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FCC Chairman Tries For More Media Consolidation

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the playing-monopoly dept.

Media 182

An anonymous reader writes "FCC chairman Kevin Martin wants to relax rules on how many media outlets one company can own in one market. Democratic commissioner Copps wants to rally the public to stop media consolidation. He says he's 'blowing a loud trumpet' for a 'call to battle' to stop the FCC from giving big media a generous Christmas present."

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182 comments

Man (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21565749)

It'd be terrible if there was a place you went for news and everyone thought alike. And for those who didn't, they'd be branded and an invisible counter would go up or down depending on how many times you disagreed.

Re:Man (2, Funny)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565797)

That's why we're not on Digg.

Re:Man (2, Insightful)

dunezone (899268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565839)

Reddit is starting to turn for the worst also. This new breed of internet people are like locust, they go from one site to another, like locust, consuming all natural resources, and then they move on again, and their coming for us soon. Just like those aliens from Independence Day.

Re:Man (1)

gangien (151940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567091)

and their coming for us soon. Just like those aliens from Independence Day.

I have mod points, bring em on!

Re:Man (1)

DaGoatSpanka (839005) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566009)

Digg is horrible. If you go against groupthink, even if you have a well researched, verifiable point, you will get "dugg" down.

Re:Man (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566921)

The only difference between Slashdot and, say, Digg is that when your view doesn't agree with the masses on Slashdot, you go to -1 instead of -842.

Re:Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566373)

Man, with a name like that my heartbeat stopped for a second - UID 2? :D

Flocking (4, Insightful)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566035)

People tend to flock to where the group-think is. Very few people want to be challenged about what they believe on a daily basis- it takes a lot of work, especially if you're willing to admit the possibility you might be wrong. Slashdot tends to have a variety of (highly nerd-centric) views, so it's easy to find a bunch of people who passionately agree with you on issues that most people don't care about: File sharing, the best Star Trek Captain, Emacs vs. Vi, etc. There will be the heretics who disagree with you, but you can always mod up those you agree with and ignore the rest.

That being said, Slashdot would be horrible as my only news source. It's got a huge number of opinions, but most of them are the idealistic ravings of an intelligent but dysfunctional individual with minimal real-world experience. (Something like 80% of non-troll posts are in this category, including most of my own). Then you've got the corporate shills, the grammar Nazis, and the occasional individual who knows what he's talking about. Plus, there are all these rambling posts that are almost on topic, but don't really address the issue at hand- not to mention the article.

Re:Flocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566311)

Then you've got the corporate shills
 
you mean anyone you disagree with?

Re:Flocking (1)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567867)

the occasional individual who knows what he's talking about

I was wondering when you were going to mention me...

Let's Remember (5, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565773)

Let's remember that Jesus loves large media conglomerates. Jesus despises a multiplicity of media providers in any given market. Jesus loathes a functioning marketplace, preferring monopolies that will supply money, trips, golf club membership and hookers to Senators and Representatives in exchange for screwing the average American. Jesus despises the average American. Jesus is all about the money, and that shows in His favorite country, the United States of America.

Re:Let's Remember (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21565991)

          TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
          T                        T
          X  I Like Ponies!!!111!  X
          X                ,       X
          X               })`-=--. X
          X              }/  ._.-' X
          X     _.-=-...-'  /      X
          X  {{|   ,       |       X
   ______ X  {{\    |  \  /_       X
  /   O O\   }} \ ,'---'\___\      X
/        \                         X
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  I\____\   \        TT
  I I I I\__/        II
   \I_I_I/_         _II
           \ _ _ _ i IIo
            \----- i_IIO
             \       LL

Jesus loves the little children!

01001010 01100101 01110011 01110101 01110011 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101
01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101100 01101001 01110100 01110100
01101100 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101000 01101001 01101100 01100100 01110010 01100101
01101110 00101100 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101
00100000 01100011 01101000 01101001 01101100 01100100 01110010 01100101 01101110 00100000
01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010
01101100 01100100 00101110 00100000 00100000 01010010 01100101 01100100 00101100 00100000
01011001 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 01110111 00101100 00100000 01000010 01101100
01100001 01100011 01101011 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01010111 01101000
01101001 01110100 01100101 00101100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01111001 00100111
01110010 01100101 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01110000 01110010 01100101
01100011 01101001 01101111 01110101 01110011 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01101000
01101001 01110011 00100000 01110011 01101001 01100111 01101000 01110100 00101110 00100000
00100000 01001010 01100101 01110011 01110101 01110011 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110
01100101 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101100 01101001 01110100
01110100 01101100 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101000 01101001 01101100 01100100 01110010
01100101 01101110 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000
01110111 01101111 01110010 01101100 01100100 00100001

From... (0, Offtopic)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566239)

...First Post to First Reply to second post. You must be slipping.

Re:Let's Remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566231)

Jesus loathes a functioning marketplace, preferring monopolies that will supply money, trips, golf club membership and hookers to Senators and Representatives in exchange for screwing the average American.
You can forget about the trips and golf club memberships if you want.

Jesus also... (3, Funny)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566283)

Jesus also loves you, but everyone else thinks your an asshole.

Jesus doesn't like you (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566751)

I have it on good authority that He looks poorly on the use of "your" where "you're" was intended. And don't even try to use an apostrophe when making plurals.

Spelling... (1)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566815)

Strange, I went back and changed it before hitting "Submit".

It's actually a peeve of my own. "CD's" instead of CDs.

*Shrug* Oh well...

Re:Jesus doesn't like you (1)

jlowery (47102) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567529)

Jesus prefers "you all", but will accept "y'all" in informal correspondence.

Re:Let's Remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566319)

All religions suck, and infect their host countries.

America's no different than anywhere else in that way.

Re:Let's Remember (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566421)

Has anyone else noticed the sudden surge in religion-oriented trolling?

Re:Let's Remember (1)

Merusdraconis (730732) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567329)

I don't think there's been much of an increase, feels like it's been going on since the Crusades.

Re:Let's Remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567615)

1. Saudi Arabian religious fanatics kill 3,000+ in NYC
2. Texan religious fanatics try and turn the USA into a fundamentalist theocracy
3. Religious fanatics sentence a rape victim to 200 lashes in Saudi Arabia
4. Religious fanatics destroy 2000 year old Buddhist statues in Afganistan
5. Religious fanatics kill a woman while rioting over cartoons
6. Sudanese religious fanatics try to imprison a schoolteacher for allowing her students to name a Teddy Bear Muhammad
7. Muslim religious fanatics blow up random civilians in Jerusalem
8. Jewish religious fanatics displace local people and put up settlements in the West Bank

Jeez, I could go on for days. Do you seriously wonder why there's so much religion-oriented trolling?

