Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FCC Ends Longstanding Ban on Cross-Ownership: Good!

Well, the FCC overturned a 32-year-old ban on broadcasters owning newspapers in the same market - at least, overturned the ban in the top 20 markets. I was interviewed by Richard Dalton for Newsday about this important development, and that appears in Wednesday's editions.

The gist of what I told him: good!

Here's a little more context and explanation.

First, I don't like media concentration at all. The fewer the hands and minds that control our media, the easier it is for the government to push them around. More diversity in voices means that differences in opinion and perspective are likely be heard, and that's a good thing for democracy.

So why am I applauding the 3-2 FCC ruling - a great example of even a broken clock being right twice a day?

Two reasons:

2. Media concentration is becoming less of a threat to diversity of communication in the age of the Internet. Plainly, there are many more voices on YouTube and countless other web sites than a decade ago, and the net result is even if every major broadcast medium were owned by the same organization, Americans would still have more variety in communication than ever before. The Obama Girl videos and Ron Paul's candidacy are two examples of profound developments in media that had nothing to do with broadcasting - and, in the case of Ron Paul, was actively opposed by mainstream media.

1. Even more importantly, even were the Web not providing unprecedented diversity in media, the FCC relaxation of ownership standards would be a good thing. The FCC is an affront to the First Amendment, and its injunction that Congress shall make no abridging freedom of speech or press. Much as I dislike media concentration, I see government regulation as a far worse threat to our freedom. You don't bring in a snake (the FCC) to control a rat problem (media concentration) - because, obviously, the snake can then slither around and bite you.

So on this rare occasion of the FCC pulling back from government regulation, I say, good for the FCC.

And if you're worried about undue media concentration that might result, complain about it in your blog, and hope that the FCC never tries to regulate that.

Further reading -

The Barely Political Revolution

Rating the Networks in their Election Campaign Coverage
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