Matt Drudge, who scours news sources like nobody else, occasionally runs into what is known in the biz as a “slow news day.”
One happened recently, producing this website headline:
COVERT RADIO PUSHING BEIJING PROPAGANDA IN USA
Wow. Made me look. With quick detective work, I could tell that neither Limbaugh nor Hannity had been infiltrated. Ditto Larry Elder, heard in Los Angeles on 870 KRLA.
The story behind the breathless headline came from Reuters. It detailed how state-run Chinese Radio International, allied with U.S. interests, is buying (or leasing time on) stations in major markets, including Washington.
The Washington station is licensed to the wealthy bedroom community of Leesburg, Virginia. WCRW has a 50,000-watt daytime signal; at night its 1,300 watts on 1190 AM can barely be heard.
Reports Reuters: “Newscasts are peppered with stories highlighting China’s development, such as its space program, and its contribution to humanitarian causes, including earthquake relief in Nepal.”
Uh, I really wouldn’t expect stories about dissident groups in Tibet or air pollution. Nor am I surprised that CRI is putting its message out. A country that builds high-rise apartments with no residents in them would not flinch at broadcasting on radio stations nobody listens to.
The Leesburg station made good money – 35 years ago. Economic forces have chipped away at live-and-local community stations, to the point many have gone dark or carry only simulcasts from FM.
Or, in this case, stuff from China.
Based on the Reuters story, the FCC will investigate. But consider this: CRI would air a story advocating an uprising against the Chinese government before anybody on MSNBC would utter the slightest criticism about the Obama administration.
Feel free to rethink your definition of state-controlled broadcasting.