacor to take near-monopoly positions on radio stations in certain cities. The 1996 law "deregulated ownership of radio stations dramatically," McChesney explained. "Companies can now own up to eight stations in a single market, or up to 50 percent of the area's total radio revenues. That law has led to a sweeping wave of consolidation of ownership of U.S. radio in the past two years, and Jacor is one of the main beneficiaries."

McChesney identified four companies -- Jacor, Dallas-based Hicks Communications, Investment House (owners of the Capstar and Chancellor radio chains) and cbs -- as the companies most aggressively using the 1996 Telecommunications Act to expand their market shares and revenues. These four companies own 20 to 25 percent of all radio stations and revenues in the U.S., McChesney said.

Among the 205 Jacor-affiliated stations are 12 in the San Diego area (2 of which -- XTRA-AM and fm -- are technically based in Mexico and therefore aren't subject even to the few FCC rules that are left) and 8 in Denver. Two of Jacor's Denver stations, khow-am and ktlk-am, are talk stations, while the format of a third, koa-am, is listed as "News/Talk/Sports" on Jacor's Web site. In San Diego, Jacor acquired ksdo-am from Gannett Communications in 1996 and moved ksdo's flagship talk hosts, Limbaugh and Hedgecock, to KOGO to create the kind of continuous conservative talk programming that had been successful in other cities. Jacor's only sports coverage in San Diego is on the "Sports/Talk" station XTRA-AM.

Both McChesney and Joanna Cagan, co-author with Neil de Mause of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit, have noted that along with the consolidation of media outlets, there's another trend: media companies becoming sports team owners themselves. Media buy-ins into sports franchises range from the famous ones -- notably mogul Rupert Murdoch's recent purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers (which Padres owners Lucchino and John Moores tried to block) -- to more minor interests like Jacor's purchase of a small (less than 5 percent) share in the Colorado Rockies to safeguard their broadcast rights to the team's games.

According to Cagan, local media -- both broadcast and print -- tend to favor stadium projects in their coverage. "I haven't seen any city in which the advocates against the stadium got anywhere near the same coverage as the advocates in favor of it," Cagan said. "In fact, an average reader might not even realize there's an opposition. I thought most of the coverage in San Diego was at least somewhat tainted with this sort of cheerleading aspect."

Cagan did say that in almost every city she's monitored, there has been at least one writer for a local daily newspaper who has been willing to criticize the financing of a pending stadium deal -- a role being filled in the current San Diego controversy by Union-Tribune senior financial columnist Don Bauder. But, she said, "A lot of the coverage in San Diego was what I've seen in other media: very dramatic headlines and broadcast lead-ins of what we need to do to save our team, and what our teams need to do to be competitive. To me, that's the media not doing their job."

Still, despite the odds against them, local opponents of Proposition C intend to take advantage of whatever opportunities for media coverage do open up. In some cases, they're doing what little they can still do under current media law to open up those opportunities themselves. Independent activist and self-proclaimed "average citizen" Chuck Rickman organized several people, independent of the S.T.O.P. C campaign, to monitor the local media and document whether they covered the issue fairly. "People are going to make their decision at the polls, but if they only hear one side of the story, they can't make that decision fairly or from a fully informed perspective," Rickman said. "I really believe the Fairness Doctrine should be introduced."

Rickman also wrote letters to the public files of all four local TV stations with news reports (Channels 8, 10, 39/7 and 51/9) -- files of community responses, which the stations are still required to keep and make available both to members of the public and the FCC -- claiming that their coverage of the stadium issue had been biased in favor of the plan. What's more, according to Rickman, his letters actually got a response from at least one station. "Channel 10 did, miraculously, put on two marvelous half-hour debates on Proposition C after I contacted them," Rickman said. "I don't know if I had anything to do with that, but they did write me afterwards and thanked me for my letter."

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