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The Media United States

Ted Turner's Beef With Big Media 552

Posted by michael
from the whuh? dept.
pizen writes "Washington Monthly has an article from Ted Turner where he talks about the problems with the media conglomerates and calls for them to be busted: 'At this late stage, media companies have grown so large and powerful, and their dominance has become so detrimental to the survival of small, emerging companies, that there remains only one alternative: bust up the big conglomerates.'"
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Ted Turner's Beef With Big Media

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    • Big Media

      Isn't that redundant?
    • Re:Face It. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by saden1 (581102) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:56AM (#9779487)
      I have already won. I don't watch TV at all! I don't look to CNN to get my news or any of those stupid networks. I have the Internet. They are encroaching the internet, but the Internet is too big and has too many choices.
      • Re:Face It. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by joebok (457904) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:17AM (#9779730) Homepage Journal
        RTFA - one of Turner's points is that the independence of the Internet is illusionary - the large media companies own plenty of Internet news sources as well.

        From TFA: the "diversity-enhancing value of the Internet." The FCC is confusing diversity with variety. The top 20 Internet news sites are owned by the same media conglomerates that control the broadcast and cable networks. Sure, a hundred-person choir gives you a choice of voices, but they're all singing the same song.
      • by dpilot (134227) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:32AM (#9779893) Homepage Journal
        You haven't won. You've merely gotten out of the immediate battleground, and are ignoring the War.

        Part of TT's point is that Big Media is exerting too much control over the news. No matter how good someone may be at making decisions, feed them defective information and the 'perfectly made' decisions based on that information will be defective, too. For instance, your neighbors, your zoning board, voters, etc.
      • Re:Face It. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HalfStarted (639977)
        No, you haven't won... you are just ignoring the issue. Even though you do not rely on Big Media for your news and entertainment does not mean that Big Media does not impact your life. I am assuming that you will also claim that you do not read newspapers, magazines or listen to the radio but even this is still not enough. The US, contrary to what some would argue, is still a representative democracy and as such the decisions made by our government at the local, state and federal levels are strongly infl
      • You should tonight (Score:5, Interesting)

        by joggle (594025) on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:16AM (#9780390) Homepage Journal
        Charlie Rose is going to have a 1-hr interview with Ted Turner tonight [charlierose.com], hopefully this subject will come up during the course of the interview (11pm local time on PBS usually). You also might like to check out this book [amazon.com] written by a former exec at CNN--Bonnie Anderson (her interview [pbs.org] from the other night). This is what she had to say about abstaining from watching the news on TV:

        You know, I had one person tell me on a talk show, "You know, I just quit watching news," and I'm thinking, "That's really--that's a shame." Pick up the phone. E-mail, pick up the phone, call the network or call the news station and say, "I disagree." If only one person does it, it's not gonna make a difference. I pick up the phone constantly and call my local stations and say, "Why on earth did you just do that?" But if you do get a lot of people who are complaining, who say, "This is not the quality of news we need"--if it becomes a movement and if people realize that it's patriotic to speak out this way--this is true patriotism. Let's demand something that our Constitution protects for us. Let's demand it. And so pick up the phone, write letters, you know, write e-mails, and just say, "We want news that is far more directed towards everybody in this country and that's honest and truly fair."

        How about it? Let's slashdot bad news agencies!

    • Truner wanting to break up big media is simply a distraction from the real issue. That society can't survive the information age with copyrights in tact. Get rid of copyrights, and the other problems will solve themselves. But it is precicely that he wants to keep his cozy copyright monopolies that he is trying to force a breakup of the media conglomerates - the copyright system corrupts the industry so bad that he can't spawn innovation from within, so he's trying to get the government to force it from
  • "...bust up the big conglomerates"

    This coming from the same AOL - Time Warner?? Time Warner that owns Magazines, Cable Stations (and not just one mind you...)

    And THEN merged with AOL?

    Ok Ted....
    • by xeaxes (554292) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:30AM (#9779205)

      All of this you are speaking of happened after Ted Turner was bought out. He started the companies, but sold off most of them, including CNN. This was before the merger.

