In an editorial published Friday, August 25, the L. A. Times took a courageous stand in favor of propping up its parent corporation, The Tribune Company. By supporting the latest power-grab being proposed by the FCC, the Times/Tribune are really just supporting their own economic interests at the expense of the public.
In 2003, the FCC attempted to ram through a new set of ownership rules that would allow the already too big media empires to consolidate even more. They did this with little concern for the public’s interest or input. What transpired was an unprecedented uproar from citizens who persuaded their representatives to pass a bill repealing the FCC’s measure. Subsequently, a federal Court of Appeals struck down the rest of the regulation calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” So how does the Times characterize these events?
It starts by portraying the FCC as the embattled servant of goodness, seeking only to liberate the well-meaning media companies from, “unreasonable government restrictions on their activities.” But they are foiled by the sinister court system and the Senate, which was, “prodded by a motley alliance of anti-corporate zealots and conservative activists.” Unmentioned in this mythologizing is that the prodding actually came from a record 3 million complaints from the people to the FCC. The Senate responded, not to some motley alliance, but to their constituents. It’s called Democracy and someone should tell Tribune about it. The editorial goes on to make some shockingly untrue assessments of the modern media landscape:
“…what the FCC tried to do three years ago was too modest. In an age of cable and satellite TV – not to mention an age of YouTube.com – it’s no longer justifiable for the government to impose any limits on how many affiliates broadcast networks can own, given that CBS, NBC and ABC no longer control the distribution of their programming the way they did when American families gathered around their sets to watch “I Love Lucy.”
The Internet itself is at risk of becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the Media/Telecom Complex…
Too modest? That requires a massive dose of hubris to lay down. Something the Times neglected to mention was that in this age, the cable, satellite, and broadcast networks, to which they refer, are owned largely by the same handful of corporate megaliths. And since they brought up YouTube, it should be noted that the Internet phenom is currently the subject of persistent rumors that it is about to acquired by, you guessed it, a major media corporation. The Internet itself is at risk of becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the Media/Telecom Complex who oppose Net Neutrality and favor monopolistic convergence. Already, 9 of the top 11 Internet news sites are owned by Big Media.
It is true, though, that the broadcast networks no longer control the distribution of their programming the way they once did. They now have more control. With the repeal of the financial/syndication rules a few years ago, they can now fully own the programming that they broadcast. Now independent producers are getting shut out by the networks who would rather schedule programs that they own because they make more money that way – particularly in syndication.
And then there’s this Orwellian pearl…
“More cities might still have a competitive newspaper market if more broadcasters had been allowed to buy newspapers in the past.”
It’s impossible to fathom how they define competition. If more broadcasters (who are buying each other) were allowed to buy more newspapers (who are buying each other), you eventually end up with little or no competition at all. And that’s exactly the way they like it.
This editorial reveals a self-serving media empire that reflects the industry overall. In the past 25 years, the number of companies that controlled the majority of media output plunged from 50 to 5. If they have their way, they will continue to purge every voice of independence and diversity from the public arena.
Your voice is needed now to persuade Washington’s regulators and legislators that competition is not enhanced by consolidation. Use this form provided by Stop Big Media (a project of FreePress.net) to send your thoughts to the FCC. There is much more information available at that site. And let your representatives know how feel as well.