- we have to look at the FCC’s latest policy move in two additional contexts. First, consider the recent spate of mergers and acquisitions by the biggest players, to the point where the five giants now control the vast majority of commercial media in America. Diversity in viewpoints is a business tactic to these companies, to be used if profitable and discarded if not.
The shameful lack of coverage of this issue, especially by the broadcasters and media conglomerates that stand to gain the most, is a red flag. When media giants are asked to cover issues where they have such an enormous stake in the outcome — particularly when coverage might inflame the general public to the point where it demanded a different outcome — they do what is best for the bottom line.
The second context in which we must see the FCC’s action involves the future of the Internet itself. The promise of the Net is in its nature, a medium in which we can create and disseminate news, art and other “content,” not just consume it.
It’s not alarmist, given the plain-as-day trajectory of policies — including the FCC’s own recent actions — to suggest that the Net’s promise is in jeopardy. A few giant media and telecommunications companies could well grasp full control of the Net.
….Powell’s FCC could prove its good intentions by following through on a direction the chairman has favored in speeches and the commission’s staff has touted in policy papers: It could free up more of the airwaves for high-speed data, creating a way around the phone and cable monopolies.
If Powell is serious about reform — about ensuring a vibrant and diverse media — he’ll push ahead with spectrum reform. If he’s just a puppet of the media and communications oligarchy, he won’t. It’s that simple.
You can help him move in the right direction. E-mail him at [email protected] or call the FCC at (888) 225-5322. And call your elected officials in Washington, at (202) 224-3121, and tell them you want more media diversity and more choices for your communications and information. [The Mercury News]
Maybe the FCC can ignore the will of the people – the president and congress cannot.
Though the Washinton Post’s editorial board seems to think the rule changes are smoking hot cool, their media critic Tom Shales does not:
- Revising and relaxing the rules that prohibit a single entity from controlling too large a percentage of American media will allow corporations that are already too big to become much, much bigger. Also much more powerful and much more oblivious to the common good.
….Never mind that a diversity of voices — voices with the ability to be heard — is integral to the health and maintenance of a democracy. While Powell and his supporters claim that the existence of dozens, even hundreds, of channels on cable and satellite systems proves there’s diversity unbound, Powell’s critics note that the diversity is a mere illusion if only five fat companies own all those channels.
….unless the word gets around somehow, unless people wise up and rise up, they’ll discover that America’s “marketplace of ideas” is owned and controlled by only a handful of appallingly powerful and interdependent corporations.
….Jeff Chester, executive director of the public-interest Center for Digital Democracy, says Powell has declined even to debate Diller, among others. “He refused to conduct [adequate] public hearings, he refused to have 30- or 60-day debates on the rules, he has been unwilling to reach out to the public,” Chester says. “If Saddam Hussein had stayed in business, Powell might have made a great minister of information.”
….Bob Edwards, anchor of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” talked about the myth of media diversity in a lecture last month at his alma mater, the University of Kentucky.
“It’s kind of a cruel, ironic joke,” Edwards said. “The rise of cable TV and the Internet were supposed to democratize the media and give us many voices and numerous points of view. Instead, market forces and deregulation have clobbered diversity. The networks and cable channels have the same owners — Hollywood studios, mainly — and the most popular Web sites for news are those of organizations firmly established before the Web was spun.”
….Bigness leads to homogenization, sameness, conformity and mediocrity. And this will be some of the biggest bigness America has ever seen.
….Michael Powell and the FCC are riding to the rescue of huge media conglomerates that need rescuing about as much as Spider-Man, Batman and the Terminator do. Unfortunately, you and I and the freedom of speech are the ones getting trampled in the stampede.