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March 18, 2009
'Broadcast Blues' Sunday at the Crest

Sue Wilson, director "Broadcast Blues," a documentary lamenting the erosion of the contrasting-views concept in the wake of deregulation and media conglomerates, knows of what she speaks. An Emmy-winning former news producer, she worked at Los Angeles' KCBS back in the days of Jim Lampley, Keith Olbermann and even the Fairness Doctrine.

In the time since, she has seen many broadcast stations' "public interest obligation become a shareholder obligation," said Wilson, 50, who lives in Amador County and has worked locally at Channel 6 (KVIE) and KXJZ (90.9 FM)

"Broadcast Blues," which plays 2 p.m. Sunday at the Crest Theatre, maintains that corporate ownership of (overwhelmingly conservative) talk-radio stations hinders real political discourse and that fewer locally owned stations means less stewardship of decency standards and emergency broadcast systems and fewer opportunities for listeners to lodge complaints locally.

Wilson interviews several national figures in the film, including actor Danny Glover and talk-show host Phil Donahue. She also touches on the case of Jennifer Strange, the 28-year-old Rancho Cordova woman who died in 2007 after a water-drinking contest at KDND (107.9 The End). The FCC has not acted on the Strange family's request to revoke the station's license, Wilson says, and has instead issued 14 more licenses to its parent company, Entercom.

"If they can't keep their nose clean in Sacramento, why are we giving them more licenses?" asks Wilson.

Wilson made the film, she says, to remind people that broadcasters, through their licensing process, promise to uphold the public interest, and that the public can hold them -- and the FCC -- accountable.

"If people become aware of this, we can get the (broadcasters) to start paying attention to us once again," Wilson said.

During the four years she spent making the film, Wilson sought information from the FCC, which has yet to respond to her Freedom of Information Act request request. She also sought an interview with media giant Clear Channel, which declined comment.

If the documentary itself seems one-sided, that's not what Wilson intended.

"If they just won't call you back ... at some point, I have a story to tell and I have to tell it without them," Wilson said.

Tickets are $10 ($5 for students) and are available at the Crest box office at 1013 K St., and through The filmmakers will share proceeds from the screening will Access Sacramento and media Watchdog groups Sacramento Media Group and California Common Cause. All proceeds from a noon fund-raising luncheon at the Crest Cafe (next to the theater) will benefit the same groups.

At 1:30 p.m., Wilson will lead a protest of Rush Limbaugh and "hate radio" in front of the Crest.

For information, call (916) 456-8600 or 443-1792. ext. 11 or visit the movie's Web site.

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