June 10, 2003
Lampooning the FCC and Clear Channel

JD Lasica on Clear Channel acquiring the FCC.... It's hilarious. (I'm assuming you already know about last Monday's vote outcome.) But he also points to the Macomb Daily story on the FCC (which bIPlog also reported):

Big Media Got FCC Rule Change Old-Fashioned Way. For a government agency that ensures Americans have an array of media voices from which to choose, the Federal Communications Commission sure has spent a lot of time listening to a small circle of pals, says columnist Chad Selweski.

Media giants spent $2.8 million wining and dining the FCC over the past eight years, paying for travel and luxury accommodations, and even chauffeurs.

Maybe it's cynical, but the rules changes approved last week don't seem that different from the previous set when you consider how poor US distribution channels for independent thought and expression already were. Lessig's thought that the "Internet as Savior" is a dying concept is right, especially when you consider Barry Dillers' thoughts (from D as summarized by Denise Howell) about it:

Audience Questions
Audience member, to Diller: You've been outspoken about media concentration. [More.] What's the impact going to be if control gets tighter?
Diller: You're referring to the FCC's June 2 rulemaking, and loosening restrictions on cross-ownership. The issue is not about consolidation, it's this: there are 5 entities that control 90% of what you see and here. What we need is sensible, wise regulation that will make it so you can still hear independent voices. It's not about size, but when you have size you have to have careful oversight and regulation or you get in trouble. If these entities control the broadband types as well, they'll sit on the tollbridge. The size issue can't be met by just tossing everything out.

In other words, the distribution channel is the key. Unfortunately, this view of the Internet as Savior seems more prevalent outside the blogosphere, amongst the general public and in the big media, which still uses this metaphor a lot even though the situations they describe are often much more complicated.

Posted by Mary Hodder at June 10, 2003 10:23 AM | TrackBack
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