      He frequently talks about how much he regrets selling CNN because it is a shell of the channel it once was. He feels the channel is no longer balanced and is now more propaganda and fluff based (lots of entertainment news now) in order to keep up with Fox News.

      • by tomhudson (43916) < ... <nosduh.arabrab>> on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:55AM (#9779467) Journal
        So what's to stop him from starting up another one if the current one sucks so badly?

        If the "big media conglomerates" aren't offering people what they want because they have to cater to the largest demographic (lowest common denominator) possible, it seems to me this creates more openings for the smaller fish, as the "big guys" can't afford to tackle and grow the niche markets.

        • by Steve525 (236741) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:35AM (#9779935)
          This is a perfect example of RTFA. In fact, the entire article was pretty much devoted to answering that question. The rules have changed, and the (now permitted) consolodation of media makes it impossible for a new player to break in. The current media conglomerates own everything from top to bottom. Any new player would have to rely on one of these conglomerates for something (programming, distribution, etc.). The conglomerates would swat or buy out their new competitor as soon as it showed any potential of being successful (if it ever got a chance to get that far).
    • T+3 minutes and we have our first RTFA.

      "In 1996, the FCC did away with numerical caps altogether and raised the audience-reach cap to 35 percent. This wasn't necessarily bad for Turner Broadcasting; we had already achieved scale. But seeing these rules changed was like watching someone knock down the ladder I had already climbed."

      This isn't surprising from TT, he's always been a whacky pseudoHippy.

    • I don't think you read the article. He says that for media companies to survive today, they need to own the whole chain - everything. In addition, he says he tried to do just that, but failed. It was his job. You run a company, you have to play by the rules or fail. Or quit. He says the rules need to be changed. Who else do you expect to speak out and be listened to?
    • No, it's coming from Ted Turner, who was bought out by Time Warner before TW merged with AOL. As far as I recall, Turner quit the board in frustration.

      I don't always agree with Ted, but I have to appreciate his forthrightness. He doesn't hesitate to say what's on his mind.
    • What he is saying is true, regardless of how odd a place he is coming from. AOL-TW is too large a business to be allowed to exist, along with companies like Disney that hold (what? ABC, some magazines, a newspaper or 2 maybe?).

      Competition brings 2 things: Better quality product at lower prices. We have believed this since Adam Smith convinced our Founding Fathers, now why don't we apply it to Big Business?
    • This coming from the same AOL - Time Warner??

      ehh, No.

      Ted Turner is a human being. AOL/Time Warner is a corporation.

      Ted Turner has a little more than 1% ownership of that corporation.

      If you had RTFAed, you would understand why he is saying this... if he wanted start another venture like CNN (which I am sure he does), it would be impossible to compete with the conglomerates as they have such an anticompetitive stranglehold on all forms of media.

    • It doesn't mean his points aren't valid. Just because someone is 'part of the system' doesn't mean they can't say something legit or insightful on an issue. To some degree because he has been in that world, he has more insight into it than most of us I imagine.

      He's actually criticizing himself to some degree too - I have to give him some credit there

      His remarks are applicable to lots of media, radio stations (something like 3 companies run 90% of the FM stations), the book publishing industry (small pre

  • Why bust? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cyberax (705495)
    Why not just change the law to make media companies to accommodate to customers needs?
    • Re:Why bust? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by palutke (58340) * on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:44AM (#9779361)
      Why not just change the law to make media companies to accommodate to customers needs?

      There's already a remedy for customers whose needs aren't being met . . . go someplace else. You don't have to watch CNN, or Fox News, or MSNBC, or others. Your choices will be more limited, but you DO have alternatives. The law will never be as effective as customer demand at compelling businesses to run effectively.

      Sadly, the media companies are as successful as they are because the services they provide are popular with the public. Personally, that fact appalls me, but it's the truth.
      • Re:Why bust? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Glock27 (446276) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:00AM (#9779530)
        There's already a remedy for customers whose needs aren't being met . . . go someplace else. You don't have to watch CNN, or Fox News, or MSNBC, or others. Your choices will be more limited, but you DO have alternatives.

