Senate Tries To Roll Back FCC Ownership Rules; Apparently Still Hasn't Heard Of The Internet

from the media-options dept

Late last year, the FCC decided to relax media ownership rules in a really minor way. Basically, with the FCC ruling, a newspaper could purchase an also-ran TV station. It could only buy a station that wasn't in the top 4 in the market. Yet, this got people up in arms over some nefarious "media consolidation" claims. Yet, these claims make no sense. There are more media outlets than ever before in history, and there are more ways and more sources to get your news from than ever before in history. Yes, many of them are online, but that doesn't change the fact that they exist. But apparently, the Senate is unaware of that. It has started a process to invalidate the FCC's changes, claiming that it's "not healthy for this country" to only have a few major media outlets. That might be a point worth debating if it were true, but it's not. Meanwhile, no one's explained what's so problematic about a newspaper company owning a TV station at the same time. Considering that it only applies to 5th ranked or beyond TV stations, it's not as if it will somehow block out the voices from other stations.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Adam, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 8:54am

    clearly...

    the senate is filled with dinosaurs...

     

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  2.  
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    Wes, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 8:56am

    I don't know

    I think media is better with as many sources pouring over the data as possible.

    Decentralized vs. Centralized media (much like BT, should allow for more choice and better options for the consumer)

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 8:58am

    I hope I am not the only one who read this as..

    Senate Tries To Rick Roll FCC Ownership Rules; Apparently Still Hasn't Heard Of The Internet

     

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  4.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:08am

    No Excuse

    Sorry, Mike, but the existence of the Internet is no excuse for me to have to suffer through twenty stations of Clear Channel crap on my radio dial.

     

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  5.  
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    José Luis, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:12am

    Yes and No...

    I agree with the fact that there are today a lot of media outlets than ever before (and that a lot of those are more or less independent), so laws like these should disappear (we use to have one in my country).

    However, i think that in the interest of democracy (in every country) this should be pushed in time for 10 years (at least). The fact is that a large part of the population does not use the internet. The net is still not as widespread in use as we (regular and avid users) like to thing. Keeping in place some limits to enhance chances of non-internet users seems like a good thing to me (at present time).

     

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  6.  
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    comboman, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:14am

    It's a good thing...

    It's a good thing that the FCC haven't heard of the internet, they might try to regulate it.

     

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  7.  
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    Joel Coehoorn, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    5th ranked isn't relevant

    '5th ranked or beyond' is meaningless. What's to stop a newspaper from buying a low-rated station and then updating the station's content to be a much better contender?

    That said, you're right that the internet makes the old rule at least somewhat obsolete.

     

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  8.  
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    anonymous, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    mike, get a clue. the MAJOR sources of news and information to MOST of the US is controlled by a handful of conglomerates.
    whether or not you LIKE it, the internet is not the end-all-beat-all of competition. get your head out of the internet-koolaid and quit glorifying what is to date a MINOR source of news and information. i WISH it were true that the internet was just as relevant as the over the air sources, but it just is not. people in the US just don't have the desire to do any WORK to get alternate points of view, they would rather just sit on thier ever-expanding asses on their overstuffed couches and just push the remote control over to the next mindless entertainment show.

     

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  9.  
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    r. decline, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:36am

    media access

    so i'm allowed to use the internet and become one of a zillion blogs or podcasts..but i have to put up with several companies owning most other media outlets? BS. not to mention most people do not get immediate news on their area from the internet. they get it from tv and radio. when we had a tornado hit the area you could immediately tell which stations were piped in pre-programed stations...they were the ones showing cartoons or playing led zeppelin instead of shelter locations/closed streets/further storm warnings.
    then there is a speech issue of course, as in, a large company is allowed a station broadcast to spill out whatever messages it wants but i'm not allowed to but i've been thrown the internet bone so its ok? well as the slogans go..
    MICRO-POWER TO THE PEOPLE
    TAKE BACK YOUR AIRWAVES
    RADIO IS MY BOMB

     

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  10.  
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    Edward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:44am

    I usually agree with your articles (around 75-80% of the time), but I strongly disagree with this one.

    The monopolization of media, much like the centralization and increased bureaucratization of the central government or the decreasing of civil liberties, always comes in the form of relatively minor but consistent incremental changes.

    So while the FCC rule, according to your black and white portrayal that is not very accurate (yes, IAAL) permits a newspaper to "buy a station that wasn't in the top 4 in the market," I would point to the recent trends of said subject matter and predict it would not take long before the rule is evicerated completely. Also, just FYI, according to this rule, it is very possible that the sole newspaper in a small town also owns the sole television news affiliate/subsidiary (keep in mind that because this is a small town, neither outlet is top 4 in the broader "market").


    "[N]o one's explained what's so problematic about a newspaper company owning a TV station at the same time."

    I don't have the time to go over the reasons, but if you're genuinely interested in finding an answer, you can begin your research by looking at the "free" media in Russia.

    A true problem, as hinted above, is also present when a population/town/whatever only receives news from one outlet. While the internet might be useful, the people who probably need access to it most do not even know how to turn on a computer.