Re:Let's Remember (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567069)

Hey, dood, how come Jesus is always soooo special? There were two other guys that were crucified along with him that day - anybody remember those two doods? WTF? Let's spread the joy, after all, don't always give Jesus the limelight. What were those two guys names.......if I could just remember......

Re:Let's Remember (1)

wizzahd (995765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567611)

Let me also point out that the algorithm constantly finds Jesus.

FCC (0, Troll)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565791)

Does the FCC do anything besides stifle innovation, create monopolies, and tell us what can and can't be said in a "free"?

Re:FCC (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565817)

that was supposed to be: "free" country.

Re:FCC (1, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565919)

Creating monopolies? They are also stopping them. The article is about them wanting to change that, so to answer your question, yes. The FCC currently prevents large media conglomerates from getting larger. Without the FCC, there would likely be only one media conglomerate in America, owning all publishing, television, radio, and movies.

Re:FCC (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566617)

No, in truth the FCC acts as a public opinion damper. Without their protector agencies of the government, large conglomerates would get burned off the face of the Earth by large mobs of angry people they've screwed over. This would be the so called "frontier justice" (i.e. the kind that works for the little guy better than it does for the big guy.)

Government never helps the little guy, never has. Even Yahweh in the Old Testament (this is for you Christians and Jews) tells the people of Israel who asked for a King from God, that he will send them one, who will take their sons as soldiers, their daughters as maids, and tax them 10% and in Yahweh's own words... "and then they shall be slaves."

Interestingly the same can be said for Jesus, but this implies actually READING THE DAMN TEXTS... (my own understanding of them grows daily, and I wouldn't consider me a religious man by any measure of the word, I dare say I have a beef with hierarchical religion and systems of control in general. Leadership is fine in my book, rulership is not, especially coerced rulership.)

Re:FCC (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566697)

Interestingly the same can be said for Jesus
Out of curiosity, would you care to cite some verses that support that?

Re:FCC (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568113)

Quick question, who does the government kill? The competition. Always.

Who was the government in Judea? Herod father and later Herod the son. Who was the imperial government there? Rome.

Who tried to kill Jesus? Herod the father when he was young (the flight to Egypt story). Who later tried to entrap Jesus into being nabbed as a rebel or Caesar denier/tax resister? Herod and the Pharisees. Who later conspired to kill and who actually killed Jesus? Bingo, Rome... mostly at the behest of the local government, that being the man's own people. Sort of like the county or state governments escalating his case up to the Supreme Court (or at least a Federal court) and then having the man executed for pissing on some statute or other and really upsetting the status quo (namely the rich Jews were pissed off that the rabble rouser was going to start a revolt, that would lead to an actual revolution instead of the usual revenue inducing bloodshed they were used to... so they had the man removed... resurrection or not, the historic part is likely to have happened in some form or other, betrayals of this type have always occurred when the people were promised a few breadcrumbs from the master's table in exchange for the life of a man who said "work for it and its yours, but YOU have to do it." Seems self starting impulses are about as common in history as they are today.

Hope you enjoyed the paraphrase, I'm not really that hard and set about digging up verse. I got the gist of it, I'm not a rabbi or a priest, so I don't make a habit of rote memorization, no more than any American kid makes a habit of memorizing our own Constitution or even the Declaration of Independence, despite swearing loyalty to said documents upon taking any form of government job or tax/wealth redistribution handout job. But at least your life or health isn't endangered or threatened by my lack of memorization, while it most certainly is by those who take an oath and never deliver on their word.

http://anti-state.com/redford/redford4.html [anti-state.com] A very nice view of the Bible, one I hadn't looked into since I walked away from the Church. That being said, this fellow seems quite positive that Jesus was intended as a liberator, not as a ham fisted patriarch for a corrupt church (one of which he faced in his day and age) and a totally irreparable construct (government) of which there were equal amounts of samples in his day also.

That link should help you out a bit, if it hasn't been changed, it posts a very good view on what I mentioned... he seems far more apt to quote bible verses which you should enjoy.

I've read the Bible in several different languages and have found incongruencies in all the translations, so if the translations are THIS piss poor with professional and highly paid translators in today's day and age when language is largely standardized (as are the translation tables for most of the mainstream languages) one has to wonder how piss poor the translations were from SPOKEN Aramaic/Hebrew to WRITTEN Greek, and later Written Latin, and yet again Written French/Spanish/Portuguese and finally Written German and English (and no, I don't speak them all, nor read them all). Nevermind those nasty little things like shifting "newspeak" meanings of all the languages in question, which immediately casts the light of doubt on any kind of job translators would've done.

Re:FCC creates its own necessity (2, Interesting)

jnadke (907188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566121)

In the ideal world, there would be no government regulation. However, because radio waves are a government regulated commodity, Joe Schmoe can't hijack, for example, FOX's airwaves and broadcast his own competing opinion. Sure, it starts a "signal strength" battle, but energy is a limited commodity itself. Eventuall Joe Schmoe can win, only a smaller area. Many Joe Schmoes can pool their resources and win a bunch of smaller areas. To an extent, the Internet has given Joe Schmoe and Media Conglomerates a level playing field. For the first time, their voices can be heard equally. That is, until Net Neutrality gets bashed in the face. However, this is merely a leveled playing field. For every website/blog started by Joe Schmoe, the Media Conglomerates can start one. The Media Conglomerates still have the airwaves... which are protected from Joe Schmoe by the Government, thereby creating it's own necessity to regulate the Media Conglomerates.

Re:FCC creates its own necessity (formatted) (0, Redundant)

jnadke (907188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566135)

In the ideal world, there would be no government regulation.

However, because radio waves are a government regulated commodity, Joe Schmoe can't hijack, for example, FOX's airwaves and broadcast his own competing opinion. Sure, it starts a "signal strength" battle, but energy is a limited commodity itself. Eventually Joe Schmoe can win, only a smaller area. Many Joe Schmoes can pool their resources and win a bunch of smaller areas.

To an extent, the Internet has given Joe Schmoe and Media Conglomerates a level playing field. For the first time, their voices can be heard equally. That is, until Net Neutrality gets bashed in the face.

However, this is merely a leveled playing field. For every website/blog started by Joe Schmoe, the Media Conglomerates can start one. The Media Conglomerates still have the airwaves... which are protected from Joe Schmoe by the Government, thereby creating it's own necessity to regulate the Media Conglomerates.

Hmmmm. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566481)

I am a registered libertarian, and I have to say that even here, I prefer the FCC to not allow this. The reason is that the gov. already created the monopolies, but granting exclusive owning of the airwaves. As such, I think that if they are going to give monopolies, then it should be regulated. Of course, if they would create a space where anybody could compete (i.e. think of the open regions), then it should be winner take all assuming that you limit the power of the radio.

