I just read this article by Ted Turner on media ownership. I have copied part of the article and will list the url to the full artricle.
I have been concerned for years that corporations are controlling way too much of my life such who runs for political office, ( remember the Dean
scream played over and over) what news stories are allowed to air etc...
Read the article and tell me what you think. Do you think Corporations are controlling our political system for their own benifit?
Loss of democratic debate
"When media companies dominate their markets, it undercuts our democracy. Justice Hugo Black, in a landmark media-ownership case in 1945, wrote:
"The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential
to the welfare of the public."
These big companies are not antagonistic; they do billions of dollars in business with each other. They don't compete; they cooperate to inhibit
competition. You and I have both felt the impact. I felt it in 1981, when CBS, NBC, and ABC all came together to try to keep CNN from covering the
White House. You've felt the impact over the past two years, as you saw little news from ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, or CNN on the FCC's actions. In
early 2003, the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans had heard "nothing at all" about the proposed FCC rule changes. Why? One
never knows for sure, but it must have been clear to news directors that the more they covered this issue, the harder it would be for their corporate
bosses to get the policy result they wanted.
A few media conglomerates now exercise a near-monopoly over television news. There is always a risk that news organizations can emphasize or ignore
stories to serve their corporate purpose. But the risk is far greater when there are no independent competitors to air the side of the story the
corporation wants to ignore. More consolidation has often meant more news-sharing. But closing bureaus and downsizing staff have more than economic
consequences. A smaller press is less capable of holding our leaders accountable. When Viacom merged two news stations it owned in Los Angeles,
reports The American Journalism Review, "field reporters began carrying microphones labeled KCBS on one side and KCAL on the other." This was no
accident. As the Viacom executive in charge told The Los Angeles Business Journal: "In this duopoly, we should be able to control the news in the
This ability to control the news is especially worrisome when a large media organization is itself the subject of a news story. Disney's boss, after
buying ABC in 1995, was quoted in LA Weekly as saying, "I would prefer ABC not cover Disney." A few days later, ABC killed a "20/20" story
critical of the parent company.
But networks have also been compromised when it comes to non-news programs which involve their corporate parent's business interests. General
Electric subsidiary NBC Sports raised eyebrows by apologizing to the Chinese government for Bob Costas's reference to China's "problems with human
rights" during a telecast of the Atlanta Olympic Games. China, of course, is a huge market for GE products.
Consolidation has given big media companies new power over what is said not just on the air, but off it as well. Cumulus Media banned the Dixie Chicks
on its 42 country music stations for 30 days after lead singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush for the war in Iraq. It's hard to imagine
Cumulus would have been so bold if its listeners had more of a choice in country music stations. And Disney recently provoked an uproar when it
prevented its subsidiary Miramax from distributing Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11. As a senior Disney executive told The New York Times:
"It's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle." Follow the logic, and you can
see what lies ahead: If the only media companies are major corporations, controversial and dissenting views may not be aired at all.
Naturally, corporations say they would never suppress speech. But it's not their intentions that matter; it's their capabilities. Consolidation
gives them more power to tilt the news and cut important ideas out of the public debate. And it's precisely that power that the rules should prevent.