     

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  11.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:49am

    Re:

    mike, get a clue. the MAJOR sources of news and information to MOST of the US is controlled by a handful of conglomerates.

    Actually, that appears to RAPIDLY becoming not the case:

    http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=282

    Look how fast local TV and local newspapers are dropping as a major source of news.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:56am

    Re: No Excuse

    SECONDED!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Re: I don't know


    Decentralized vs. Centralized media (much like BT, should allow for more choice and better options for the consumer)


    Great, just what I want. Now I can get all my Britney gossip from many viewpoints instead of just one.

     

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  14.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Who Shepherds The Flock?

    Let's say, hypothetically, that some people are sheep, and some people make up their own opinions. Which group of people do you think more likely to be tuning into radio and TV, and which group is more likely to log in to the net?

    Of course, these distinctions are not absolute, but I think we have are more 'ignant' and controllable citizens mostly creating their views as they watch the 'great' content presented to them by mainstream media.

    Rupert and Clear Channel have far too great an influence on those that can be influenced. In a winner-take-all electoral system, shifting a few easily manipulated swing votes makes the difference between winning and losing executive power. That means that media control can quickly mean policy control.

    A few voices of reason in the blogoshpere, mixed with a million other voices and wackos, does not level the playing field.

     

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  15.  
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    BTR1701, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 10:30am

    Rankings

    > Considering that it only applies to 5th ranked
    > or beyond TV stations, it's not as if it will
    > somehow block out the voices from other stations.

    I wonder what happens if a newspaper buys a TV station that's ranked 6th in the market when they make the purchase but after a year or so, moves up in market share to the point where it's now 4th or 3rd?

     

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  16.  
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    BTR1701, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Re: Internet

    > people in the US just don't have the desire
    > to do any WORK to get alternate points of view

    That's their choice and if that's what they choose, that's on them. Their laziness certainly isn't a justification for ever more government intrusion into the private sphere.

     

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  17.  
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    Jobeesh, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    Not true

    yes, the internet exists but the consolidation of media world wide is a serious issue. While there are more an more new avenues they are almost exclusively owned by right wing enormous media corporations that are, some more than others, pushing an agenda that keeps people watching their stations. So, yes, you can get your news on the internet, but to say that the proliferation of media conglomerates is not a problem is naive.

     

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  18.  
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    Tammer Raouf, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    WHAT ABOUT RUPERT MURDOCH?! How can the Senate be that selective when talking about conflicts of interest?

     

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  19.  
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    oregonnerd, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    senate and reality

    I suppose they have to do something to justify their existence. Make that, try to justify their existence. I hear next week they'll be talking about how to protect us from ourselves!!
    --Glenn

     

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  20.  
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    AMusingFool (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 2:11pm

    plenty of reliable sources?

    Hmm... If there are plenty of sources of information, why did 2/3 (it might have even been 3/4; I forget) of the US population believe that Sadam Hussein was personally involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks when we attacked Iraq? Why did 1/3 of the US still believe that two years later? There were plenty of people saying it wasn't true online. In the mass media? Not so much.

    We still need those ownership rules. Hopefully not for too much longer, but for now, we definitely do.

     

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  21.  
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    Duane (profile), Apr 28th, 2008 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Couldn't agree with you more if I put it on a t-shirt

    To put it simply, more views on the news is always a better condition than less.

    What's happened to radio is a crying shame, and it's exactly this sort of program that has caused it to happen. Just imagine if your local news were delivered by someone in Miami or your local coverage went away because it's not cost-effective. That's what happened with radio.

    Also, consider the hidden "synergies" that come into play here.
    If you advertise on Channel A, you get a slot on Channel A. If you advertise on Channel B, why they'll throw in a free radio spot on one of their stations. Boom, less revenue for Channel A. Eventually, Channel A goes under and now there's only one source for news in your town and they are beholden more to the bottom line than your city or town.

    I don't often support government interference, but in this instance, I do.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Ben, Apr 28th, 2008 @ 9:34pm

    Consolidation of TV news in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

    A bit of an anomaly exists here in northeastern Pennsylvania as a case study. The dominant news station, the ABC affiliate, has one of the highest Nielsen ratings in the country (based on audience percentage, not sheer number of eyeballs). Because of "duopoly" rules (the ability to own two stations in a market), the CBS and NBC stations could not compete and were purchased by the same media group. Both channels now share the same newsroom, and occasionally simulcast the same news program. The Fox station doesn't have a news department, so it contracts the ABC station to produce it's 10:00 news. The WB station is also owned by the same company as the Fox station, so they don't produce news. The My Network station in Williamsport, Pa. penetrates into this market, and is owned by the same company as the Fox and WB stations, resulting in an odd "triopoly". So all of the broadcast news is emanating from two newsrooms: one dominant, the other weak. Needless to say, there are few jobs in the television industry as a result.

    Say what you want, but without any caps, big media corporations keep hoarding the pie for themselves, which leaves the viewer stuck with no alternatives.

     

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