FCC Proposes Greater Media Consolidation

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Stephen Lendman, 15 December, 2007.

On October 17, FCC chairman Kevin Martin proposed lifting the 1975 media cross-ownership rule that forbids a company from owning a newspaper and television or radio station in the same city even though giant conglomerates like Rupert Murdock’s News Corp. and the (Chicago) Tribune Company already do. On November 13, he expanded on his earlier plan claiming changes will only allow cross ownership “in the largest markets where there exists competition and numerous voices.”

That’s not how Free Press.net’s policy director, Ben Scott, sees it in his statement on the same day saying: “Chairman Martin’s lofty rhetoric talks about saving American newspapers and ensuring a diversity of voices. But the devil is in the details. His new rules appear to be corporate welfare for the (media giants) in the biggest cities (and) most worrying….the proposed rules appear to contain a giant loophole that could open the back door to runaway media consolidation in nearly every market (in) another massive giveaway to Big Media.”
If the ban is ended, that’s what will happen, and the trend author and journalist Ben Bagdikian documented since 1983 will continue unimpeded. He did it in six editions of his landmark book, “The Media Monopoly,” plus his newest 2004 update titled, “The New Media Monopoly” …

… It shows in its practices and reports of its biased research, false claims, and a long history of ignoring the public interest. That has growing numbers on Capitol Hill saying FCC failed to make a case for further consolidation. It now remains to be seen if Congress and the courts will back the public interest the way they did in 2003.

Not if the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page view prevails as it weighed in on this issue prominently on October 25. It accused Senators Dorgan and Lott of “shilling for local broadcasters who don’t want the competition,” when, in fact, that’s exactly what they want. It also attacked the “political left’s ideological paranoia (over) corporate media ownership” saying it has “no such objection to the left’s operational control of National Public Radio or PBS” when, in fact, both broadcasters are corporate America tools and never met a US-led war they didn’t love and support.

All the Journal can do is shill for the media giants and note how it’s “long favored letting the free market determine the size of a company.” It further cites media concentration as a fait accompli new technologies will allow to continue. By Journal logic (and the Martin FCC): “This has led not to monopolies but to a media landscape that is more diverse than ever (with) more news and entertainment options.” Media theorist Neil Postman had a different view. He once called Americans the most over-entertained, under-informed people in the world and wrote about it in books like “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” Further media consolidation guarantees much more of the same with the public, as always, the loser. (full text).

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