Re:FCC (3, Insightful)

RabidOverYou (596396) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567319)

The FCC is the Federal Buggy Whip Commission. They are regulating a bunch of dead, dying, or at the very least rapidly-changing businesses. The FCC getting in the action will help neither the businesses nor their consumers. If the radio/tv biz was made 100% unregulated, they'd still have less than even odds of surviving. The web will consume them. You're going to watch TV by browsing to www.desperatehousewifes.com. With the exception of real live stuff, podcasts will eat radio, and even the live will get done somehow or another. Heh, maybe all that free wifi will eventually work.

My fear of allowing the FCC to get up off the mat, is that they'll proclaim they're needed to regulate the Web. They're going to try to stick their nose in the tent.

-- Rabid.

This is old news; Martin's tried this before (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565799)

Perhaps it's Sneaky Time to do this on Holiday Break (for Congress, anyway) so that he won't catch too much hell.

It would make a nice present for Murdoch, and the other media gluttons.

Where I live, we have a newspaper monopoly brought to you by Gannett and the quality of the newspaper plainly stinks, now that they've put all of the competition out of business.

That pesky competition stuff seems all too familiar at the FCC these days. It makes one wonder what might happen if the FCC had the interests of the American consumer in mind, rather than that of the media and telco mega-corps.

Re:This is old news; Martin's tried this before (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565961)

Where I live, we have a newspaper monopoly brought to you by Gannett and the quality of the newspaper plainly stinks, now that they've put all of the competition out of business.

And better still, when their circulation goes down because nobody wants to read the crappy newspapers, they get to blame it on the internet.

Re:This is old news; Martin's tried this before (4, Funny)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566059)

Oh, now that Craigslist and others have eaten their classifieds, and online communities do better news, they're starting to pay attention.

They do this by wrapping the Sunday Comics in tear-away ads, and other slimey things that their sales guys must drool over.

They launched a city site, and have all sorts of 'business partners' to feed and link content. Seemingly astute, but state of the art 1998.

Their website currently as a registration policy that makes the old WSJ and NYT premiums seem laughable by comparison.

I think I like their old crabby-assed publisher better. At least he knew how to pay reporters and do investigative journalism. The reporters are all but gone, and there hasn't been an investigative piece since the takeover. Why ruffle advertiser feathers, after all?

Re:This is old news; Martin's tried this before (1)

djlosch (556330) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566247)

If slashdot had a "misleading" tag for headlines, I would be adding that right about now.

Martin is in favor of implementing the next level of the 70/70 rule which would be really nasty in capping a lot of the things Comcast can do because Comcast is already at 27% market share.

However, Martin is also in favor of destroying net neutrality, and anyone who knows anything about economics knows that tiered networking will bring media consolidation to websites.
-- law student who spent last 3 weeks researching telecom law for senior thesis.

Re:This is old news; Martin's tried this before (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566387)

Bravo on the thesis.

Martin's not very nice towards the consumer/populist mentality that he's sworn to protect.

We the Major Corps, in order to form a more perfect shareholder experience, establish Justice, ensure domestic Profits, provide for the common litigation defence, promote the general Marketing Plan, and Secure the the blessings of the SEC, to ourselves and Posterity, do ordain......

Re:This is old news; Martin's tried this before (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566415)

Perhaps it's Sneaky Time to do this on Holiday Break (for Congress, anyway) so that he won't catch too much hell.
Ah, you haven't been reading the news, the dems blocked bushie boy on his recess appointments by putting someone in the senate every two days as a profroma session. Bang in and out 30 seconds a senator (or a hookers) dream. [come to think of it, they are both the same thing]

shrub was really pissed cause he couldn't get another Bolton in. http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/bush-blasts-senate-over-pro-forma-sessions-2007-12-03.html [thehill.com]

competiton on the airwaves (2, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567205)

That pesky competition stuff seems all too familiar at the FCC these days. It makes one wonder what might happen if the FCC had the interests of the American consumer in mind, rather than that of the media and telco mega-corps.

If the FCC really wanted competition on the airwaves they'd allow Pirate [wikipedia.org] and Micropower [wikipedia.org] broadcasters. But instead the FCC does what it can to shutdown them.

Falcon

Re:competiton on the airwaves (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567681)

If the FCC really wanted competition on the airwaves they'd allow Pirate and Micropower broadcasters. But instead the FCC does what it can to shutdown them.

Pirate radio stations are prima facia imposisble to allow. And competition does not mean anarchy. Aside from the fact that they would collide with one another, and thus interfer greatly, micropower stations make copyright law much harder to enforce.

Pffft. (0, Flamebait)

djasbestos (1035410) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565801)

As if Clear Channel and Rupert Murdoch needed even more media outlets to turn into mindless, commercial-ridden crap...

There is a happy medium between anti-trust and monopoly, and this is not a move toward equilibrium. At least someone internal is vocally disagreeing. Go Copp!

Re:Pffft. (1, Interesting)

tmittz (260795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565869)

While you might not care for Murdoch's brand of politics or his business style, it is difficult to argue that he has done anything but increase diversity in the media marketplace. Before he launched Fox, there were 3 networks. He created a new one, with a distinctly different politic perspective.

He's been attacked mercilessly for this Dow Jones merger, owning "2 of the 5 biggest newspapers". Except of one those is the Post, which operates at a loss. Murdoch is subsidizing an unsuccessful conservative paper to keep in it production. More diversity, not less.

Consolidation has allowed Murdoch (and presumably others) to keep open additional channels and voices, even unprofitable ones, with the money made by successful ventures. It's a good thing, not bad.

Re:Pffft. (2, Insightful)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566113)

That sounds a lot like, "It's a good thing that we have given the executive so much power, because our president is doing a great job keeping Americans safe from the Iraqi terrorists." It's ok for George's people to listen to your phone calls. But what do you do, once Hillary is elected? Suddenly you're paying for everyone's manditory healthcare insurance, farmed out to some no-bid-contract provider, and she is listening to your phone calls.

What do you do, when you justify centralization of authority, and then after that, the central authority becomes your enemy?

Principles, not examples. Safeguards, not circumstances.

What I mean is, some day, a leftwing commie hippie is going to own 66% of the media. That block will be diverse, too. One channel will be full of ads for marijuana, another full of ads for sex chat lines, and that's not counting The Satan Channel (even though it operates at a loss, subsidized by the sex chat lines).

Re:Pffft. (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567497)

The only difference between a leftwing commie hippie and who owns the media now is that I think the pinko commie would have a little more respect for multiple viewpoints, whether or not he or she agrees with them. Not that I am for monopolization in any way, but it shouldn't matter whether or not you trust or believe the ruling power. The checks are there for a reason, to make sure that power doesn't go unchecked. There used to be a time when presidents filled their cabinets with dissenting opinions to get a broader scope of influence to make better informed decisions, rather that some buddies you went to school with who would rather kiss your ass than give informed advice. But you do make a good point:
Principles, not examples. Safeguards, not circumstances.

