The Answer Guy Online

Providing information to unwitting victims on a "don't-need-to-know" basis since 1974.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Feeding Frenzy

We all own the air. Remember this. It's so easy to forget sometimes.

Airwaves are public property. When the people that the citizenry entrust with the public property allow it to be monopolized by a small, chosen few to crowd out everyone else, there should be hell to pay. That there likely won't be only makes me more fatalistic about our viability as a democratic and pluralistic society.

I haven't discussed the recent FCC vote to allow a handful of huge media conglomerates to further limit the diversity of media sources available to citizens by buying more and more media outlets of different varieties, though it's shown up in the comments widget and in the blogs of some of my friends. We are slowly but surely backsliding into a situation where very few corporate entities own all major media outlers, except without the old Fairness Doctrine holding them in check.

The Commission, as to be expected, more or less ignored the half-million people who sent in e-mails, phone calls, or letters, opposing the regulation changes.

There may be new forms of information transmittal out there, but it doesn't really matter if there are a lot of different ways to get your information if a handful of entities own all of them.

However, there is one thing they got right - they refused to further deregulate radio, which was the guinea pig for that latest round of deregulation in other mass media. Radio deregulation was, from the perspective of the public interest, a disaster, in part because the biggest beneficiary, Clear Channel Communications, is more or less pure evil.
1 2 3 4 5 Not only are they trying to use their market power to squelch artists (Dixie Chicks) who express their disapproval of the politics they favor, they are trying to drive out independent radio content providers of any sort, whether left, right, center, or completely unrelated to politics. There are a number of reasons that commercial radio is such a wasteland, but Clear Channel is probably #1 among them.

If it weren't for the headline, I would have had to read this article closely to figure out that it was a joke. I wish I could laugh.

By and large, "our" government does what the small number of individuals and corporations who feed it money tell it to do. Sometimes the public is lucky and there are vested interests on both sides of an issue to carry the debate. Sometimes, we're not so lucky.


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