Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Monopolies On The News

[Cross-posted at THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS]

Here is one reason that we keep hearing the same old, same old in the mainstream media, despite the concerns about media consolidation in the 1920s, when William Randolph Hearst wielded powerful control over print-media and radio-media:
Today, about a dozen media corporations—the largest is Gannett Co., followed by the Tribune Co.—own roughly one third of the country's more than 1,400 daily newspapers. Some argue that the reduction in the number of news outlets could lead to fewer critical opinions, with grim implications for democracy....[According to] Mara Einstein, associate professor of media studies at Queens College in New York, if that editor operates in a market with several options[,] "You read one person's point of view and then another person's, and you can come up with your own idea of what you believe is best." Online sites may fill in where mainstream news leaves off, but Davidson points to problems "weighing the gravity and the authority of the voices."
The FCC may be getting ready to allow even more monopolies on the news:
As America prepares for the year of intense democracy that is a presidential election, the question of how and what information reaches the public is crucial. So when the Federal Communications Commission last month proposed to loosen restrictions on media ownership, the reaction was deeply divided. FCC Chair Kevin Martin said the new rules, which would lift a 32-year ban on cross-ownership, would improve news coverage and help the struggling newspaper industry, which he called the "watchdog and informer of the citizenry." But what happens when fewer companies are responsible for the watching and informing?
As in the past, some are objecting to the FCC's proposal:
The FCC has long struggled to promote access to diverse news sources. Starting in the mid-1990s, the panel has been trying unsuccessfully to change the formulas governing cross-ownership, and it has often been attacked on all fronts. In 2003, the panel proposed allowing one company to own three television stations, eight radio stations, and the monopoly newspaper in a single market. A federal appeals court rejected the rules, while agreeing that the blanket ban on cross-ownership was outdated.


...[A]s in 2003, the proposals face serious challenges. While the FCC can move to adopt the plan, there are checks on its ability to implement it. A bipartisan group of 25 lawmakers has pledged to slow the enactment of the rule changes, while the White House has vowed to oppose any congressional intervention. Between the opposition on Capitol Hill and possible court challenges, the rules might never take effect.
Read the rest of the entire article in U.S. News & World Report.

How would our Founders, supporters of independent sources for the news, feel about what has happened to today's "free press"?

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posted by Always On Watch @ 1/09/2008 07:52:00 AM