You, Me and FCC

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Apparently the FCC was very concerned about the subject of concentration of media ownership/media consolidation. Their main concern was that we did not have enough of it. I guess the conventional wisdom these days is that competition in local/regional/national markets between newspapers, television, and radio is inherently nasty and bad. It is just inefficient to be forced to read two newspapers when one will suffice don’t you think? It is so time consuming to try an dread competing views in any major medium. Competing views can cause harmful side effects, one will be forced to think and the FCC certainly does not want to be given credit for that potential national disaster. Americans don’t have to think. They are too busy getting second mortgages to pay for once affordable post secondary education or working three jobs to pay off medical bills because they dared to get sick and deprive employers of their labor. Being sick is a bit unpatriotic, don’t you think?

Since the FCC has all of our best interests in mind and is made up of the “right kind of people” they kindly decided that they would remove the previous ban that restricted an owner from having a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in a single market. Really, the most efficient thing would be to eliminate newspapers all together and install chips in our heads that could pick up cable news broadcasts constantly. If one pauses to read a newspaper that is a diversion away from working and shopping which are really the only two things we should be doing anyway.

Concentration of media ownership is hardly a new topic. Ben Bagdikian has been writing about this issue since 1983. He has a few qualifications that allow him to speak about such things.

Mother Jones provides a nice visual that shows us who owns what in major areas of media and how much they make. I’m so glad the FCC is going to help them make more, aren’t you? Maybe the problem is that one organization should just own everything. That would be very, very, efficient. The free market is fine for other people, like workers, but we can’t subject the owners to that kind of stress and interference with business can we? And anybody who criticizes this is just jealous, after all anybody can be rich in America and anybody can be President, and if it doesn’t happen to you that is a matter of your own personal failings not the market, because the market is good for us except when it is bad, such as in the case of not enough concentration of media ownership.

Barak Obama and John Kerry have both raised the issue of a lack of diversity of ownership in the media here in the US.

Apparently, there is a lack of minority and female owners of TV stations in this country. Women who make up half the population in America own 4.97 percent of TV stations. Minorities combined who make up a little more than a third of the population here own about three percent of the TV stations, Blacks and Hispanics who both make up 13 or 14 percent of the population each own about 1.3 percent of the TV stations. And there are also few females or minorities in any positions of authority ( CEO, president, general manager) to suggest a possibility for opinions or hiring practices that reflect any broad based diversity.

I am certain there is no connection between lack of minority ownership of TV stations or other media outlets and the concentration of the media here. The concentration of media has no reflection on content, or diversity of opinion either, right? The market is neutral, the major players in the market are neutral, a lack discussion about issues pertaining to race, for example, except when it hits perceived crisis mode, couldn’t possibly be influenced by the paucity of black Americans, women and Latino or Hispanic Americans in ownership roles. Never mind that ideas like affirmative action have become almost banned from conversation except when the media can come up with illustrations that it is bad for us.

Resources about media ownership and concentration can be found here ,here and here.

Rory O’Connor asks why the “big media” gets to decide which candidates are included in debates. He seems particularly annoyed by the way Ron Paul was excluded from Republican debates and seems to view it as a case of disturbing paternalism. Kucinich will be quickly eliminated if he hasn’t already been soon enough. It is not that the MSM like horse races that drives them to include and exclude some, it is a calculation of who they can work with.  Sure Obama and Edwards in particular are using the “C” word, but they aren’t preaching revolution or taking a good hard look at say how media concentration in American shapes and influences democracy or the lack of it, so the ownership overlords don’t feel too threatened.

Amy Goodman reflecting on the FCC decision, notes that at one time the ban on allowing somebody own a newspaper and a TV station in one market was a matter of public interest. At one time there was some concerns about protecting such concepts, I suppose that to needs to be privatized. One potential side effect of this ruling: the few minority owned TV stations in the nation could well be subjected to a buy out. The problem facing newspaper owners is simple they are less profitable than they used to be, not lacking in viability just less profitable. Essentially, this new FCC ruling will allow them to subsidize falling newspaper profits with the acquisition of TV stations and possibility eliminate some minority owned TV stations in the process.

Part of the reason we need to ensure a Democratic President does win in 2008 is not just to attack the big issues, we need competent appointees to out regulatory agencies, people who actually believe that the concept of “public service” should exist. Perhaps even somebody daring enough to break up existing media monopolies and draw up policies and programs designed to promote minority ownership. I won’t be holding my breath on that last request, but it is on my wish list.

14 comments

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  1. Wish one of the candidates would talk openly about media ownership concentration: not a sexy issue but one with a huge impact on ordinary Americans.

  2. I was just sitting here with the wife.  NBC was on and they were blabbing about how Obama “rocketed” into the lead, how he was hoarse after getting no sleep and staying in a hotel with no hot water.

    “See hon, look at them go, corporate media douchebags(and really I don’t swear often).

    “Obama ain’t gonna do that”!

    • documel on January 8, 2008 at 3:32 am

    Given the monstrous power of a few White men, what would Rove do if these “journalists” were liberal fanatics?  I believe he would threaten to break them up–and then strike up a deal–you support our candidate, and we’ll allow to expand.  This election is too important to not follow this script–and then, after the election, screw them anyway.

    It not only will make us more certain of victory, giving Murdoch the shaft will truly be icing on the cake.

  3. trust busting in the last debate. The ghost of a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt was conjured up. I think it was Edwards although he and Obama kind of blurred into good cop bad cop and it was hard to sort out. The regulatory agencies are all a joke at this point.

    The FCC seems to do the most damage politically as it filters our reality, pumps us full of fears and misdirection.   Besides the cross media ownership I find it disturbing that huge multinationals like GE are allowed to own our information. Not surprising that the war and Edwards are invisable.        

    • pfiore8 on January 8, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Clinton signed the 1996 Telecommunications act

    a tidbit from one analysis of this legislation:

    Consumer groups, including the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Media Education, have released results from a nationwide survey indicating that a majority of consumers do not expect to benefit from the increased telephone, cable and media concentration which would be permitted under telecommunications legislation currently pending before Congress.  As with mergers, respondents do not see the price benefit promised by Congress from deregulation of the local telephone and cable companies.  Many consumers believe deregulation will hurt them (Wright, 1995).

  4. thanks! This is a great overview of something I don’t know enough about.

    And love this!

    “Competing views can cause harmful side effects, one will be forced to think and the FCC certainly does not want to be given credit for that potential national disaster.”

    • Zwoof on January 8, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I worked for a TV station years ago that owned a sister station in Georgia.  They also owned the only AM and FM radio stations.  Due to a Grandfather clause in the original FCC laws years ago, the owner was allowed to keep the only area newspaper.

    No problem, as the owner was also the Mayor and if I recall stayed in office until he died and they screwed the old bastard into the ground.

    Then Reagan came and really fucked everything up. That’s when I quit working in radio.  Multi-station ownership nearly killed rock n-roll. Playlists  ugh.  And then Syndicated shows  with asswipes like Stern and his ilk, followed by the purchase of worthless AM licenses by the Fundamentalist that now pipe GodZ Musak straight into Bush’s little lizard brain.

    oh shit, you got me off on a rant…sorry, we now return to your regularly scheduled de-programming.  

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