F.C.C. working to elimate restrictions on how many news media outlets one company could own, both nationally and in a single city.
January 7, 2003 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Independent Media: Null & Void? According to this NYT Editorial (Free Registration Required) the F.C.C. is quietly working to elimate restrictions on how many news media outlets one company could own, both nationally and in a single city. What's next?
posted by bkdelong (18 comments total)
What's next?

a new world order.
posted by quonsar at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2003

What's next? That's easy! - the "Ministry of Truth" corporation, which owns every major media outlet in the US, and provides a refreshing and candid counterpoint to White House Press releases.
posted by troutfishing at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2003

Citizens, this conversation is not sanctioned. Please move along.
posted by moonbiter at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2003

This is probably worthy of its own post, but with all the talk of Orwell recently (here and elsewhere), Huxley seems to have been forgotten. In many ways the consolidation (and simultenous proliferation) of media is closer to Huxley's vision than Orwell's. From the article (summary of a book):

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
posted by cell divide at 12:26 PM on January 7, 2003

I see no problem with this whatsoever.

First of all, corporations should be free to buy other corporations should they be offered to do so (i.e. on a market), be they news media outlets, chocolate factories or soccer clubs.

Second, the only impact I can see this having on "independent" media, is strengthening the trend. I don't ready many mainstream newspapers myself, for example, and hardly watch any TV. I don't even own a radio, and I couldn't care less what ABCNNBCNYTWSJAOL (or whatever the biggest ones are called nowadays) do.

That's the nice thing about market economies; if you're offered poor products (like most modern mainstream media products) you're allowed to say "no thanks". Do it!
posted by dagny at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2003

We have a similar issue (& laws) in Australia. If we ignore the importance of media in social discourse (& I don't think we should), there is another reason to fight this monopolisation - advertising.

Regulation should be light though - here's the opinion of the CEO of one of Australia's biggest newspapers, the Age.

Most media makes money through advertising, and without competition, the rates go up. Big deal you say? In the USA that's a real problem at election time because how else can your politicians get messages to voters? Why else are your elections so massively expensive & hence corrupted by lobbyists and big money donors?

So, dagny, I agree with the market, but within certain rules - like to obey the rule of law and also to promote competition so consumers like you and your senator have choices, not only to read, but also to pay money to publish / broadcast your opinion / product for others to hear.
posted by ozjohn at 12:54 PM on January 7, 2003

Here's a speech from one of the commie-leftist-democrats in the FCC, JONATHAN S. ADELSTEIN

Dagny, to answer your non-chalance, here's the bad part, unless you think it's good, then it's the good part.
According to one FCC report, in the six years since the adoption of the 1996 Act, the number of radio owners in the United States declined by 34 percent, even though the number of commercial radio stations increased by 5.4 percent. The FCC found that this decline is primarily due to mergers between existing owners.

In 1996, the two largest radio group owners consisted of fewer than 65 radio stations. Six years later, the largest radio group owns about 1,200 radio stations. The second largest group owns about 250 stations. Their influence is even larger than their numbers suggest, because they are concentrated in the largest markets in the country. Another outcome is a downward trend in the number of radio station owners in each local market.

The FCC study indicates that group owners account for an increasing share of radio advertising revenues in local markets. For example, last year the largest firm in each radio market had, on average, 47 percent of the market’s total radio advertising revenue. The largest two firms in each radio market had, on average, 74 percent of the market’s radio advertising revenue.
So it's not that bad, unless you don't like the fact that no one other than huge corps can get into the radio business (or TV, or cable). Each merger frenzy raises the barriers of entry to the industry by another notch. Sure, we still got the Net, but how are you going to tell people about it?
posted by wah at 1:11 PM on January 7, 2003

Anybody have info on the public hearing mentioned in the article?
posted by rainbaby at 1:21 PM on January 7, 2003

So far all they've said is that it will be February 2003 (PDF). And buried in this release put out the same day, is the information that Public Comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (and studies) are due on January 2nd, 2003 with "reply comments" being due on February 3rd 2003.

According to the Media Ownership Policy Reexamination site, comments can be made using their Electronic Comment Filing System.

oi. Could they make this any harder? I am reminded of the plight of Arthur Dent:

"But Mr. Dent, the [demolition] plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."

"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anybody or anything."

"But the plans were on display..."

"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

"That's the display department."

"With a flashlight."

"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."

"So had the stairs."

"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"

"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused toilet with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."
posted by bkdelong at 2:36 PM on January 7, 2003

Yep...no independent media out there at all. Nothing subversive, nothing to challenge people, nothing to question The Existing Order.

