KHON's team stood up for the public interest
The following is the statement of the Hawaii Media Action Group regarding recent events at television station KHON.
KUDOS are in order for the management team at KHON standing up to the latest out-of-state owners of that station and the drive to decimate the loyal, talented and hard-working employees who have made KHON Hawaii's No. 1-rated TV station.
In recent weeks, Rick Blangiardi, general manager, Jay Park, production manager, Carrie Castle, controller, Jared Kuroiwa, Internet technology manager, Cheryl Oncea, general sales manager, Linda Brock, marketing director, Sharon Billingsley and Stuart Chang, local sales managers, and Ron Comings, news director, have all tendered their resignations because they could not support the plans of California-based Montecito Broadcast Group that include firing as many as 35 current employees.
This exodus of local talent is a sad commentary on the current state of the broadcast media and the Federal Communications Commission that has neglected the public interest in its oversight of broadcast licensing.
Remember that broadcast TV and radio stations use a valuable public asset, the electromagnetic spectrum (the airwaves), to make huge profits. In return for the use of our airwaves, they are supposed to operate in the public interest.
The FCC failed to take action when Emmis Communications of Indiana held duopoly ownership of both KHON and KGMB in violation of FCC rules for more than five years. Likewise, the FCC failed to consider a community-based audit and complaint about the failure of Emmis to maintain adequate public files as required by FCC regulations.
The approval of the transfer of KHON's FCC license from Emmis to the SJL Broadcast Group on Dec. 20, was apparently done with no inquiry into SJL's (they have since changed their name to Montecito Broadcast Group) ability to manage KHON in the community's best interests.
SJL/Montecito -- it's hard enough to keep track of this stuff without the legal name-change mumbo jumbo -- came to town with bluster and hype about service to our community, and in a few short weeks it has caused the implosion of KHON.
Thank you to the seasoned broadcast managers and staff at KHON who have had enough of corporate profiteering by out-of-state owners and have put their jobs on the line.
Our community should likewise stand up with the battle cry made famous in the 1976 movie classic "Network." In that film the audience, fed up with TV's crass commercialism, stood up chanting, "We are mad as hell, and we aren't going to take it any more!"
Montecito's FCC license for KHON is up for renewal next year, and it would be fitting justice for our community to stand up with local managers and take back the license for Hawaii.
Chris Conybeare and Sean McLaughlin represent the Hawaii Media Action Group.