Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Big Media Critics Needn't Worry so Much

Alan Murray, who writes on politics for The Wall Street Journal, has a column (page 2) today with the above headline. I’d like to run the whole thing here, as some readers of this Blog may not subscribe to the print or online version of the Journal (though I have stated many times that an online subscription is one of the best uses I can think of for $50 so long as you have lunch money set aside).

So here are some excerpts (still probably too much, but I’ll risk it).
For those who worry about the pernicious effects of "big media," today is a big day. The Federal Communications Commission once again is launching an effort to ease rules that restrict media concentration, including one that prohibits newspapers and broadcast stations in the same city from owning each other.

The rules were written back when "cable" was used to tow cars and "the net" went next to the fishing box.

Opponents launched a pre-emptive attack against the FCC yesterday, unveiling a new Web site, Backed by groups ranging from the Consumer Federation of America to the National Council of Churches, the coalition urges visitors to "fight back" and help "save your local media from corporate control."

I won't be signing up. On the list of things that keep me awake at night, "media concentration" ranks pretty low. "Media proliferation," on the other hand, ranks higher….

The worriers make much of the fact that power already is concentrated in the hands of "a few" giant companies: Time Warner, News Corp. (Fox), Walt Disney Co. (ABC), Viacom Inc. (CBS), General Electric Co. (NBC), Bertelsmann AG, Sony Corp. (phew, I get winded naming them). Of course, that list of biggies doesn't even include Tribune, Gannett Co., New York Times Co. and Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Nor does it include Yahoo Inc., Google Inc. or Microsoft Corp. Or smaller companies like HDNet, Mark Cuban's high-definition-television network….

But at some point, rules need to reflect reality. And the reality is this: Access to the media is more open and democratic today than it ever has been in the history of the world.
If you want to read the whole thing, drop me an email and I can send you a link that is good for seven days.

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