November 12, 2012 | Back to: NewsBriefs

'Broadcast Blues'


Sue Wilson spent the early years of her career in journalism at major TV and radio stations in Los Angeles and Sacramento. She now spends her time trying to educate the public about the broadcast media and how drastically it has changed in the past two decades.

Wilson last worked for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento in 2004.

“I’ve spent the time since exclusively on trying to reform the broadcast media to its former glory,” she said.

As part of her campaign, Wilson produced “Broadcast Blues” in 2009, a documentary exposé on the state of American broadcasting today, which will be screened at 7 p.m. Sunday as part of the Second Sunday Cinema series through the Peace Center.

After the movie, Wilson will speak.

She has toured the country with the film, trying to educate people about the shift in media coverage since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) removal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.

The doctrine required stations with a broadcast license to report on controversial subject matters and do so in a fair and equitable way, representing all sides of the story.

For Wilson, who won Emmys for environmental and cultural specials she produced while at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, the shift in media coverage not only changed how stories were reported but also opened the doors to allowing talk radio hosts on the airwaves to give only their one-sided opinions to millions of listeners.

Those millions of listeners may not know that it’s essentially legal to lie on the radio when those opinions are presented as facts, Wilson said.

“I’d like to see the ability again for people to sit around and just discuss,” as opposed to having shouting matches, she said.

In “Broadcast Blues,” Wilson uses a series of vignettes to show how corporations, FCC deregulation and the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, stemming from the Reagan era, have corrupted American news, information and even public safety, according to publicity for the film.

“Much of what we’re doing these days is educating people about (FCC broadcast) licenses,” Wilson said.

Through the formation of a new nonprofit organization, Media Action Center, Wilson and supporters want to highlight the fact that all stations are licensed by the FCC and belong to the public and, thus, should serve everyone in their news coverage.

“Broadcasting at its core does belong to all of us, and that’s the point I try to and do make in “Broadcast Blues,’” she said.

The movie’s goal to get people talking in a way matches that of the Peace Center’s mission with Second Sunday Cinema.

The group has hosted movie screenings for about five years, but has promoted the Second Sunday series for the past year, said organizer Lorraine Reich.

It’s the vision of the Peace Center to “… envision a world of justice, peace, equality and freedom.

This vision includes a community where differences are respected, conflicts are addressed peacefully, supportive structures are developed, and people
are empowered and live in harmony with the earth, nurtured by diverse traditions that
foster compassion, solidarity and reconciliation,” according to its website.

The progressive group tries to provide another view than what is seen in the mainstream media about national and international issues, Reich said.

Through these films, the Peace Center aims to bring together the conservative and liberal communities for meaningful discussions to help bridge the divide and hopefully come to common ground, Reich said.

There is a suggested donation of $5 to $10 to attend the Second Sunday Cinema and facilitated discussion.

Popcorn and refreshments will be available and all proceeds pay the expenses of the Peace Center and Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains, where the film will be screened.

UUCM is located at 246 South Church St. in Grass Valley. For information, contact the Peace Center at (530) 265-0200 or visit the Peace Center’s website at ncpeace.org. Also check Wilson’s website at www.suewilsonreports.com.

Features Editor Brett Bentley can be contacted at bbentley@theunion.com.


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The Union Updated Nov 12, 2012 07:33AM Published Nov 16, 2012 07:52AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.