Re:Pffft. (2, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566603)

While you might not care for Murdoch's brand of politics or his business style, it is difficult to argue that he has done anything but increase diversity in the media marketplace.
Perhaps for now, but like his now-dead compatriate, Kerry Packer, his unwavering faith in himself is a curse to you all because of his own mortality. Let me explain...

Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch were players in the Australian media market place, they each staked their claim but from different parts of the market - Murdoch from News Papers and Packer from Television stations, both were conservatives. They both expanded until they were eyeing each other off, Murdoch looking over some local television stations and Packer eyeing off some print news assets, there was only one thing stopping them, Cross media ownership laws. Now they had a common cause.

In Australia they lobbied tirelessly to have cross media ownership laws broken down until finally our previous conservative government gave in and relaxed the laws, the buying frenzy began even before the laws were passed, and as we regress to what is happening in Canada something happened that gave us a glimpse of post-media-mogul media.

Murdoch finally realised that the Australian market was just too small for him to play in anymore, and expanded into America, grooming his son for taking over the growing media empire.

Packer expanded into Internet gambling assets, bought into Fox and kept an iron fist on the control of the Nine network in Australia. When he was passing the media empire over to his son, you could see the glint of pride in his eyes. Then he died, James sold the nine network to concentrate on greener pastures (I guess he wasn't interested in his fathers passion), leaving nine as a shell of what it once was pwned by some faceless investment con-glomerate.

The legacy of both these men are the media cross ownership laws as a template for the world. The moral of the story is once the man with the passion dies you are left with the banal framework of the control he established and you might not like who/what takes over that control - that is what happened here.

Re:Pffft. (1)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567899)

You're timeline's a bit out of whack - Murdoch gave up on the Wide Brown Land for the Land of Hope and Glory years before the cross-media laws were changed, and Packer's TV interests have been on the downward slide for years (propped up by their other media interests e.g. magazines, and gambling) - but otherwise, you're spot-on.

Really, I just dropped into this thread to watch people's heads explode from the "Big Media is Evil!" / "FCC is evil!" dichotomy ;-)

Funnily enough, Australia started to avoid the worst stupidity of the American situation - where the FCC is both a technical and content standards regulator - with the divesting of roles between the ACMA / ACCC / ABA at various times during both the late Hawke and early Howard governments. Unfortunately, a lot of that good was undone in the later Howard years, to the point that nobody - not even the relevant organisations - really knows who's responsible for exactly what, except that even more of the content regulation role is now in the hands of the broadcasters themselves.

Still, we live in a land where televisual boobies aren't taboo, and free-to-air TV can broadcast the word "shit" at prime-time and "fuck" after 9:30pm...

Re:Pffft. (3, Funny)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565907)

Let the babies have their bottles. I dare any of the uber-corporations to erect a media outlet that does not suck donkey balls. If Ropert Morduck wants to own every station in my market, let him! I won't be listening to any of that garbage. I have iPods, CDs and superior satellite radio. What do I need with a Ropert Murduck? Sounds like a skin condition. Throw another media outlet on the barbie, douche!

Ugh (5, Insightful)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565827)

A strong, independent media (meaning: lots of independent sources for news and commentary) is essential to the health of a democracy. (Or even a republic.) Many points of view allows the (cliché inbound!) market of ideas to determine what's best. When there's only a handful of humongous players in that market, they all tend to have an identical set of interests and will likely end up as an oligopoly, much to our detriment.

Media consolidation is, overall, a Bad Thing.

Media Monopoly Cartel (5, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565833)

The US already has a media monopoly cartel [usfca.edu] :

In 1983, there were 50 companies that owned nearly all of the major US media sources. Today, only five corporations, "The Big Five," absorb the lion's share of the 37,000 different media outlets (daily newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, book publishers, and movie companies) in the United States. According to Bagdikian, the number of media companies dropped drastically due to many recent mergers and acquisitions. In 1983, the biggest media merger in history was a $340 million deal involving the Gannett Company, a newspaper chain, which bought Combined Communications Corporation, whose assets included billboards, newspapers, and broadcast stations. Then, during the 1990s a small number of America's largest corporations purchased more public communications power than ever before. In 1996, Disney's acquisition of ABC/Capital Cities was a $19 billion deal -- 56 times larger than the 1983 deal. In 2001, AOL's acquisition of Time Warner dwarfed even this deal at $182 billion, ten times the price of the 1996 Disney deal and 537 times the price of the Gannett merger.

[...]

99.9% of the 1,468 daily newspapers in the United States are the only daily in their cities. As Bagdikian explains:

That 99.9 percent of morning papers are monopolies in their own cities understates the problem. Owners exchange papers with each other or buy and sell papers so each can have as many newspapers as possible in a geographic cluster. This permits individual owners to have something close to a monopoly for daily printed advertising in that region and in many cases to use one regional newsroom to serve all their papers in that cluster.



These media monopolies present our entire society through their filter of corporate priorities:

(1) ensure that the parent company is never cast in a negative light, and (2) find ways to plant positive news items about the parent company. Bagdikian details several examples in which journalists were fired and stories killed simply because the subject was in some way injurious or potentially injurious to the parent company. For instance, a survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editors found that 33% of all editors working for newspaper chains said they would not feel free to run a news story that was damaging to their parent firm.


And of course that "info monoculture" dictates politics that can be rigged most easily by a single political party, so long as it is thoroughly corporatist. Which is why the US government is getting rid of the rules that protect a free market of consumers and diverse startups, in favor of corporate anarchy.

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (1, Interesting)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565983)

So, if the current practice of having a federal bureaucracy that dictates who can own what and what people are allowed to say, allows the current state of the media to exist, how great is it? Might there not be more freedom of competition, and more voices, if there weren't a federal agency charged with managing our ability to talk and write? There wasn't much push for government management of the media in early America (except maybe the Sedition Act) yet even with that era's primitive tech, there were a variety of newspaper and pamphlet voices out there. (Anyone who says that modern media are biased and rabid, by the way, should read an eighteenth-century newspaper.)

As one example, what if we found a way to make the radio spectrum freely available to all without mutual interference, so that as many people who wanted to broadcast, could? If it weren't for the scarcity of usable frequencies imposed by past-generation technology, would we need or want the FCC to be telling corporations how many stations they can own in an area. And would the FCC be able to impose censorship or (currently at bay) a "fairness doctrine" using the excuse that it can impose any restrictions it wants on a limited public resource? We may actually be seeing this unlimited-resource situation in the Net;

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566235)

Like I said, you're describing a corporate anarchy. It is precisely the deregulation that the story we're discussing documents that has allowed the media consolidation I just detailed.

The early US had lots of media competition, but it had no corporations. Corporate personhood, which offered legal protections to corporations, wasn't invented until 1886 [wikipedia.org] , when a railroad monopoly faked a legal ruling in the newspaper monopoly it owned, on which the entire corporate scam is based. Within a generation, monopoly corporations had so abused America that they were finally regulated a little with "antitrust" laws, but they've steadily crawled back to unprecedented power and consolidation.

Early America also had no "truth in advertising" or other consumer protection, and frequent ripoffs and unchallenged political abuses. It was also a relatively small country (0.3% in 1776 as in 2007), though the ability to independently publish was very widespread. But as conditions for publishing improved, that power fell into increasingly monopolistic hands. As is the case with all power when the people don't organize to protect ourselves from it - which is exactly what we started America for.

You're right about tech making the FCC's mission irrelevant, if noninterference is part of the tech. I impatiently await phased arrays freeing spectrum myself. Though we'll still need our government to prohibit unhealthy radiation emissions from telecom products, but that should be part of the FDA, the Health agency, or a product safety agency. But you're confusing the FCC's role in controlling content, which is already irrelevant with media client filter tech, widespread tagging activities and busybody ratings orgs, with the FCC's role in controlling the market itself. The media is a unique industry for control by government, because it is so integrated with our government structure that it's still referred to as the Fourth Estate [wikipedia.org] , even though the first (clergy) is (officially) gone, the second and third merged. When spectrum management is unnecessary or minimized, the FCC should be replaced by a "Telecom and Media Agency" which oversees media, prioritizing market protections, consumer protections, primarily discouraging monopolies and cartels.

A bottom line example: without decreasing government protection, this media cartel is threatening the Network Neutrality that makes the Internet the most accessible, diverse - and therefore essential - info source in our society. Markets don't protect themselves. We establish governments to protect ourselves from predators, like the corporations that control most of the media. When we beat them back with better regulation, we'll have a freer society and better media, through increased competition among all of them. Rather than the cozy relationship where the media and government mutually exploit each other to their mutual benefit, entirely at the public's expense.

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566343)

Mod parent up, specifically for the fourth paragraph, which spells it all out to be understood by our mindset.

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (2, Insightful)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566465)

Interesting. Would you agree with me that (1) where no scarcity of "voices" exists, as on the Net, there should be no restriction on how many channels one entity can own, how many people they can reach, or what they can say short of fraud, libel, death threats etc.? And/or that (2) to the extent that the FCC or its successor has the power to control ownership of media, it will try to use that power to control content and should be restrained from doing so?

Where I'm most likely to disagree with you here is that I'm skeptical that we'll get "a freer society" from increased government control. Look at the nature of the coercion being used by/against the media, versus the coercion involved in the American Revolution as you refer to it. In the Revolution the people our (moral) ancestors fought were literally pointing guns at them and "declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever." In the case of modern media, the abuses you seem to be referring to are corporations doing things like lying to consumers, taking bribes for good press, or trying through legal means to change how they charge for their services (the Net Neutrality issue). There's no violence involved in those actions, and not even fraud in the last one, and there's always the possibility of an upstart coming along and starting their own media organization. (Fox News, for all its faults, was built as an alternative to what was seen as a monopoly of press opinion.) So, I don't think the comparison between "taming the rampant corporations" and "stopping the British from burning our city" is fair.

On a related note, I see the US health care issue in a similar way. If the current system is so bad, with government heavily involved in it, should we be imposing greater regulation that fossilizes delivery methods (eg. enshrining the idea that employers should pay), or finding ways to encourage people to invent a new free-market model that blows the existing one out of the water?

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566737)

Although I do agree with what you said strictly in (1), I don't quite agree with what I think you really mean. I don't think there should be any restriction on, say, how many websites, or its share of the audience (traffic by headcount) any one entity (like eg. MSN or AOL) can have. But I do think that if smaller competitors can demonstrate market conditions that force competition with them to be unfair in a way that consumers don't have equal opportunity to choose the smaller competitors instead (and grow them), then consumers have legitimate market protection available from the government we create for those protections. Primarily in finding ways to encourage the disadvantaged competitors, rather than discourage the market controllers, but that kind of discouragement is certainly a legitimate option for the people to use by the government to protect ourselves.

The government should indeed abide by the 1st Amendment and keep out of the content restriction business. Instead its legitimate job of protecting the vulnerable (including children with irresponsible parents, who grow up to cause lots of damage to their neighbors) can be satisfied by education, including public service messages, and promotion of screening software, if the public isn't using them enough. Perhaps even drastic interventions like requiring some percentage of "home media terminals" (eg. TVs, Windows/Mac PCs, etc) include at least some screening software meeting some minimum standards, and pointing to upgrade choices, if the people turn out to need it. But not make any content choices itself, which it does not have power to do as the 1st Amendment explains.

To be specific about Net Neutrality, there is no way for an "upstart" to compete with a cartel of the incumbent telcos (including cable and the other few backbone operators) collaborating to disadvantage access to messages and content outside the preferred corporate offerings. Even Google, which owns a fair amount of nationwide (and perhaps global) fiber, lots of datacenter operations, plenty of content, a beloved brand, soon some radio spectrum, and lots and lots of money, is threatened by AT&T and Verizon (and their cartel) working to extort from them. Real upstarts don't stand a chance.

Especially since the Internet was produced by public investment through the government (despite protests from telcos at every step, even after it became popular), then largely handed to private corporations as an incredibly valuable giveaway that underwrites much of their profits, the people have a real right to keep it in public service, protecting it from subversion to primarily corporate interest in conflict with the public interest. Just because too much government control is bad, doesn't mean too little is good.

I don't know where you're coming from with the healthcare example, except that healthcare/insurance corps have produced a "libertarian" hoax that is precisely wrong. Government healthcare and insurance is among the best performing parts of the US healthcare system, just like in the other countries with which we compete globally. The problems lie mainly in the private insurance corps extracting profit by making care worse and scarcer, and the scarcity of doctors protected by the doctor industry making it artifically hard for new doctors to get educations, certifications and practice. I don't think you're going to try to say that healthcare would be better if, say, the government no longer invested in medical educations or infrastructure, or got out of the business of deciding which medical "content" is legitimate for selling in the market. This analogy is a dead end for your argument.

Coercion is bad both because of the effects of the means to its ends, the violence or threats itself, as well as its ends in forcing actions despite the target's preference. Just because the modern world often avoids blatant coercion in favor of merely restricting choices doesn't mean the coercive effect of forcing decisions is gone. Market abuses aren't as bad as armed invasion, but that doesn't mean they're acceptable. Just because Orwell's _1984_ is a hell we've largely avoided doesn't mean Huxley's _Brave New World_ isn't a nightmare we must steer away from. Just because the people are largely safe from government power abuse (though still not enough), doesn't mean that we're safe from the newer threat to the people that corporations offer.

We live in a complex society with a lot of power to do us wrong, and a lot of power to do ourselves right. There is a balance of power among people, corporations and government that is right. Currently, corporations have too much power, government has too much in some ways and too little in others, and the people largely too little. Just avoiding violent coercion isn't enough, either - we have to protect ourselves from being lied into damage and abuse that interferes with our right to getting the best lives we can without harming others. The media business is one of the worst imbalances we've got, and the only way that will work to fix it is proper government protection of the market. The opposite of where it's been going for generations.

libertarians and health insurance (2, Informative)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568157)

healthcare/insurance corps have produced a "libertarian" hoax that is precisely wrong.

Neither healthcare nor health insurance were created by Libertarians in the US. The current health insurance industry was created by a Democrat, FDR. During WWII, because of wage and price control laws [time.com] , employers couldn't pay employees more so to entice people to work in factories and other establishments the government allowed employers to pay for health insurance for the employees. And still today employer have an incentive to offer insurance instead of just paying employees more. If the laws favoring employer provided health insurance [becker-posner-blog.com] , they pay no tax on it, were gotten rid of and employers were able to pay employees more so they could buy health insurance on their own healthcare would be cheaper and more people would be more keen to hold costs down. And by allowing people to buy and pay for their own healthcare they will be able to decide what sort of coverage they want, if they only want catastrophic coverage they can pay less for it versus another person who wants everything covered. Then with more people paying more out of pocket they will be more willing to shop for lower prices. That's called competition, you know, what many blame on driving workers pay down? Let competition drive cost down.

Falcon

corporate aristocracy (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567593)

So, I don't think the comparison between "taming the rampant corporations" and "stopping the British from burning our city" is fair.

No less than Thomas Jefferson saw the risk of the Corporate Aristocracy [amazon.com] . Specifically Jefferson said "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Falcon

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567117)

So, if I understand you correctly, Doc, America is a Corporate Fascist State run as a criminal enterprise in a state of artificial perpetual war. Thought so......

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567697)

Largely, though quite a soft implementation (with some defining exceptions). Though it's largely through the mediated acceptance of that condition by the voters, and perhaps more by the nonvoters.

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567483)

We establish governments to protect ourselves from predators, like the corporations that control most of the media. When we beat them back with better regulation, we'll have a freer society and better media, through increased competition among all of them.

You don't create competition by regulating an industry, you create competition by making it easy for competition to form. If I wanted to I should be able to start my own radio station without a license therefore creating competition for the established broadcasters. I don't like media consolidation but the way to fight it is by opening up the airwaves. The only regulations should be on certain frequencies for emergency personnel and services like ambulances and police, and maybe one for the safety of equipment.

Falcon

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567687)

You're going to have to explain how the market is served by your buying a transmitter to drown out the signal of your incumbent competition, broadcasting their format to their old listeners, but with your own ads inserted.

You make it easier for competition to form by protecting the market from domination by a cartel (among other cultivation). That requires regulation - proper regulation. We have living proof of how deregulation, except for regulations that enforce a billionaire's club barrier to entry, creates monopolistic conditions. Since you can't even recognize the basic necessary function of the FCC regulating signal noninterference, you're not going to get anywhere making equally naive pronouncements about government role in mediating an economy.

broadcasting Cartel (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567401)

As one example, what if we found a way to make the radio spectrum freely available to all without mutual interference, so that as many people who wanted to broadcast, could? If it weren't for the scarcity of usable frequencies imposed by past-generation technology, would we need or want the FCC to be telling corporations how many stations they can own in an area. And would the FCC be able to impose censorship or (currently at bay) a "fairness doctrine" using the excuse that it can impose any restrictions it wants on a limited public resource? We may actually be seeing this unlimited-resource situation in the Net;

It's good to see someone who supports pirate and micropower broadcasters. With today's technology there can be a lot more radio and TV stations that won't interfere with each other in given locations so there is really no need for expensive licenses to broadcast, and the license is the major cost of broadcasting.

Falcon

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566043)

corporate anarchy very quickly becomes corporate tyrrany.

That's Western innovation, baby! (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566151)

And of course that "info monoculture" dictates politics that can be rigged most easily by a single political party, so long as it is thoroughly corporatist. Which is why the US government is getting rid of the rules that protect a free market of consumers and diverse startups, in favor of corporate anarchy.

In the East they have official state news sources like Pravda or Xinhua, while in the West we have a vast network of ostensibly separate and independent news sources which are ultimately through various obscured financial ties effectively the same thing! Go capitalism!

Oh wait I'm sorry I'm being cynical. After all, the NYT did sincerely apologize for being credulous parrots of anything the government wanted them to say. I'm sure that's all in the past now. I must have gotten my scandalous anti-American ideas from the liberal media.

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (1)

Tancred (3904) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567043)

99.9% of the 1,468 daily newspapers in the United States are the only daily in their cities.

Hmm. Only one in a thousand? I live in Seattle and there's the Times and the Post-Intelligencer. That's 2. So either Seattle is unique and someone rounded up to 99.9% or that stat is bogus.

Also, I've seen Michael Copps speak. He seems to have intelligence and integrity. Great combo.

Re:Media Monopoly Cartel (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567665)

Seattle is very much unusual in media independence, as you should know from living there. And of course 99.9% is rounded, because there's more than just 3 dailys with local competition. But it's not much of an exaggeration, especially in the places that usually vote Republican, as I know from visiting a lot of it (though of course local readers wouldn't know).

Michael Kopps seems to be a decent choice to run the FCC when the current administration is over. Whether he gets it, or who instead, will be a good barometer for the fate of the country.

Kevin Martin is a hard nut to crack (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565853)

Funny that a few stories down we should have an example of one of Kevin Martin's ventures in the other direction. [slashdot.org] Then of course is one of my favorite quotes of his, "The public interest is not what any company wants." Not particularly eloquent, but succinct and true enough. I like to think the man's heart is pointing in the right direction. Anyone care to comment?

Re:Kevin Martin is a hard nut to crack (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566687)

Maybe I'm a bit cynical ... but isn't that just to protect AT&T?

Diversity. (3, Informative)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565901)

I just finished reading The Wisdom of Crowds [wikipedia.org] . Great book, highly recommended. Anyway in the context of group decisions the book postulates that one of the fundamental requirements to make good group decisions is diversity. Without it you end up in the "me too" situation where opinions cascade through the group simply because there are less building blocks to improve on. With less diversity there is less granularity to approaching a problem leading to situations where a groups decision doesn't fit the original problem as well as it could have.
Right now the book is just a proposal - it will take much more time to empirically test the ideas put forth in it.

Re:Diversity. (1)

psychicninja (1150351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566003)

I couldn't agree more!

Re:Diversity. (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566089)

:) Tongue in cheek or do you really mean it! ;)

Re:Diversity. (1)

jellie (949898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567629)

Abraham Lincoln appointed several of his political rivals to his Cabinet, and most historians agree that the diversity of opinions and perspectives helped him understand the situation better and control dissent. This was also the subject of Doris Kearns Goodwin's biographical book about Lincoln, Team of Rivals.