        His entire point is that the number of alternatives is getting smaller - and also that all the large media companies have certain interests in common, which may distort their programming.

        It's hard to imagine how we'll have a well informed, critically thinking populace if everyone's opinions are manufactured by a few homogenous companies... The only bright spot is the Internet, assuming it doesn't get too watered down.

    • Re:Why bust? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by node 3 (115640)
      Why not just change the law to make media companies to accommodate to customers needs?

      A good start would be to enforce the laws (antitrust) that we already have. They aren't generally enforced by republicans (esp. the current lot), who adhere to the religious dogma that what's good for the corporation is good for America.

      Sure, sometimes that's true, but sometimes it most clearly (often painfully clearly) isn't.

      The only way someone could rationally support the idea that the concentration of power in the
    • Re:Why bust? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Cat_Byte (621676) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:54AM (#9779465) Journal
      Why not just change the law to make media companies to accommodate to customers needs?

      That sentence scares the hell out of me. You want laws put in place by politicians that dictate what we want? Every politician has an agenda and bias. I, for one, would never conceed to such a thing. They would pick something even more liberal or conservative than what we already have.

    • The error in regulation is the assumption that people as individuals can be served by one regulation. This is why central planning always fails.

      It is impossible for the planner to know all the details, to account for all the information and changes. By the time a planner has evaluated and adjusted their plan to match a change, there are already more changes.

      This is why ITT doesn't exist any more. Not because it was "regulated", but because it didn't serve its customers. It got too big and couldn't adapt t
  • strange (Score:3, Funny)

    by The_Real_Nire (786847) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:24AM (#9779127)
    I thought Ted Turner owned them all...
  • This is something I never thought I would hear Ted Turner say. I never thought I'd hear him stick up for the little guy. What interest of his does this serve?
    • He used to be the little guy in the media business - CNN was initially greeted with derision, but instead ended up creating a new market for 24-hour news channels.
    • Re:haha (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gfxguy (98788)
      I don't always agree with Ted, but I've got to give him credit for speaking his mind. I don't understand, though, why it would have to serve his interest, as opposed to the greater good, for him to speak out. Are you that cynical of wealthy people?

      • Wasn't Turner the guy who tried to give billion dollars to the UN? Then pretty much gave the finger to guys like Bill Gates, telling them that they should use their money for something usefull.

        Wonder if the Gates foundation would exist today if it wasn't for Turner...

  • ...eh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by hekk (471747) *
    Keep in mind, this is Ted Turner, the crazy Southren billionare we're talking about here. This guy IS the media!

    A quick snippet from his company's website, http://www.turner.com ,

    Many are familiar with TBS, Inc.'s groundbreaking network, CNN, one of the world's most respected and trusted sources for news and information. Since its launch more than 20 years ago, CNN's reach has extended to 15 cable and satellite television networks; two private, place-based networks; two radio networks; 12 Web sites; CNN
  • Umm.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by jlleblanc (582587)
    Pot? Kettle? Black?

    Ted Turner is still just irritated that HIS media conglomerate was hijacked by AOL in the bubble years.

    -Joe
  • Ted Turner spent billions of dollars to buy the rights of a bunch of classic movies, which he then went and colourized. He owns at least three stations that I can think of (I don't watch a lot of TV, so there may be more)--TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies.

    This man is in no position to talk about big media. This is like Bill Gates bemoaning monopolistic business practices in the software industry.
    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:37AM (#9779291) Homepage Journal
      This is like Bill Gates bemoaning monopolistic business practices in the software industry.

      NO This is like Bill Gates saying "Microsoft should be broken up to prevent it's detrimental impact on the software market that sifles small business growth." I, for one, would stand up and cheer if Bill Gates said that, but we all know he's not man enough to do the right thing.

      PLEASE, let's not pummel this guy for a) doing the right thing b) doing it in a way that will hurt his interestes and c) for his move toward colorizing movies almost 20 YEARS ago [reelclassics.com]
      • Ted Turner is a giant liberal who has many enemies. Half the people saying bad things about him have this as a motivation, which is something useful to remember. It can turn this thread from one of aggravation into one of amusement.
    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Informative)

      by kzinti (9651) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:47AM (#9779383) Homepage Journal
      He owns at least three stations that I can think of... TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies.

