If the media had been as consolidated in 1967 as it is today, suggests one iconic country singer, Dollywood might still be a piece of drive-by Smoky Mountain scenery and Dolly Parton a name nobody knew outside of her home town.
That is the gist of Grand Ole Opry star Porter Wagoner's pitch to the Federal Communications Commission, according to the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The commissioners will be in country music capital Nashville Monday afternoon for a second hearing on their planned revamp of media ownership rules.
Today, suggests Wagoner, the nickname for the next rising star looking for airplay could be "Slim To None."
"Not only did I have the freedom and control to introduce Dolly as a regular performer on my television show, but back then, radio was much friendlier to new recording artists," Wagoner plans to tell the commission, but "Dolly's first hit, 'Jolene,' became a country hit that crossed into the pop charts. The chance of this happening to an artist in today's media consolidated world is 'slim to none'."
"If you relax ownership rules more than what they are today," says Wagoner. "You will not only strip the airwaves away from the American public, but also continue to change the way we will do business in the recording industry which will be bad for not only recording artists, but also for the very companies who seek to ease these ownership restrictions."
George Jones also planned to sing a tale of woe: "[T]he consolidation of the radio industry has kept me from being played on the radio. It has kept me from earning my full potential as a country artist and has denied my fans and the American public the opportunity to hear my music."
"Corporate-based decisions in the music industry are nothing more than the opinions and decisions of a few people at the top, but their opinions dictate the operations of thousands of radio stations and that of the American public."
Also planning to weigh-in are singer Dobie Gray ("Drift Away") and songwriter songwriter Craig Wiseman (Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying”). Wiseman says that consolidation has "ushered in an era of corporate radio programming that has adversely impacted the quality of programming on the airwaves, particularly in the country music genre."
Check out the prepared testimony from Wagoner, Jones, Gray , and Wiseman .