Where do I go? (1)

CityZen (464761) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565973)

Okay, I got my keyboard, I'm ready to fight.

Where do I go to fight this? Write my representatives/senators? Or what?

Contacting the FCC (2, Informative)

ZipK (1051658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566489)

You can find the contact e-mail addresses of all five FCC commissioners here [fcc.gov] .

Opposite Day? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566001)

Is it opposite day already? I thought the FCC was supposed to regulate such things.

If dinosaur media is dead, then why the outcry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566335)

With all the claims that Newspapers are dead and meaningless, why the strong objections to cross-ownership of a TV (or Radio) station and Newspaper in the same market?

And if America truly has "freedom of the press", why put special restrictions on who can operate a newspaper at all?

Limiting freedom... (0, Troll)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566351)

In order to defend the freedom of expression, which is somehow vaguely threatened by media consolidation, the opponents are willing to sacrifice the very real freedom of business-owners to sell their businesses to whomever they want to...

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567025)

Don't pretend that this is about Joe Business Owner selling the company he built at a healthy profit, this is about five or fewer corporations controlling the vast majority of media in the entire United States who want to make it four or fewer (preferably one). History has shown that the rules need to change for oligpolies and monopolies or very bad things happen. These "very bad things" take on the general form of low quality goods and/or high prices.

In the case of multimedia, are you going to seriously pretend that that you don't see how having an oligopoly controlling the media is a bad thing? Here's an outline: First, a story threatens to upset the Status Quo and/or expose wrongdoing by the rich and powerful. Word of it percolates up, and in one conference call between the good 'ole boys club they make sure your story never gets any real press.

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

kmweber (196563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567337)

this is about five or fewer corporations controlling the vast majority of media in the entire United States who want to make it four or fewer (preferably one).
So? The owners of big companies are people too, and have the same rights as everyone else.

History has shown that the rules need to change for oligpolies and monopolies or very bad things happen.
This justifies government violating individual rights how?

These "very bad things" take on the general form of low quality goods and/or high prices.
It's not government's job to do anything about that.

In the case of multimedia, are you going to seriously pretend that that you don't see how having an oligopoly controlling the media is a bad thing?
I don't see how it's worse than the violation of individual rights that is being proposed to prevent it.

When formulating policy, individual liberty is the ONLY relevant concern. Nothing else matters.

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568073)

If the government should never regulate business, why is the period of American history from 1870 to 1910 not regarded as a golden age of wonders? Ya see, if we're going to live together in societies of hundreds of millions of people, we're going to have to make some compromises to prevent the assholes from causing too much misery.

I should be able to shoot you if I feel like it; The government saying otherwise is restricting my liberty to do as I want.

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567701)

Don't pretend that this is about Joe Business Owner selling the company he built at a healthy profit, this is about five or fewer corporations controlling the vast majority of media in the entire United States who want to make it four or fewer (preferably one).

Where exactly does "Joe Business Owner" stop being such?

I would grant you, that one is too few, but I see no reason, why anything other than the usual anti-trust/anti-monopoly rules should apply. Five, four, and even three is still perfectly healthy, and even two may be Ok. When FTC blocked the Office Depot/Staples merger, it was a questionable move.

But five reducing themselves to four is perfectly fine...

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568233)

I'd say that many aspects of a media oligopoly are essentially impossible to police; Given a very small number of CEOs, they'll very likely reach an agreement (implicitly or explicitly) to protect mutual interests and the status quo (think of how all the news channels seem to have determined that Hillary is the winner). By keeping the number up, the probability of a majority or supermajority working together is decreased and real competition is maintained.

We used to have hundreds of news and media corporations in the US.

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567041)

In order to defend the freedom of expression, which is somehow vaguely threatened by media consolidation

What media consolidation threatens is not freedom of expression, it's variety of expression, and you're going to be hard-pressed to convince anyone that it's good for a democratic society to reduce the number of different viewpoints that are available. Since an unfettered media market will always tend toward consolidation, and media consolidation harms society by reducing the exchange of ideas, it's in society's interest to regulate the market to prevent consolidation.

Yes, it's also good for society when people can do business as they see fit, within reason. Talking about the "freedom of business-owners to sell their businesses to whomever they want to" as if it's as important as freedom of speech is silly; there have been quite a number of precedents establishing that business "freedoms" can be restricted far more thoroughly and easily than personal freedoms. Markets work best when unfettered, but they serve society best when they're regulated by the will of the people. History and studies have shown that different kinds of markets serve us best when regulated in different ways; certain markets can go almost completely unregulated without harming society; others need to be heavily regulated in order to best serve us.

Don't get caught in the trap of thinking that all markets should be completely (or even equally) unfettered. The electricity market, for example, behaves radically differently than the computer hardware market.

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

kmweber (196563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567409)

it's in society's interest to regulate the market to prevent consolidation.
It is not government's job to act in "society's interest." Government's job is to protect individual rights. This proposed action would do the exact opposite.

Yes, it's also good for society when people can do business as they see fit, within reason.
The interests of society are irrelevant; only individual liberty matters.

Talking about the "freedom of business-owners to sell their businesses to whomever they want to" as if it's as important as freedom of speech is silly;
No, it's not. All liberty is equally sacred and equally important AS AN END IN ITSELF.

there have been quite a number of precedents establishing that business "freedoms" can be restricted far more thoroughly and easily than personal freedoms
Those precedents are wrong.

Markets work best when unfettered, but they serve society best when they're regulated by the will of the people.
That is not a relevant concern when deciding on government policy.

The thing is, you incorrectly view liberty as only a means to an end. It's not. The individual, and therefore his liberty, is an end in itself, and trumps all other concerns.

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567779)

What media consolidation threatens is not freedom of expression, it's variety of expression, and you're going to be hard-pressed to convince anyone that it's good for a democratic society to reduce the number of different viewpoints that are available.

It is devastatingly bad for a free society to dictate to people, when and how they can sell their property. If you value the "variety of expression", go ahead and publish your own. And if you can not or would not, keep away from what somebody else ownsit is not yours.

Even if the various blogs and Internet-accessible foreign private and state-owned sources of expression were not available, that is...

there have been quite a number of precedents establishing that business "freedoms" can be restricted far more thoroughly and easily than personal freedoms

Yes, unfortunately, there have been. Their number, however, is simply an illustration of how powerless the businessmen are in a society, where everyone has an equal vote. The State is supposed to uphold individual's rights, however unpopular, but politicians are influenced by the majority of the voters (which is why businesses have to resort to the infamous lobbying). A Democracy, it is said, is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner. See also "Atlas Shrugged" [ebay.com] .

