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The Media

'Big Media' Set to Get Even Bigger 113

seldolivaw writes: "You might be interested in this Wired article, a fairly good summary of why monolithic media is a bad idea, and exactly how close the US already is. Funny quote: "There are six or seven media conglomerates that rule the world... [b]ut how many companies do you need to provide programming to mass audiences? Six companies should be enough. At least it's not two." America, head for the hills -- I'm safe in the UK, not!"
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'Big Media' Set to Get Even Bigger

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  • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @06:12PM (#281016) Homepage Journal
    against this sort of thing is that the people you're advocating against own all the means via which you can make the biggest impact.

    That means that you generally find anti-massive-media-conglomeration devolve into little discussion groups and message boards that do a lot of self congratulatory back patting about how evil all this is - ending up with remarkably icestuous discussions with little outside influence, to the point where people involved in such discussions start getting sufficiently out of touch with reality that they come of sounding like rabid crazed individuals who want to live in a happy little commune.

    It's about that point where the media conglomerates decide its worth publishing...

  • (let me translate for you)

    The number of sites that slashdot will link to for stories just went through the floor. T & H worried that media will figure out that Slashdot is sucking its bandwidth and must be eliminated or purchased.

    News at 11 (ON CHANNEL 1!! mwuahahaha!)
  • by JamesOfTheDesert ( 188356 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @05:27PM (#281018) Journal
    Information may be everywhere, but it's only useful when it gets to someone. The problem I see is that, technically, I'll have the right to publish whatever I like on my website, but the owners of the infrastructure will have the "right" to shut me down, or filter me out for their subscribers.

    And information-everywhere technology only helps those who have it (and that doesn't include those on AOL).

  • it's a damn good thing I never watch news on the television... oh wait thats right I don't have cable or an antenna for that matter. I will stick to my dvd collection, there is plenty of truth about the world in there. The Matrix, The Truman Show, Terminator 2, Meet Joe Black, what more reality stories could you possibly need.

    At the rate people are signing onto the Internet for the first time every day news via television will be less and less important. On the net you don't have to wait around till the TV station has scheduled the news to be on. Just hit the news site(s) you like the most and get some news.

    Sure you don't have the guarantee that the news is right, but there seems to be a much better chance of it. Especially when you start going to sites that have public discussion forums. You get enough people discussing a topic and the "truth" is bound to come out. You also have the ability to check the story against other sites, see what they have to say about it.
  • by Karpe ( 1147 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @06:16PM (#281020) Homepage
    In Brazil there is no limitation on what can a media conglomerate own. The biggest media companies in Brazil own television, newspapers, radios, weekly magazine, "internet portals", internet service providers, etc. It is very difficult for a community radio to get a license to operate legally (so they usually run as pirate stations), but for the few families that have political power for ages (and who own media brazilian conglomerates) it's very easy to open a new radio station or even tv station. Not only that, but these media companies not only run cable tv and cable broadband, but they usually run these business as a monopoly in many metropolitan areas.
    It's common to only have access to the online version of magazine X if you subscribe to the ISP of the same media conglomerate. It's pretty messy, but people don't give a damn. What irritates me is when you see advertising of a new branch of the conglomerate in the other distribution media of the conglomerate, and you think to yourself that it is obvious that they didn't pay for that advertisement.

    Oh, and we have our FCC. It's called ANATEL, for Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicacoes (National Telecom Agency), but it is also known as Aqui NAo TEm Lei (There is no law here).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I particularly like CNN. Especially their confrontational opinion shows like The Spin Room. They've actually mastered the art of the single-opinion opinion show. I recently saw an edition of Talkback Live in which every single one of their interviewees was on the same side of the debate. Very enlightening.

    Did I mention that their website is one of the most popular sources of news on the net?

  • Obviously he's referring to print media and your rebbutal is uninformed.

    TV breakdown:

    9 & Optus Pay + Half of the print media (And interestingly a majority of major farms and Casinos) - Kerry Packer

    7 - Kerry Stokes

    10 - not sure

    Foxtel & the rest of the Print Media - Rupert Murdoch

    Effectively the bulk of the Australian media market is controlled by Packer & Murdoch (A foreigner now). And they have had the rules changed by governments for the last 30 years to enable them to take a bigger and bigger slice of the pie. We are now effectively in a position where the media moguls decide who will be the next government through selective reportage.

    The Government is in the act of hobbling the ABC and SBS through budget cuts and right wing managemnet appointments, further diminishing the range of opinions expressed within the mainstream media.

    This is the antithisis of democracy - for a democracy to work effectively the citizens of it must be well informed. As ownership of media contracts, so does freedom.
  • Did I mention that their website is one of the most popular sources of news on the net?

