This week Mac McCaughan (left) of the bands Superchunk and Portastatic and the influential label Merge, which has released approx 300 albums to date and which he launched along with fellow Superchunk member Laura Balance, spoke to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation at a hearing titled "The Future of Radio." The hearing, which is not to be confused with the House of Representatives' Girl Talk-referencing copyright hearing from several months ago, took place on Wednesday, October 24th and is available in full transcript in PDF file by clicking here (finally your tax dollars at work doing something worthwhile).
According to the Committee's website, the purpose of the "The Future of Radio" hearing was to "assess the state of innovation and competition in the radio market." And the Superchunk singer/guitarist's testimony stressed the importance of the role that non-commercial radio has played in introducing independent musicians to wider audiences. He mentions Merge Records' instances like the Arcade Fire and Spoon -- two highly successful bands whose albums this year debuted in the Billboard Top Ten. McCaughan also addressed the power of the internet, as well as the importance of maintaining network neutrality so that commercial and technological experimentation can continue. Additionally, McCaughan urged the Committee to resist corporate pressure to loosen ownership restrictions in order to avoid a potential media monopoly, something that many others have voiced concern over.
In addressing the hearing Mac accurately noted that it has been reported "that the FCC is considering altering the media ownership rules again and loosening the local ownership caps to allow major radio groups to buy even more stations in each market. No matter what your tastes in entertainment or news, if you value localism, competition and diversity, Congress and the FCC must recognize that further deregulation is not the answer." A true supporter of independent and alternative artists, he also noted that artists who "thrive outside of the commercial realm depend on and deserve open access to public platforms such as the airwaves and the internet. Likewise, communities and citizens should have access to localized and diverse media. This is not just a means of doing business, but also an important facet of American life that needs to be nurtured and protected."
And for this speech/address, I say God Bless Mac and individuals like him who are take a stand and are proactive in doing something positive about affecting the future. As I said earlier, click on link in first paragraph to read the full transcript.