In his remarks to a crowded auditorium at the seventh annual Future of Music Coalition Summit, which began today (Sept. 17) on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) reaffirmed his commitment to protecting neutrality and emphasizing local ownership of media outlets.

Dorgan noted several incidents that made clear to him the need to fight media consolidation. Among them was the removal of the Dixie Chicks from several radio play lists following their negative comments about President Bush in 2003.

He also used a troubling example from his home state, citing a situation in which a freight train crash caused a chemical leak in Minot, N.D. All six commercial stations in the town were owned by Clear Channel, and when the leak occurred, none of them broke into regular programming to provide emergency information to the city's residents. After the town's Emergency Alert System failed, local officials tried to call the stations but no one answered, and stations continued to broadcast content from out of state.

The senator also mentioned that he was troubled by a recent trend towards corporations buying -- not only radio stations in a given market, but live music venues and promotion companies as well. He expressed concern that this may shut out artists who want to work with competing promoters, which in turn could find the acts erased from airwaves or denied shows.

Finally, Dorgan took a moment to share with the audience a list of his favorite acts, which include Meatloaf, the Rolling Stones and Ray Charles. The senator said that while he does not have any Limp Bizkit albums, he did recently receive a visit from rocker band OK Go, and that they "were very nice, and wore ties."

The two-day event is sponsored by the Future of Music Coalition not-for-profit collaboration between members of the music, technology, public policy and intellectual property law communities. Upcoming events include an address by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), as well as panels touching on podcasting, digital technology, independent artists and music licensing.