      No, those networks are owned by Time-Warner. Go to tbssuperstation.com, www.tnt.tv, or turnerclassicmovies.com, and at the bottom you'll see the text "A Time Warner Company."
    • This man is in no position to talk about big media. This is like Bill Gates bemoaning monopolistic business practices in the software industry.

      RTFA

      He admits he's big. The current lax regulation does not hurt him much. He talks about how, after deregulation, he tried to buy up the whole market. Yet, at the same time, he complained about the government not doing their job.

      What he is complaining about is that the current deregulated climate does not encourage new stations, nor does it encourage s

    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by halo8 (445515)
      I dont know the answers to these questions but i suspect you are wrong IDT

      Q: how many newspapers dose Ted Turner own?
      Q: how many radio stations?
      Q: how many tv stations?
      Q: how many ppl are his market areas?

      Q: now.. now about rupert murdoc? clear channel? Caldwell black?
    • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Peridriga (308995)
      Well, all the Turner companies are owned by AOLTW(Now just Time Warner) but, that isn't even close to what Turner Broadcasting Owns

      TBS Superstation
      Turner Network Television
      Cartoon Network
      Turner Classic Movies
      Turner South
      Boomerang
      TNT HD
      CNN Studentnews.com
      TCM Europe
      Cartoon Network Europe
      TNT Latin America
      Cartoon Network Latin America
      TCM & Cartoon Network Asia Pacific
      Atlanta Braves
      CNN/U.S.
      CNN Headline News
      CNN International
      CNNfn
      CNN en Español
      CNN Airport Network
      CNNRadio
      CNN Newsource
      CNN.com
      CNNMoney.com
      C
    • You got that completely backwards. He's in the *perfect* position to talk about big media. He's telling us that he's done what has to be done to succeed in the media biz, and that what has to be done is detrimental to the rest of us.

      Evil usually tries to get you to think it's good (Microsoft, for example). When it tells you just how evil it is, pay attention.
  • by Zorilla (791636) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:28AM (#9779187)
    ...that Ted Turner sees this whole conglomerate issue too much in black and white.
  • Oh yeah somelike this [imdb.com] you mean?????

  • He's right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BCW2 (168187) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:29AM (#9779195) Journal
    In todays's megacorp world could you imagine starting something like CNN. It was much simpler 25 years ago when Turner did it. Disney, Viacom, AOLTW, Murdoch, it is very hard for a newcomer to break in now. The last newcomer was Fox and thats been over ten years ago. I don't think they would have made it without Murdochs newspaper empire to back them up till they got a foothold.
    • I don't think they would have made it without Murdochs newspaper empire to back them up till they got a foothold.

      Even with that backing, I wonder if they would've made it without 9-11 to give them an irrational audience to play to.

      • FoxNews had built up a large viewing audience before 9-11. FoxNews was beginning to edge out CNN in some timeslots back in 2000 around the Presidential elections. They weren't as popular as they are today but FoxNews had already "made it" long before 9-11.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It was really easy to start an automobile-making company about a century or so ago, too. Today, it's almost impossible. Yet no one's going about screaming for the breakup of Ford, GM, or Toyota. But I'd bet the original owner(s) of Oldsmobile (IIRC that was once an independent company that GM bought) and Packard (no longer exists...) and their ilk complained a bit in the 1920's and 1930's as the auto industry consolidated and matured.

      25 years ago the cable TV industry was in its infancy, and Turner lever

      • by MemRaven (39601) <kirk@@@kirkwylie...com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:38AM (#9780634)
        I think that the key thing that he's trying to say is that media, while being an example of a mature industry, is a different industry than something like automobile production. In essence, democracy depends on having a flourishing, vibrant media. Without it, democracy itself has major problems because the public is only exposed to a few viewpoints.