Uh, except MetaFilter. And thousands of other websites in existence. And talk-radio. And "Cross-Fire" type shows. And the semi-liberal "Big Three" (and CNN, NPR, etc) news shows. And Art Bell. And...you get the picture.
posted by davidmsc at 7:19 PM on January 7, 2003

davidmsc - Very few Americans (statistically) read politically oriented (or news) websites. Art Bell is by the same token, fringe. Talk radio reaches more Americans, but only ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and FOX (you forgot to mention) have a wide national reach. NPR? - maybe - or maybe it reaches a sizeable fraction of those who listen to conservative talk radio: so I reject your "semi-liberal media bias" categorization). Try out this study: "A study of ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News in the year 2001 shows that 92 percent of all U.S. sources interviewed were white, 85 percent were male and, where party affiliation was identifiable, 75 percent were Republican. " and, furthermore, "the larger fallacy of the “liberal media” argument is the idea that reporters and mid-level editors set the editorial agenda at their news organizations. In reality, most journalists have about as much say over what is presented by newspapers and TV news programs as factory workers and foremen have over what a factory manufactures. " So - to take the impending "War on Iraq" - Could you please tell me exactly where I would find any dissenting voices about the wisdom of this coming war, despite ongoing mass protests in the US (and vastly larger protests abroad)? The UK Gaurdian concludes that my best source for information on this, given the lack of US major media coverage, would be Jerry Springer
posted by troutfishing at 10:12 PM on January 7, 2003

bkdelong - This is one of the top Mefi posts of the month. I feel bad about my intentionally sensationalistic (though heartfelt) "Cyberbegging" post for possibly drawing attention away (I was rationing my 'serious posts' to avoid seeming like the curmudgeon that I am) from your post, but I generally notice that many of the most significant posts are largely ignored: typical of the human species.

Alas. *gnashes teeth, weeps*
posted by troutfishing at 10:48 PM on January 7, 2003

You flatter me....but this post hardly deserves THAT level of recognition. Nonetheless, I've been disappointed of late with the amount of Bush administration actions that get questioned my independent media once, maybe twice and then languish when none of the non-profit watchdog organizations rise to the challenge of a "Write your political leaders" campaign.

I'm getting OT here but what surprises me most is the complete lack of an anti-war voice. Despite the fact that the UN inspectors continue to report no sign of weapons of mass destruction, the US continues to mobilize troops and equipment to the gulf, France asks its people to prepare for war, Israel beefs up it's defenses against a potential missle attack.....as far as I know the most defiance Hussain has shown was to idly complain that the inspectors are on an Intelligence fact-finding mission rather than making sure Iraq isn't being bad.
posted by bkdelong at 5:37 AM on January 8, 2003

Uh, except MetaFilter. And thousands of other websites in existence. And talk-radio. And "Cross-Fire" type shows. And the semi-liberal "Big Three" (and CNN, NPR, etc) news shows. And Art Bell.

Dagny's elevation of apathy to a moral commitment was ridiculous, but it doesn't beat this comment.

Right. Who cares if a few conglomerates own all of the television and radio outlets as long as we have Metafilter, weblogs, and Art Bell. I mean, gosh, we'll still have Friday Flash, the opinions of thousands of people who don't know any more than the rest of us, and all the conspiracies and flying saucer sightings we can handle. I'm so there.

David, there is a difference between news--facts with some degree of substantiation and opinion--which however entertaining or insightful, usually has an incomplete grasp of the available facts. The line might be fine, but it is there. The millions of opinions available online, on talk radio, or on televised flame-wars like Cross-fire still aren't a substitute for experienced, autonomous, news organizations with a national and international reach.

(Off-topic just a little: So the media has gone from being "liberal" to just "semi-liberal"--is that an effect of the current administration, or are Americans finally seeing the light? And I love your "liberal news" google search, David. That explains everything.)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:57 AM on January 8, 2003

Thanks for the hearing info link and the topic, bkdelong. I'll keep an ear out and try to represent for the little guy. The news source issue is important, and my conglomerate controlled radio SUCKS.
posted by rainbaby at 10:25 AM on January 8, 2003

Hey - nothing is stopping octobersurprise (wonder where that handle came from...?) from beginning his/her own news organization.
posted by davidmsc at 6:46 PM on January 8, 2003

octobersurprise: sorry about the insinuation about your MeFi handle -- should have checked your user page before I posted! I like your reason for the name.
posted by davidmsc at 6:47 PM on January 8, 2003

« Older Compact Disc Minimum Advertised Price Antitrust...   |   Macworld SF 2003 Keynote Reactions Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments