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Back to the Future at the FCC

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on November 09, 2007

The Federal Communications Commission, politicians, broadcasters, newspaper owners, and a variety of self-declared consumer groups are all devoting a tremendous amount of time and effort to a fight that looks more and more like a Civil War reenactment: lots of shooting and smoke, but no blood and, in the end, not really about much of anything.

The object of all this attention, most recently a public meeting today in Seattle, is new rules on just how much media and one corporate owner can hold. The debate, especially what we keep hearing from the consumer representatives, creates the distinct feeling that we are stuck in a time warp and it, maybe 1980. We have endless debates about whether newspapers can share ownership with broadcast TV stations in the same city and how many TV stations reaching how big of a market can one owner have. Meanwhile in the real world, both newspapers and TV stations are rapidly losing their audiences to new media outlets that are popping up like mushrooms after a rain.

Numerous studies have been presented to the FCC on the alleged dangers of concentration of ownership, but they seem to refer to a different world than the one I live in. Here, the biggest threat of media concentration seems to be to the shareholders in companies loaded down with lots of old media properties.

The FCC has a lot of big, important issues on its plate that are not being addressed effectively if at all. The media ownership concentration debate is a great political show, but mostly it’s a waste of valuable time

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Reader Comments

Brandon W

November 9, 2007 03:55 PM

This idea of enforcing "fair competition" is ... well...
Who is John Galt?


November 12, 2007 08:19 AM

Ah, but the vast majority of Americans get their news from old media. Consolidating all the news into a small consortium of companies which can and do push their personal agendas in the news, masquerading their fantasies as fact, is not fair competition and it does a disservice to the consumer.

To ignore the issue of objectivity in news and trying to ensure variety of opinions and sources is to promote the current culture of locking yourself in a media bubble of news you personally find agreeable and pretend that everything else is owned by some evil, biased consortium on a mission to destroy America.

Yes, this debate is a political show, but it's hardly a waste of time. In a time of Opinion Is Fact and Punditry is News, who owns what media, to what end and by what means is a very important discussion.

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