Are you happy with the menu of calorie-free entrees dished up Big Media? Do you find endless stories about drunken heiresses and celebrities satisfying? Is being kept uninformed about major issues that actually have an impact on your life acceptable?
If so, you are probably thrilled with state of modern media. Forty-six years ago Newton Minow, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, referred to the media as a “vast wasteland.” Were he here today he might consider the contamination so irreversibly toxic that it would qualify as a Superfund site (bet you didn’t know that the EPA has a program for Contaminated Media).
In the same speech, Minow decried the parade of poor programming that littered the television landscape:
“You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom.”
Aside from the decline of westerns in TV’s civilization, nothing has changed. Some marketers argue that the networks are just giving the people what they want and that the ratings for their low-brow fare are proof of their success. But ratings only measure which of the programs that were provided were watched. They do not measure what might have been watched if something better were provided. What’s more, ratings are not an indicator of quality. If they were, McDonald’s would have to be considered the highest quality food in the country. In fact, this is an area where TV and McDonald’s have something in common. As I wrote in Starve The Beast, they both have…
“…the cheapest crap that is loaded with filler and seasoning to appeal to the largest number of consumers with the least sophisticated taste.”
Kevin Martin, the current Chairman of the FCC isn’t fit to sniff Minow’s shoes (as much as he might like to). He is an unapologetic representative of the mega-corporations that presently dominate the media. He has consistently placed corporate interests above the public interest and now he is trying to rush through a vote on industry-friendly media ownership regulations that are opposed by a majority of the Senate Commerce Committee as well as the public.
Stop Big Media, an affiliate of FreePress, has produced a hilarious and frightening video that illustrates just how low journalistic standards in media have fallen in an era that has been defined by rapid consolidation. If Martin gets his way it will only get worse.
We, the people need to be heard about this – NOW. Martin has made it clear that he doesn’t care what the public wants, so it is now up to our representatives in Congress. FreePress has a simple form you can use to contact your senators. USE IT! And do so quickly because the FCC is voting December 18, which is this coming Tuesday.