        Imagine that you're in Soviet Russia (where media controls you). You have three networks, but all three of them air the same stories, and are blatantly politically biased towards the government. How are you going to get alternative news? How are you going to have sufficient information to act as a proper democracy? Russia happens to be a good example today, because while it's nominally become a democracy, its media is once again as subserviant to the ruling structures that its democracy is suffering. If you're in Moscow and you want to hear news which is critical of Putin or supportive of anyone else, you're going to have a hard time trying to find media which will air those views.

        For those who say that competition between the oligarchs of media will prevent that, look again at Russia. What happens if the government "rewards" those who look favorably on its policies and "punishes" those who don't? Well, if there are 100 sources of news, then it doesn't matter, because they're not going to control all of them. But if there are only 3 or 4? How difficult would it be to "convince" all 3 or 4 major news sources that they should report a particular way on a story?

        And diversity of smallish news outlets doesn't help either. If you say "oh, well, we've got these hundred small internet sites and newspapers," the problem is that their credibility is in doubt with most people, because they take information on who to believe is credible from the major sources. So if you say to someone you get your news from NBC, and someone else says that they get their news from FooBar.com, if you're a normal person you're going to think they're a crackpot or incorrectly informed, because it lacks credibility.

        So imagine a situation where all major, credible news organizations are controlled by 3 people. Imagine how that would impact democracy. Now tell me that media is just another mature industry.

      • by blamanj (253811) on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:45AM (#9780714)
        While I, personally, wouldn't have any trouble with breaking up Ford and GM, (I think it would be nice if all companies greater than a certain size where prevented from owning more than 20% of the market), it really is a different kettle of fish.

        For one thing, the media conglomerates control how a large percentage of Americans get their information. Do you really want everyone to hear only the news that Rupert Murdoch thinks you should hear?

        For another, the broadcast media companies in particular, are making use of the public airwaves and as such, are required to submit to rules that they provide some public benefit. Broadcasters have been whining about those rules since day one, and have been weaseling their way out of them since day two. The FCC was supposed to act in the public interest, it is sadly much more likely to operate in the corporate interest these days.
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:30AM (#9779202)
    Mr Bachman and Mr Overdrive?
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:30AM (#9779203) Homepage Journal
    Face it: TV is dead .

    I don't watch TV much these days: mostly BBC World for news and a few cable channels that broacast things like "Six Feet Under" or documentaries. That's it. It's probably a couple of hours a week, tops.

    Most of the news and entertainment that I like, I obtain through the Internet, and it's been like that for several years.

    So, am I worried about media consolidation? No. Am I worried about Internet censorship and Internet Provider consolidation? Yes. Actually a lot more worried.
  • This is the same Ted Turner that, while saying oil and gas are evil is making a LOT of money off of them.

    " With the recent upturn in natural gas prices, Turner's holdings are worth billions. He recently signed an agreement to double the number of gas wells on the Vermejo to 1,060 wells and El Paso Corporation is paying him a 6.5 percent royalty."

    He thinks it is OK for HIM to have such things, but DAMN IT! us normal people shouldn't!
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:32AM (#9779231)
    ...John D. Rockefeller has expressed some concern with the size and potential political influence of big oil companies.
  • "At this late stage, media companies have grown so large and powerful, and their dominance has become so detrimental to the survival of small, emerging companies, that there remains only one alternative: bust up the big conglomerates . . ." " . . .because it's so much more difficult to buy them up when they're big."
  • I understand what he is saying and agree with the problem, but his proposed solution We need a new set of rules that will break these huge companies to pieces just outsources this problem to the government, which is in on the whole big media thing, since the government has an inherent conflict of interest when regulating big media outlets.

    The source of the problem isn't the media moguls or the current laws, it is the technology of broadcasting which uses finite resources (radio frequency bands) to broadca

  • by thecombatwombat (571826) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:37AM (#9779284)
    Yes Ted Turner is easily the center of the evils he's complaining about . . . . but well, did anyone RTFA before bashing him?

