Media Myths: Making Sense of the Debate Over Media Ownership
|January 17 2011|
Are media companies in this country too big? How big is “too big”? Is the media diverse enough and competitive enough today? And what relationship, if any, does media size have to the health of our democracy? These are the questions Adam Thierer, Director of the Center for Digital Media Freedom at the Washington-based Progress & Freedom Foundation, explores in Media Myths: Making Sense of the Debate over Media Ownership.
He concludes that, contrary to what some media critics claim, to the extent there was ever a “Golden Age” of media in America, we are living in it today. The media sky has never been brighter and it is getting brighter with each passing year. Citizens have more media options today than ever before. Indeed, far from living in a world of “media monopoly” we now live in a world of media multiplicity.
Regarding claims that extensive media regulation benefits consumers, Thierer shows that such rules do little to encourage increased media diversity and competition. Indeed, more often than not, they thwart important new developments that could enhance media diversity and competition. Citizens will be better off without such regulations, Thierer argues, because their private actions and preferences will have a greater bearing in shaping media markets than arbitrary federal regulations.
No matter how large any given media outlet is today, it is ultimately just one of hundreds of sources of news, information, and entertainment that we have at our collective disposal. It is just one voice in our contemporary media cacophony, shouting to be heard above the others. Information and entertainment cannot be monopolized in a free society, especially in today’s world of media abundance.
PDF format, 1.1MB, 176Pages.
By: Adam D. Thierer
Today, by contrast, we are blessed to live in an Information Age, a world of unprecedented media availability and diversity in which citizens can access and consume whatever media they want, wherever, whenever, and however they want.
Despite this undeniable reality, life in the Information Age has its detractors. The funny thing about information and media is that the more you have, the more people find to complain about. This tendency was on full display when a debate about media power erupted in America in June 2003 following the release by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of revised regulations meant to govern media ownership structures and practices.
These complicated rules attempted to answer some difficult questions, namely:
Concluding that “Americans today have more media choices, more sources of news and information, and more varied entertainment programming available to them than ever before,” the FCC promulgated a wide-ranging, 258-page rulemaking reassessing the ownership rules that have governed television and radio broadcasters for many years.
Although the FCC’s order only moderately relaxed the existing regulations—and even retained or strengthened some of the rules under consideration—many groups and lawmakers mounted a vociferous campaign to overturn the revisions alleging that media ownership liberalization would result in more industry consolidation, less “diversity,” the “death of localism,” and a “threat to democracy.” ...
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