Synopses & Reviews
This work shows in detail the emergence and consolidation of U.S. commercial broadcasting economically, politically, and ideologically. This process was met by organized opposition and a general level of public antipathy that has been almost entirely overlooked by previous scholarship. McChesney highlights the activities and arguments of this early broadcast reform movement of the 1930s. The reformers argued that commercial broadcasting was inimical to the communication requirements of a democratic society and that the only solution was to have a dominant role for nonprofit and noncommercial broadcasting. Although the movement failed, McChesney argues that it provides important lessons not only for communication historians and policymakers, but for those concerned with media and how they are used.
"This highly informative study gives an illuminating account of the formation of the mass media, the forces that determined their character, and the implications for functioning democracy. The questions addressed and the insights offered are also of great contemporary relevance, as telecommunications moves to a new stage, and problems of a very similar nature arise in new forms."--Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"His study succeeds in introducing us to the principled opposition to commercial broadcasting that existed during America's 1930's, and in so doing, makes a worthwhile contribution to the ongoing discourse on how mass media can be made to best serve a democracy."--American Historical Review
"Backed by impeccable scholarship, Robert McChesney's voice deserves to be heard. His book explodes the myth that the radio-TV environment of today was produced by some 'natural evolution' nurtured by the inherently democratic free market. This realization is especially relevant as Congress and the FCC make policy for constructing the Information Superhighway."--The Progressive
"Robert McChesney's contribution to our understanding of media history and reform movements is enormous."--Against the Current
"A valuable scholarly assessment of a critical period of policy decision-making....Important reading--perhaps the best telling of this short but centrally-important period."--Communications Booknotes
This study examines a critical point in US broadcasting, when a strong opposition emerged to challenge network-dominated, advertising-supported media such as radio.