Monday, October 22, 2007

Murdoch's Ministry of Information

What if one company owned the daily newspapers, the weekly “alternative” newspaper, the city magazine, suburban publications, the eight largest radio stations, the dominant broadcast and cable television stations, popular internet news and calendar sites, billboards and concert halls in your city -- in your country, asks John Nichols, blogger at The Nation? Is there anyone but Rupert Murdoch who thinks the public interest is served or rational democracy enabled by allowing such a thing to happen?

Yes, there is; he's FCC Chairman and Smirkmeister Kevin Martin, a product of an administration that would like to hand everything from the airwaves to the air itself over to the highest bidder, if not the highest contributor. The New York times tells us the plan is for sweeping deregulation that would finally put to rest the idea that an information monopoly is a bad thing and that the broadcast spectrum is a natural resource, access to which requires an obligation for public service. Let the biggest dog have the only bark in town as long as they support the Republican Corporatocracy!

There seem to be no plans for the customary public hearings and we may be handed the dismemberment of yet another important public protection by December of this year. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is already the largest media empire in the world. It's only the beginning.

Under the Bush administration, the function of the venerable agency has become to apportion public resources amongst media moguls without any regard for public interest. They have, as a matter of policy, routinely refused to protect licensed spectrum users against encroachments from large corporations and has been accused by the GAO of collaborating with corporate lobbyists; using secret meetings to pass them the information they need to avoid congressional actions and others have accused them not only of stifling entrepreneurship but of stifling minority ownership of radio broadcast licenses.

The idea of a free and open internet where bloggers can at least offer opposing viewpoints and cover items deemed unworthy by Murdoch or Clear Channel may soon die a similar death. Can anything resembling democracy fare any better?

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