In 1983, more than 50 companies owned 90% of the media in the United States. Today, thanks to consolidations, buyouts, and mergers, 6 companies control the same 90% of all U.S. media. With such a stranglehold on American media outlets, it has become difficult to find a news source that doesn’t have to curtail their reporting based on the views and actions of corporate shareholders and advertisers.
It is this same media consolidation that has allowed conservative media outlets to flourish, as they are statistically less likely to go after a corporation that has wronged the public. In fact, in most U.S. radio and TV markets, as much as 90% of the media is devoted to conservative viewpoints and ideology.
Those are some startling numbers, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any hope for getting honest, progressive news and information. In fact, there is one outlet that has been in existence longer than any other progressive news outlet in America that is pumping out trustworthy news with a progressive bent for almost 2 decades. That outlet is Free Speech TV.
Free Speech TV was officially launched in 1995, the very first venture of its kind. And since the network is a non-profit, there is absolutely no corporate control over the content, and the network doesn’t have to pull any punches to appease advertisers. The network is sustained completely by license fees and donations from viewers.
The network is currently available in more than 37 million homes across the country, making it one of the largest distributions ever in progressive media’s history. That wide distribution has helped Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Thom Hartmann of The Thom Hartmann Program and The Big Picture, and David Pakman of The David Pakman Show become some of the most well-known and some of the most widely listened to progressive talkers in America.
The network has been expanding aggressively since its beginnings almost 20 years ago, and continues to add more and more programs designed to present honest, trustworthy news to viewers. One of those new programs is our very own Ring of Fire, hosted by Mike Papantonio (brought to viewers by The National Trial Lawyers.) When asked for comment on the future of the network, Papantonio said, “There’s no question in my mind that it is full tilt expansion of Free Speech TV in the progressive voice market. That’s why they have asked Bobby Kennedy, Sam Seder, myself, and some of the best attorneys in America to go forward with this program.”
While Free Speech TV has been in the business longer than any other progressive media outlet, many progressives are just now hearing about the channel. And as the future of Current TV’s lineup of exceptional hosts remains unclear after the network’s buyout by Al Jazeera, the reach of all progressive media has shrunk. But Free Speech TV continues to grow, and without the burden of corporate control, the network will continue to be able to produce unbiased reporting on the stories that matter the most to progressives, and to all of America.
Farron Cousins is the Executive Editor of The Trial Lawyer Magazine, a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com, and a producer for Ring of Fire.