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Changing Channels: The Civil Rights Case That Transformed Television


Changing Channels: The Civil Rights Case That Transformed Television Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the years before the civil rights era, American broadcasting reflected the interests of the white mainstream, especially in the South. Today, the face of local television throughout the nation mirrors the diversity of the local populations. The impetus for change began in 1964, when the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ and two black Mississippians, Aaron Henry and Reverend R. L. T. Smith, challenged the broadcasting license of WLBT, an NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi. The lawsuit was the catalyst that would bring social reform to American broadcasting. This station in a city whose population was 40 percent black was charged with failure to give fair coverage to civil rights and to integration issues that were dominating the news. Among offenses cited by the black population were the cancellation of a network interview with the civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall and editorializing against the integration of the University of Mississippi. However, muscle, money, and a powerhouse Washington, D.C., law firm were on the side of the station. Despite the charges, the Federal Communications Commission twice renewed the station's license. Twice the challengers won appeals to the federal courts. Warren Burger, then a federal appeals court judge, wrote decisions on both challenges. The first ordered the FCC to allow public participation in its proceedings. The second, an unprecedented move, took the license from WLBT. This well-told, deeply researched history of the case covers the legal battles over their more than fifteen years and reports the ultimate victory for civil rights. Aaron Henry, a black civil rights leader and one of the plaintiffs, became the station's chairman of the board. WLBT's new manager, William Dilday, was the first black person in the South to hold such a position. Burger's decision on this Mississippi case had widescale repercussions, for it allowed community groups in other regions to challenge their stations and to negotiate for improved services and for the employment of minorities. Kay Mills is the author of A Place in the News: From the Women's Pages to the Front Page, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, From Pocahontas to Power Suits: Everything You Need to Know about Women's History in America, and Something Better for My Children: The History and People of Head Start. She lives in Santa Monica, California.

Table of Contents

Seeking a voice — Serving whose public interest? — Enter Warren Burger — The FCC hears no evil — Once again, a verdict — Exit Lamar Life, enter William Dilday — The struggle for control — National impact.

Product Details

University Press of Mississippi
United States - 20th Century/60s
Mills, Kay
Discrimination & Racism
United States - State & Local - South
Political Freedom & Security - Civil Rights
Television broadcasting
Fairness doctrine
Blacks in television broadcasting.
Blacks on television.
African Americans - Civil rights - History -
United States Trials, litigation, etc.
Discrimination & Race Relations
Civil Rights; Media Studies
Civil Rights
Media Studies
US History - 20th Century
Social Science : Discrimination & Racism
Publication Date:
December 2011

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Media Studies
History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Racism and Ethnic Conflict
History and Social Science » Journalism » Reference
History and Social Science » Law » Legal Guides and Reference
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » US History » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

Changing Channels: The Civil Rights Case That Transformed Television
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Product details pages University Press of Mississippi - English 9781604736045 Reviews:
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