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May 13, 2003

Big Media Trouble

Wow, it's a banner day for bad news about the U.S. media. The FCC has released its plans to deregulate the television industry:

The proposed changes represent the most important rewriting of the ownership rules in decades, permitting the largest media conglomerates to expand into new markets and own more properties in a single city. Analysts expect companies, including Viacom and the News Corporation , to seek to expand their media holdings substantially.

According to The Washington Post:

Two things are certain: On June 2, the five-member FCC will adopt most of the media-ownership recommendations delivered by staffers yesterday. Also, a wave of media deals -- and probably lawsuits -- will follow, as companies jockey to exploit the new rules or seek relief from them.

So what does that mean for you? It means that TV is going to become just like radio. The FCC relaxed radio station ownership limits in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and a wave of buyouts and mergers followed. Today, most major radio markets are controlled by a handful of companies, and the biggest and baddest is Clear Channel. Why does it matter that one company owns so many radio stations? Well, for one thing, that kind of "freedom of the press" buys you rallies for war. There are more problems, w/massively concentrated media ownership (see, for example, Salon's full coverage of Clear Channel and read anything by Robert McChesney), but really, could it get much worse?

If you agree that allowing one company to control TV markets nationwide is not a good thing, sign the petitions at and

UPDATE: For still more information on media reform, also read the last few posts Larry Lessig made in April, as well as just about everything since then.

Posted May 13, 2003 02:07 PM | general politics

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