30 May 2003
Lenin called to borrow a bungee cord
Now this is choice. From The New York Times:
Opponents of media deregulation are running advertisements depicting the media mogul Rupert Murdoch as the scowling face of industry consolidation, including commercials being shown today on his company's Fox News Channel in New York.
The advocacy groups behind the ads, MoveOn.org, Common Cause, and Free Press, said they were focusing attention on the well-known face of Mr. Murdoch in an effort to stir public opposition to deregulation. At a meeting next Monday, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to relax ownership restrictions, including limits on local television stations and newspapers.
Deb the Insomnomaniac finds this utterly risible:
Ads accusing Rupert Murdoch of engaging in a sinister plot to ruthlessly control (and by definition I suppose, twist) what you read, see and hear in the news are being run on a network owned by Mr. Murdoch.
Well folks, either the man has multiple personality disorder, or he's into S&M, because allowing your supposed "secret" to get out on your own network seems a bit counter-productive, don't you think?
The sudden flurry of press attention to next Monday's Federal Communications Commission announcement mystifies me; I mean, it's not like FCC chair Michael Powell has been keeping things under wraps for the benefit of Big Media all this time. I tend to look askance at the expected changes, but I'm not about to claim that it's all a plot by the Axis of Greedy either. Posted at 2:00 PM to Political Science Fiction
Oh, just wait. Murdoch and his Clear Channel henchmen will be stationing goons in every home in America, to make sure every TV and radio is tuned exactly where it belongs.
Any attempt to tune the TV to CNN or the radio to a locally owned alternative playlist station will be dealt with by the judicious and plentiful application of cattle prods.
Just you wait. I know it's true 'cause I saw it on ... er ... Fox News Channel...
So is allowing the commercials to air proof that nothing sinister is afoot, or is it simply acknowledgment that even if there were there would be nothing that public opinion would be able to do about it?
There have been people pushing to make this a more public event for months, most notable Michael Copps at the FCC adn Moyers on PBS. The national media are just tuning in to show a nice slo-mo shot of the ball rolling past the goalie into the goal. They're reporting history, not news.
I've seen Moyers' take on this; he makes it sound a bit more conspiratorial than I think it is, but he got the basics right.
I find Big Media's plaint that they need ever-larger audiences to compete rather unpersuasive: boiled down to the essentials, it's basically another example of corporations trying to get the government to prop up a decaying business model. Still, this year's changes are likely to be fairly minimal; if any damage was done, and I think there's a case that there was, it was done with the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
And about the time Murdoch's minions were planning the Fox News Channel, word came down from the broadcast network strongly encouraging Fox affiliates who didn't already have one to start a local newscast. The cynical side of me says "Yeah, they wanted a place to vend FNC video," but I'm quite certain KOKH-TV, our Fox affiliate in Oklahoma City, wouldn't have a full-fledged one-hour newscast today if the network hadn't jawboned them into it, and it's far less unwatchable than the 35-minute hypefests airing an hour later on the VHF channels.
I agree with your second paragraph. I always find it ironic when strict "free market" supporters end up on the side of an issue that accomplishes nothing more than keeping a dinosaur alive. I have a pretty firm belief that cars would be radically different (in some way) than they are now if not for the subsidies they recieve through things like highway grants and the like. Same goes for the airlines. Can we be honest and at least say that we "want" certain things and are willing to create a favorable environment for it, rather than chanting free market out the front door while we scoop money out the back for cars, planes and crops?
The real free-market types (as distinguished from your garden-variety plutocrats who spout it as a slogan because it plays well on TV) disdain subsidies altogether, and they argue that the net effect of government regulation is to provide benefits to a small number at the expense of everyone else. If the playing fields were truly level, a lot of the big players would recoil in horror and retreat from the marketplace.