    Sure there's hypocrisy in Turner saying big media should be broken up, but he explains himself rather well. I admit I haven't even read the whole article yet. Maybe he's a little bit bitter (AOL), but he starts by explaining that he could never have gotten started in the current environment and then goes on to detail lots of real problems with the current media. Why can't he just be a very smart old man, who knows more about this topic than probably any of us, and is pissed because his industry is going to hell?
  • Ted Turner has got no [blogspot.com] right to [littlegreenfootballs.com] get on a pedestal about integrity when CNN's is doubtful at best [blogspot.com].
    • RTFA RTFA RTFA

      He is no longer in control of any of the stations he founded/bought up. In the end, he was forced to sell out to Time Warner, and in the process lost control. His entire missive points out how he was fortunate to come along in the late 1960s when the environment was very conducive to independent media ownership. He states, rightly so, that no one could follow his path today, due to the oligopoly of media corporations today.
  • In this environment, most independent media firms either get gobbled up by one of the big companies or driven out of business altogether.

    While I totally agree with what Ted Turner says, I think he's missed one tiny thing: the freakin' internet. And digital TV. And the huge & growing increase in avenues of communication.

    While the major Networks may have more control over what *they* broadcast, there are significantly more options today outside of the major networks than there were ten years ago, and t
  • Just like his buying up of small working ranches and turning them into his private wilderness preserves. [216.239.57.104]
    • Are you kidding me? The man buys up tonnes of commercial land, reestablishes working grasslands, re-introduces buffalo (a declining, indigenous, massive mammal that once numbered in tens-of-millions on the NA praries) and you have a PROBLEM with this?

      The man is the largest private land-owner in the USA as a result of this effort, and some environmental-denier cranks want to nit-pick the most ridiculous faux-pas he commits? "He bulldozed a hilltop to improve the sighlines of a mountain range" is the best
  • by reallocate (142797) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:44AM (#9779360)
    Well?
  • why do these hipocrites say that after they sold off their own company to these conglomerates?
  • In other words, Ted's pissed that the nasty evil conservative Fox News Channel is more popular and less vilified than CNN, so now it's time to change the rules.

    I'm sure Big Media was perfectly fine to Ted back in the AOL-Time-Warner heyday, but now, his empire's receded, it's time to lop the winners off at the knees. Why should he care now -- after all, he's made his Big Media money.

    Wah wah, Ted Turner. Wah waaaaaaaah.
    • Boy, you didn't RTFA.

      He's not pissed that there's a Fox News, he's not pissed that there is an ABC or MSNBC or whatever. His whole point is that you are losing out because the way the markets have changed.

      These giant companies are stifling innovation, they are making it damn near impossible for anyone to get a start in that area. In order for a station to show anything they force the people who made it to sell it to them. Otherwise it won't get shown. You don't like it, go fart in the wind.

      One of my
  • Ted is television. Last time I checked, he and his chronies were getting their asses soundly kicked around the globe by Internet media. I don't see that changing, and I don't see television as it stands having a hope in hell of competing with it in the long run. What Ted says is really rather irrelevant if you no longer care about Television. I won't be sad to see it go. Clear the rest of that shit off the cable and sattelite lines to make room for more internet traffic.

    If Ted wants to turn around and buck
  • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:53AM (#9779453) Journal
    Most people didn't RTFA and made the obvious comment about his being a big media company.

    Quoth the article:
    "This wasn't necessarily bad for Turner Broadcasting; we had already achieved scale. But seeing these rules changed was like watching someone knock down the ladder I had already climbed."

    To sum up the point that he made in the article, small media companies have more management freedom and thus a greater freedom to innovate. These innovations cause change in the greater world as larger conglomerates start "me-too" enterprises to compete with the new company. By changing rules to favor larger companies, it kills the innovation happening even at the large ones (since the practice of "me-too" requires someone to do it first).

    He simply wants the same opportunities for other people that he had.
  • by MancDiceman (776332) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:03AM (#9779557)
    People are saying Turner is the proverbial kettle calling the pot black. They miss the point.

    Yes, he built CNN but no longer owns it. He has no control of AOL Time Warner, and if he did it is quite clear they would be a very different company. The empire building is not his doing. I've read a lot of interviews with Turner, and he strikes me as a bombastic and determined man, but he has always been against "The Big Guys" and trying to battle for "The Little Guys" because he's always seen himself as the little guy. Go read a history of CNN to see what I mean.