    They do not get 1.5 Million hits/day. Guess who does?
  • by s390 ( 33540 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @07:39PM (#281025) Homepage
    Consolidation of news media is a concern, but not a very critical one. As fast as interesting, successful competitors get bought up, new outfits spring up to take their places as upstart new media. As the formerly fresh lose their chops and glitter and begin to take on the bland aspects of homogenized corporate mind control, smaller and nimbler startups start getting attention, taking marketshare from the older and slower organizations, and growing revenues (advertising _always_ follows circulation/hit numbers).

    And the media mix evolves over time, as new channels become popular. To see this, just look at the evolution of news delivery over the last twenty years or so. When I was 12 I had a paper route - about 50 customers at first, after school - then 100+, early morning. In my town that paid me about $1/month per customer, not bad for a kid. Almost _everybody_ took the newspaper. Not every house had a TV, then. We would canvas poorer neighborhoods regularly to sign up folks who'd just moved in, got a regular job, etc. (I once tried to solicit a subscription at a rundown whorehouse, 11 AM on a Saturday morning. The "lady" at the door was sweetly disappointed that I was too young for what they could trade. So was I, as I recall....) Ahem! Where was I - oh yes, media progression...

    (I didn't read newspapers or watch TV at college - too busy with drugs, sex, and rock&roll, I guess... Or maybe it was the physics, chemistry, protest marches, philosophy, falling in love, working computer operations, getting dumped, programming, being depressed, changing jobs, recovering, all those things we all do in our early to mid 20s.)

    Then everyone got TVs, even the poor people (who usually paid _more_ for them due to time-payment deals) and there were only three major networks, plus an independant station in my town. About this time there was a bitter union strike/lockout at one of the newspapers, which resulted in a busted union and only one newspaper with any mass circulation (a situation that persists to this very day in the tight little Northwest city where I was raised - and I knew it very well - dated a lady Mayor's daughter who lived a couple blocks away (those were many _nice_ summer nights), later narrowly avoided getting assaulted by some local asshole power-broker when his paid-for candidate lost an election, knew the tavern owner (now former) Mayor,and so on). But looking back, it's clear that the media gravity, and the political power structure changed, there. But it wasn't TV that levered the political change. What made the difference was a little alternative rag of a weekly newspaper. They dug up enough dirt to force the major newspaper to cover the real issues (which it did, professionally well), and the result was a political pendulum-swing that this particular small state is still recovering from.

    OK, so there were three, count 'em, only three major networks, plus this hodge-podge of local independant local stations. Then, cable TV got rolled out (and how _that_ happened is a really nasty story in itself - major money skullduggery is buried back there). Somewhere in the early to mid 80s CNN got traction through cable and started _humiliating_ the big networks! The 1990 Gulf War was telecast on CNN, much of it _live_! ABC, NBC, CBS had their faces pushed in the dirt by CNN! (I was interested, since I'd been in Kuwait only six months before. But, I was in Phoenix when the air war started, and heard the CNN guy while watching the realtime AA fire over Baghdad.)

    So, then Ted Turner sold out to Time Warner. And then AOL took advantage of the NASDAQ stock bubble (can you say "Tulip Mania? - I knew you could) to swallow Time Warner whole. But nothing's changed, just the players, and their chances, now. There's new media out there, bubbling up, sharp and fresh and struggling for market share, which _will_ come....

  • There is one basic problem with the US system: the FCC considers airwaves public instead of private property. As such, they can "license" bands, and then continue their meddling. If one thinks about it, this gives great aid to the license holders, in this case mega-corporations. If the airwaves were treated like real estate, the licensees would have to watch their backs.

    Here is a Cato Institute paper [cato.org] on the issue, titled "Property Rights in Radio Communication: The Key to Reform of Telecommunications Regulation." Obviously, it's about radio, but the same principles apply to TV.

    *** Proven iconoclast, aspiring epicurean ***

  • If you look at the books on the best sellers lists for non-fiction these days you will see a big echo of the TV and movie culture. Because thats what sells. And a lot of those books are more or less writen by "companies" not indaviduals. A prime example are the "autobiographys" of famous people. Most of these are writen by lackies of the publishing company that express no indapendant control at all. Then after that the book is handed off to the think tank people who diside what will sell the book, ie non ofensive contraversy and a 4th grade reading level.

    What you propose is an interesting idea but that would violate free speech laws. Tell the _big media companies_ what they can not produce and you can kiss _your_ first amendment rights good bye in the same breath. I am way too cynical for a 26 year old.

