KVOS taken over by Clear Channel

I checked the TV schedule last night, and it said that KVOS in Bellingham (channel 23 on cable, or channel 12 on the airwaves) was showing the film "A Soldier's Story", starring Howard E. Rollins Jr. This is a good one, so I sat down in front of my TV at 8 PM, and put it on channel 23. A voice came on the air telling me that "A Soldier's Story", a World War II story about a black officer who has three days to solve a murder case, is coming up next. When the opening credits start, however, the film is a completely different one, starring Liam Neeson.

I can rent "A Soldier's Story" from Blockbuster or Rogers Video any time I want to, and see it uninterrupted by commercials. However, the story behind this blunder hasn't gotten much attention in the local media, so I'm going to let you in on it.

KVOS was bought by the media conglomerate Clear Channel a couple of years ago. They recently eliminated most what was already a small production staff in Bellingham. Now, most of the programming that KVOS broadcasts originates at Clear Channel's headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some wires got crossed between Tulsa and Bellingham over what film was to be shown Saturday night, and there probably wasn't anyone around to phone the head office and tell them that they sent the wrong film.

Before Bill Moyers retired from PBS's "Now" program, he did frequent and hard-hitting stories on concentration of media ownership in the US, and and specifically about Clear Channel, which owns over 1,000 radio stations.

It's understandable that happenings at KVOS are not going to turn heads within their market area, which is the Lower Mainland. After all, KVOS had little local content before Clear Channel bought it. It's worth knowing, however, that Clear Channel is the major (possibly only) funder behind "Rally for America", which mobilizes support for the war in Iraq. Clear Channel then reports "Rally for America" activities as news, effectively creating a closed loop. While KVOS doesn't broadcast news programs, I'll be surprised if they air "Three Kings", "Bulworth", or any of Michael Moore's films anytime soon.

I'll leave you with a URL, for a Seattle-based organization, Reclaim the Media: http://www.reclaimthemedia.org/.

Story from the Bellingham Herald: KVOS-TV lays off 6 station employees