John here, pretending he’s Harold, with a link to a story about the FCC and big media. It’s by Ted Turner of CNN fame, & published in
The Washington Monthly.
His line of reasoning will be familar to loyal readers of Harold’s Tales of the Sausage Factory but it is refreshing to see it coming from the pen of a wildly successful media mogul.
Unless we have a climate that will allow more independent media companies to survive, a dangerously high percentage of what we see–and what we don’t see–will be shaped by the profit motives and political interests of large, publicly traded conglomerates. The economy will suffer, and so will the quality of our public life.
Big media today wants to own the faucet, pipeline, water, and the reservoir. The rain clouds come next.
I’ve included one more teaser in the extended section, but you’ll have more fun if you skip that and just follow the link to the article. It’s well written with Turner’s trademark directness, and it’s scary stuff from somebody who knows what he’s talking about.
Today, media companies are more concentrated than at any time over the past 40 years, thanks to a continual loosening of ownership rules by Washington. The media giants now own not only broadcast networks and local stations; they also own the cable companies that pipe in the signals of their competitors and the studios that produce most of the programming. To get a flavor of how consolidated the industry has become, consider this: In 1990, the major broadcast networks–ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox–fully or partially owned just 12.5 percent of the new series they aired. By 2000, it was 56.3 percent. Just two years later, it had surged to 77.5 percent.