Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ritual Dance

huffington post
Norman Horowitz
Ritual Dance
Published in TelevisionWeek July 10th

Our Vice President Cheney was quoted last week speaking about government financial surveillance that was reported in the New York Times; "What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people, that offends me."

Without going into detail or defending the paper, I believe that what the New York Times and others disclosed was good for America.

Few if any governments are happy being "watched" by an unencumbered print media.

The FCC is ready to help a few companies and the government by re-examining its cross ownership rulings. Why, you might ask? Because the GIGANTIC media companies want to own more pieces of the media then they already do. These companies are not in dire straights and need no additional help at the expense of the public.

Is there a reason that benefits the public to change the rules? I think not.

Over 3 years ago the complicit FCC issued a report and order that allowed the TV station ownership limits to be increased to 45% from the previous 35 %. Courts or Congress over-ruled the FCC and reduced the caps to near 39%.

The principles of today's pending actions are almost exactly the same now as they were then, America needs diversity, more diversity, and still more diversity.

The FCC will hear testimony, examine studies, and then do what they have already decided to do--remake the rules in order to allow the media companies to further consolidate.

In order to validate their actions, they will engage in a massive "Ritual Dance," before announcing their favorable opinion.

No matter how many versions of the truth we are presented with by the media, we need more of them.

Americans need as many opinions from as many sources as possible. The FCC is trying to tell us that we have as much information as we need, so why not narrow the sources? Why would the FCC give News Corp., Disney, General Electric, and Viacom more voices than they already have?

We need an independent print media as well, one that is truly independent. With more diversity and more opinions we can come closer to the truth.

The FCC is the "spectrum" equivalent of the Antitrust Division. They should enhance and/or strengthen the notion of competition, diversity, and localism and not do as they have done in the past, to act as a rubber stamp on behalf of the major media companies.

Nearly 40 years ago. There was no internet, and the only large delivery of mass market news and other content were CBS. ABC. and NBC. The people who are advocating the proliferation of other informational voices as a reason to deregulate are partially correct in what they say, but they ignore one big time thing. Almost all news and related programs are delivered to a mass audience by CBS, General Electric (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC), Walt Disney (ABC), News Corp (FOX and Fox Cable) and Time Warner (CNN). Broadcast network ratings have diminished, but if you look at all of these delivery systems almost all are OWNED and managed by a very few companies. Would the New York Times have published the financial spying story if they were owned by General Electric?

I have a Libertarian friend who would like to see the government out of the business of regulating media and I understand his position. I also understand that companies in the media want to get bigger and more profitable. The Feds organized it to be the way it is and they just can't walk away from these most important regulations and acquiesce to the massive lobbying that constantly goes on from the major media companies.

Most big media companies would like everyone to forget that they owe their business to the spectrum space belonging to the public that they have been given. They owe a debt to ALL of us for this largess.

How quickly they forget.