President Bush unveils an economic plan that is expected to cost nearly $700 billion over the next decade. Congress opens today with Republicans in control of the Senate and House. And, pro-war Democrats line up for the 2004 presidential election: A conversation with Ralph Nader; Fox, NBC, Viacom, Walt Disney Co. urge the government to scrap all remaining media-ownership rules. A debate between the FCC and media analysts Robert McChesney and Jeff Chester on media consolidation.
9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20: President Bush unveils his $674 billion economic plan today in Chicago. The centerpiece of the plan is the elimination of all taxes on corporate dividends paid to shareholders. That could cost $300 billion over the next ten years. Bush stunned lawmakers in both parties with the plan. It is twice as expensive as most had been expecting and overwhelmingly favors the wealthy. The Tax Policy Center calculates the wealthiest 1 percent of all taxpayers will receive 42 percent of the savings from making dividends to shareholders tax-free. Bush s announcement comes on the heels of reports that he is seeking to freeze all domestic spending programs except for Homeland Security. White House officials say the spending cap on welfare, the environment, job creation and other government programs is needed to put the budget on a war footing. Democrats attacked the plan, saying it is for the wealthiest people in the country. Yesterday they unveiled a much smaller, alternative plan that would provide $136 billion through tax rebates, aid to state governments and expanded unemployment benefits. Also today, the 108th Congress commences with Republicans in control of the Senate and the House. Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee is the new Senate Majority leader. Trent Lott was forced to resign from his Senate leadership position after he said the US would be better off if Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948 when he ran behind the slogan "Segregation Forever." But according to an article buried in the back of the A-section of The New York Times, Senator Lott will be offered the chairmanship of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee this week. Guest: Ralph Nader, 2000 Green Presidential candidate Link: http://www.democracyrising.org 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:30 NADER Cont d 9:30-9:58:Last week three of the nation s four television networks, Fox, NBC and CBS s parent company Viacom, joined forces to urge the federal government to scrap all remaining media-ownership rules. It comes at a time that the Federal Communications Commission is preparing to fundamentally alter the nation's communications and mass-media landscape by rewriting media ownership regulations. If all of the changes being reviewed by the FCC are enacted as proposed, major telecommunications and media corporations will be less regulated, and more free to merge, than at any time in decades. The networks say the regulations are no longer needed to spur competition among broadcasters and that the consolidation of television and radio stations had spurred more diversity of programming and local news, not less. Opponents fear that the changes could lead to a few powerful conglomerates controlling the flow of electronic information, from programming of television and radio news and entertainment to control of the Internet. According to the Wall Street Journal, a letter-writing campaign opposing media consolidation has flooded the FCC offices with nearly 1,700 comments on the proposed regulations. The Federal Communications Commission, which is headed by Michael Powell, the son of Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, is expected to complete review of the regulations within a few months. The FCC has announced only one public hearing in Richmond, Virginia, in February. Next week at Columbia University on Jan. 16, the Center for Digital Democracy and other consumer groups and other media groups will host a conference on media consolidation. Guest: Brendan Koerner, journalist who has covered the FCC and Michael Powell for Mother Jones, the Village Voice and other publications. His article on the FCC Losing Signal for Mother Jones won a Project Censored Award last year. Guest: Ken Ferree, Chief of the Media Bureau of the FCC. Ferree oversees the review of broadcast ownership rules at the FCC. Guest: Robert McChesney, author of eight books on media and politics, including Rich Media, Poor Democracy. He is also professor of Communications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Guest: Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. Guest: Mara Einstein, assistant professor of Media Studies at Queens College. Her study Program Diversity and the Program Selection Process on Broadcast Network Television was one of 10 studies cited by the FCC when it drafted its media ownership regulations. Links: FCC s media ownership page: http://www.fcc.gov/ownership/Center for Digital Democracy: http://www.democraticmedia.org Robert McChesney: http://www.robertmcchesney.com Robert Koerner s Losing Signal : http://www.motherjones.com/magazine/SO01/fcc.html 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:45-9:58 FCC Cont d 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogiera and Alex Wolfe. Mike Di Filippo is our engineer and webmaster.