    As for the general point of this article, he has a point. The company that disturbs me the most actually is Disney. Down in Florida they have effectively got their own government for several hundred thousand square acres, they have a town in which they control everything (called Celebration IIRC), they have changed state law so that nobody can be declared dead on Disney property, and have interests in more government projects than an entertainment company really should. They are literally, not figuratively, a law unto themselves. How the hell did that happen? How can you compare Turner's business interests with that lot?

    On a day when I have readjusted my outlook on life in general after reading the slashdot article and associated links on Joe Trippi, thinking about this stuff just makes me mad quite frankly.
  • I don't know much about Ted Turner, I understand he's hardly the most angelic of businessmen. However that has nothing to do with any of the arguments he has put forwardm namely that lax FCC regulations have done nothing but stifle innovation,competition and quaility over the media as a whole.

    The media conglomerates will argue for less rules and regulations, a laisse faire approach. But as we know, unregulated markets lead to only one thing. Monopolies. This is especially true in the mass media field. It costs relativily little for a TV or Radio broadcaster to reach an extra 10 million viewer/listeners. They just turn up the wattage on their antennae. This means companies can easily expand and grow without any significant investement. This is unlike most industries, where in order to expand, companies need to invest in more raw materials and manpower, hindering their ability expand to a point where they dominate.

    However for mass media, and even software, expansion is easy. It's even more so if you centralise all your content and simply broadcast and sell the same thing to everyone, which is what has happened. Turner is absolutly right. The big guns have taken over, due to the ease of expansion, and the difficulties of entry for independants. And now that they have gained a monopoly, they have abused their positions by promoting bad TV. People spend less time watching TV now, not because of other distractions, but because TV is simply bad. What else do you expect from a monopoly except a low quaility product. He's dead right about reality TV. The number one reason there is so much of it is because it is cheap.

    Whatever about Turner, his points are good. Regulations need to be tightened. Having only 3-4 companies with complete control over a medium, is quite frankly dangerous, as well as foolish. The examples of censorship in the article are frightening. What happens when the big guns decide the only news we need is COPS and LA car chases?

    Rampant capitalism leads to feudalism. You've got to have rules, otherwise everybody gets a bad deal.

    The author makes good points. I wonder if the mainstream media will give them air time?
    • If people are watching less TV, then why are they still getting fatter?

      Personally, I disagree that more regulations are needed. Rather, I think that we Americans need to get off of our fat asses and start looking for alternate news sources other than Fox News or CNN. A simple Google search shows more than enough alternate views and stories than what the main stream medias show.

      Do you really want tigher FCC control of the TV and Radio after what happend to the Superbowl half time show and Howard Stern?
  • by hal2814 (725639) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:20AM (#9779771)
    Ok, I don't really care much for Ted Turner or his comments here but it would be nice to see arguments that are based on Ted Turner today instead of Turner five to ten years ago. Here are some things you might have missed happening:

    1. Ted Turner is not married to Jane Fonda. They got a divorce. [cnn.com]

    2. Turner does not own CNN, TBS, etc. except for the small amount of stock he might still own in AOL-Time Warner company. (RTFA)

    3. Turner did not own CNN at the time of the AOL-Time Warner merger. [209.157.64.200]

    4. Turner WAS Vice Chairman of Time Warner (who bought CNN) when the AOL-Time Warner merger happened. (According to previous link, he opposed the merger.) [cnn.com]
  • Strange Bedfellows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quirk (36086) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:33AM (#9779913) Homepage Journal
    Only in America? It's interesting to view the article from the viewpoint of Noam Chomsky's classic work on the consolidation of American media, "Manufacturing Consent" [amazon.com]. Approached from either perspective, the future of independent news media in America looks to be in poor health. Turner's quote from Justice Hugo Black seemed to bridge the approach Turner has taken to that of Chomsky: "The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public."

To restore a sense of reality, I think Walt Disney should have a Hardluckland. -- Jack Paar

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