Monday, October 22, 2007

Murdoch's Ministry of Information

by Capt Fogg

What if one company owned the daily newspapers, the weekly “alternative” newspaper, the city magazine, suburban publications, the eight largest radio stations, the dominant broadcast and cable television stations, popular internet news and calendar sites, billboards and concert halls in your city -- in your country, asks John Nichols, blogger at The Nation? Is there anyone but Rupert Murdoch who thinks the public interest is served or rational democracy enabled by allowing such a thing to happen?

Yes, there is; he's FCC Chairman and Smirkmeister Kevin Martin, a product of an administration that would like to hand everything from the airwaves to the air itself over to the highest bidder, if not the highest contributor. The New York Times tells us the plan is for sweeping deregulation that would finally put to rest the idea that an information monopoly is a bad thing and that the broadcast spectrum is a natural resource, access to which requires an obligation for public service. Let the biggest dog have the only bark in town as long as they support the Republican Corporatocracy!

There seem to be no plans for the customary public hearings and we may be handed the dismemberment of yet another important public protection by December of this year. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is already the largest media empire in the world. It's only the beginning.

Under the Bush administration, the function of the venerable agency has become to apportion public resources amongst media moguls without any regard for public interest. They have, as a matter of policy, routinely refused to protect licensed spectrum users against encroachments from large corporations and has been accused by the GAO of collaborating with corporate lobbyists; using secret meetings to pass them the information they need to avoid congressional actions and others have accused them not only of stifling entrepreneurship but of stifling minority ownership of radio broadcast licenses.

The idea of a free and open internet where bloggers can at least offer opposing viewpoints and cover items deemed unworthy by Murdoch or Clear Channel may soon die a similar death. Can anything resembling democracy fare any better?

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Brilliant Fogg. I just left a comment on the crosspost at The Reaction. This is exactly the post I've been wanting to do for a while but couldn't organize my thoughts around.

Really well said.

10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

As a radio Amateur, the FCC has been a constant source of irritation and frustration.

But I see it as a direct, deliberate assault on freedom. Even if it may still be possible to ferret out their misdeeds, it can be impossible to get the news to enough people to matter.

11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

These results suggest that diversity in ownership leads to diversity in programming content ... But policymakers may have forgotten the reason behind ownership rules and limits on consolidation: Increasing diversity and localism in ownership will produce more diverse speech, more choice for listeners, and more owners who are responsive to their local communities.

This is exactly what media conglomerates (and their lobbyists and supporters in Washington) don't want. Also, consider this quote from Noam Chomsky:

The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.

In addition, I recommend Naomi Kaplan’s The Shock Doctrine to put this issue into greater perspective.

12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Such techniques as buying up frequency allocations for community low power broadcasting in order to prevent anyone from using them, is one of a large grab bag of things the FCC is allowing in order to further the interests and profits of the corporatocracy.

Diversity other than an artificial adversary to be scapegoated, is anathema.

Meanwhile policemen, firemen, paramedics and hospitals can't talk to each other on the radio because it's all been privatized and the FCC's real mission is to make that as easy as possible.

1:40:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

Captain Fogg, this may seem like an arcane subject for many Americans, but considering the far-reaching consequences of freedom of information (or lack thereof) on American democracy, perhaps a netroots focus (including letters to legistlators) may be in order. I would be more than willing to participate in this effort.

7:02:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I write these bozos until my hands get sore, but all I ever get is a form letter about some irrelevant subject.

I encourage everyone to write, but I don't know how to go about anything organized - being a disorganized person, to say the least.

8:30:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

Captain, some thoughts to share:

1. Compile addresses of FCC members plus Congressional oversight committee members;

2. Create a post here including all addresses;

3. Contact all our blogging friends and ask for netroots support (Echidne, Majikthise, Ogged at Unfogged, and Bean at Lawyers, Guns, and Money are friends with whom I have frequent e-mail contact). Ask TPM and Media Matters to post a story.

In your opinion, would this be worthwhile investment in time of maybe one day each?

11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Time is something I don't have much of for the next two weeks.

9:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Captain, let me know if you want to pursue this. I would be glad to assist.

2:30:00 PM  

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