"I believe in my bones that few priorities our country confronts have such long-term effect on our democracy as how America communicates and converses with itself and how this process has deteriorated."
-FCC Commissioner Michael Copps -
"Over the years, basically all of the responsibilities that were asked of media owners have been diminished. There's virtually nothing left. And now, their only job is to make as much money as possible in any way they can."
-Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)-
My mother and I both graduated college with degrees in political science. This past weekend, we talked about the thesis she wrote back in 1974. It focused on media consolidation and ownership, and suggested the use of media outlets by large congolmerates to control how information was dispersed (and what information was dispersed). In effect, the media became cheerleader to the group by whom it was financed. "Today, with the Internet and citizen journalism it doesn't seem like it would be as large an issue," she said.
But it still is. Consider that one-third of America's independently owned television stations have disappeared since 1975. Today, five corporations own all the broadcast networks; 90 percent of the top-50 cable TV networks now produce three-quarters of all prime-time programming. That's what FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a leading advocate for the reform of U.S. media ownership laws wants Americans to know. Adelstein is visiting Vermont this week, at the invitation of Senator Bernie Sanders, to hear what Vermonters have to say about the effects of media consolidation on their communities and on the democratic process.
You can read more about Adelstein in the Seven Days article. You can also check out Michael Shudson's (CJR) review of "Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media" by Eric Klinenberg , a book that examines media concentration.