Re:Limiting freedom... (1)

GalacticLordXenu (1195057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567895)

Strange, though, that if it's so undesirable, people are patronizing big businesses and allow them to be big on virtue of the fact that they are choosing them. What we need is customer education, not more training wheels for the masses. The truth is, I think, is that you have your own biases and opinions you don't see echoed in the mass media; you think the best way to serve your agenda is by tearing down the big guy. Maybe that works; I feel the same way, but at the end of the day it's simply the selfish desire to control. You talk about the "will of the people", but there is no "will of the people". Hell, when someone says "will of the people" my ears perk up because almost always I sure as hell aren't agreeing with whatever they're trying to sell with that rhetoric. Slavery was once the will of the people, as was the subjugation of women; in some parts of the world, that's still true. If you want enlightenment and freedom, taking away certain freedoms from others, as if you were some sort of mastermind tinkering with knobs and levers to make the "best possible society" (a value-laden personal opinion on how the world should work) neither works nor is often fair. Businesses are there to serve us insofar that we agree to whatever we're selling, and we serve businesses by patronizing them and giving the owners wealth. Even if you, technically, could get a better deal through wild machinations, in the end you're doing what big business often does with government--manipulating the rules to benefit you over another entity, or at least widen a perceived gap. This may come as a shock, but businesses are not established "for the public good". Despite what most relatively-wealthy individuals cozy in their first-world homes might think or wish, people in general do prefer to look out for themselves before looking out for someone they don't even know, and might not even like. And many of us aren't keen on putting others lives ahead of the hordes' based on some principle that is very open towards crushing some to benefit "the greater good".

Re:Limiting freedom... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567063)

It saddens me that people don't understand that dynamic. In a functioning educational system, your comment would be yawn worthy. Instead, it's +5 insightful because you and most slashdot readers have no understanding of basic economic theory (economies of scale), monopoly power, or how major corporations simultaneously fight with and support government regulation.

Monopoly power and lack of information are very real factors in modern society. Whether you look at research of publication diversity or economic research about information scarcity and how it impacts prices and decisions, the impact is quite clear. So take your pick: social scientists? economists? They will often agree on the impacts of limited information on decision making.

Re:Limiting freedom... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567677)

Fuck Libertarians.

I attended the Seattle Town Hall meeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566601)

I was surprised that the crowd didn't rip Martin to pieces. I've never seen such unanimous hostility or disgust from nearly 1000 individuals before. People do not want media consolidation!

Re:I attended the Seattle Town Hall meeting (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566925)

I was surprised that the crowd didn't rip Martin to pieces.

Maybe if citizens were allowed to rip misguided public officials to pieces when they err, there'd be a lot less erring on the part of said officials.

Toss the cross-ownership rule (1)

Percy_Blakeney (542178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566657)

Let's be honest about the situation: no matter WHAT rules are eventually enacted, they will be challenged in court. Once it is in court, there is a significant chance that the entire newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule will simply be invalidated. Why? Because a very similar rule, the cable-broadcast cross-ownership rule, was tossed out in 2002 by the DC Circuit Court because it was arbitrary and capricious.

Personally, I could care less if a local newspaper owns a radio or TV station; I care more about media concentration than formats. Which is more troubling, ClearChannel owning half the local radio stations (and another billion across the country), or a local newspaper owning a single "oldies" FM radio station? In my opinion, they should assign different weights to the different kinds of media, and then say that you can own whatever you like up to the weight cap.

Re:Toss the cross-ownership rule (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567175)

Dood, I don't mean to burst your balloon or anything, but given the truly bizarre judicial decisions handed down over the preceding 7 years, at the federal district court level and the SCOTUS (Supreme A**hole Court)level, it is highly unlikely a challenge will hold up in court. What ammo do you use, BTW? With regard to assault rifles, I recommend Rugers for reliability.....

Does anybody have the article text? (1)

markjhood2003 (779923) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566683)

I don't really mind seeing ads to read Salon content, but the site is no longer allowing client machines that block ad.doubleclick.net to view anything. Tolerating ads is one thing, but I'll be damned if I'll allow doubleclick to track me all over the freakin' web just to see Salon's stuff.

Seattle's reaction to Martin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566747)

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin at the Seattle FCC media ownership hearing, 9 Nov 2007.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6_CUTRG2M_c [youtube.com]

How do you know if he is democratic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21566781)

He is referred to here as the 'Democratic commissioner'.

How do you know if he is democratic?

We should all be paying as close attention as (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567379)

We should all be paying as close attention as these people.

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/68295/ [alternet.org]

And be making as much noise.

For CEOs not Companies (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21567663)

There is a substantial body of evidence saying that mergers hurt : employees, customers, and stock holders. Only the executives normally benefit. because they become executives of a larger corporation.

Only solution is personal education and vigilance (1)

GalacticLordXenu (1195057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568063)

Splitting up media companies or preventing them from getting bigger isn't going to change anything. The other companies will, probably, be much the same, following the same time-proven formula used by the current media giants.

Ignoring the possibility of government machinations aside (I cannot think of any), big media became big media because People Paid Attention. And they still do. Maybe they're doing so less, with the advent of the internet, but we still have the big 5 or whatever the number is.

The "Big Media" from outside the world is outside of our control, yet we can still access it and if, we so cared, can get information from it and the government can't do a damn thing to stop it, no matter how big it gets.

What if a media company based itself outside of the USA, but operated on a global level, reporting the minute details of U.S. news much like CNN or MSNBC or other media conglomerates do? Should we block citizens from accessing their website or TV station, if they had one?

Turning knobs and hitting levers to try to make some sort of utopia where we play with other peoples' stuff to get what we want is never good or "fair" and often has unintended consequences. If people continue to watch CNN or FOX, it's their human failing.

I have news for you, people that talk about needing "diversity of opinion" to maintain a "healthy democracy" (whenever you lack a coherent, strong argument, always appeal to the fuzzy notion of a "healthy democracy"--apparently a buzzword for the person's own private little perfect world). Personally, I'd prefer an "unhealthy democracy" insofar that the giant massive will of Leviathan doesn't impose on me. Some of us would like to make deals and bargains on our own terms, even though this notion is disappearing in a time of "social responsibility".

I'd rather the world not be one big chain gang but instead composed of people more intent on using their wits and relying on their own brains rather than be given a state-subsidized set of training wheels to go about through life on. To do that, you need real education, motivation (and remember, you can lead a horse to water but can't make him drink--how many people have YOU tried to get into politics but refuse to care, instead deciding that America Idol is a far more interesting and relevant thing to spend their neural resources on?) and unfortunately, quite possibly an innate intelligence above that which is median.

Which is it Slashdot? (1)

Bartles (1198017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21568143)

"FCC Chairman Tries for More Media Consolidation" Or "FCC Commissioner Stumps for More Media Diversity" So is Kevin Martin a chairman or a commissioner? More seriously, which Slashdot article should I disregard, and which should I take with a small grain of salt?
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