  • My god... look what all this monolithic does to your spelling and grammar too!
  • by kiwifruit ( 93717 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @11:14PM (#281029)

    Had to bite

    how did these companies get so goddamn big? Your money.

    erm.... yes. But it's a bit more tricky than that. Most of the money media outlets recieve isn't from the customers directly, but from advertising revenue. For example, the cover price of a dead tree copy of the New York Times is a tiny fraction of the revenue that edition will collect. It's more accurate to say the media outlets got big because *advertisers* got big on our money.

    That's just the start. As has been pointed out, GE is a major owner of media outlets. Some of their most profitable exercises, however, have more to do with supplying industrial and weapons componentry. Jet engines, nuclear detonator components, and landmine componentry to domestic and overseas markets are some of the more striking items. I could promise to stop buying them, but I'm not yet a customer.

    I don't really mind having six or seven corporations, or whatever, personally. Doesn't bother me a bit, because they still can't force me to do anything.

    However, what they can do is take away your ability to make informed decisions. If the information required to make a choice is controlled by editors who understand the importance of responsibility to G.E.'s shareholders, then your ability to make decisions that reflect badly on G.E. is severly curtailed.

    This isn't conspiracy theory - this is a basic fact. If you have any role at all in the modern corporate world, have a look around at who's getting promoted. It's usually people who have a pretty good sense of responsibility to the shareholders. To expect a media outlet, which is a company, to be subject to different rules is naive.

    Given this, it's pretty unlikely you'll see articles dismissing a media outlet's parent company. Have a look at that list of who owns what media to get an idea of who's not going to get bad press.

    The truth is, the internet is exactly the kind of tool that these companies fear, because it offers diversity

    Agreed. But have you noticed the drop in diversity over the past five years? Part of the point of the article is that Internet portals are going the way of newspapers. True, content of material on the Internet is mostly up to the individual users, but Quality of Service isn't. Which is going to get more hits - a flashy site, owned by a portal with huge bandwidth, or one not owned by said portal, that doesn't have the bandwidth to choke an ant.

    In most of the developed world, finding good food instead of McFast Food is an uphill battle. It seems information is going the same way.

    To answer the topic - what to do about it. Give a toss. Spread information. Use the Internet for something productive. Become known in your neighborhood as that wacko who babbles about media control, in the hopes that a few people will catch on and keep demand for diversity alive.

    Anyone got more suggestions?

  • That should be :-

    My god... look what all this monolithic media does to your spelling and grammar too!

  • To be more precise: Life mimics Onion, Onion mimics life. You mimic me, and I mimic you. Food for thought anyways.

    Sorry, couldn't help but generalize your post title.

    - Steeltoe
  • by paul.dunne ( 5922 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @12:03AM (#281032)
    Wow! You used 769 words to completely miss the point. Is that some kind of record? "If you don't like it, you don't have to buy it" is exactly the argument these huge conglomerates use -- that should make anyone a bit suspicious straight off. Is that all freedom means to you? The choice between Brand X and Brand Y? Has it never occurred to you that society might be composed of anything other than atomised consumers making trivial consumer "choices" between two types of coloured sugar water or monogrammed running shoes?
  • by SomeoneYouDontKnow ( 267893 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @12:09AM (#281033)
    You are correct about network radio, but don't be so quick to discount the current wave of consolidation in the industry. Deregulation of ownership caps has been the death of independent radio in this country. You can slam the quality of programming before and after deregulation, but I can tell you that there are a hell of a lot fewer telented people working in the radio business now than there were before this mess occurred. This is because the group owners consolidate their properties under one management and programming strucutre. The role of air talent is reduced to recording computer-assisted shows. (It's amazing how "live" these things can sound if they're done right, when they were in fact done hours or even days earlier.) The same fate has befallen station management: consolidate, consolidate, consolidate, and to hell with the quality of the product. Believe it or not, there have been a hell of a lot of people in radio who really did give a damn about their local communities. I had the pleasure to work at a station owned by one of them, and they are very aware of the service they are entrusted to deliver. Yes, there are lots of sleazeballs out there, but don't think for a minute that radio professionals aren't any less aware of what they do than people at ISPs or the computer industry in general. Back to deregulation. The person who commented on how the big group owners would like to get rid of local stations altogether may not be far from the truth. IMHO, the only reason you're seeing a shift away from strictly sat-delivered content back to local programming is bacause technology has advanced to the point that getting a computer to handle programming is as cost-effective as using a satellite service, and it sounds better to listeners. So what if you need talent to say a line or two between songs? You need these folks to do your local commercials anyway, and with consolidated facilities, you can get them to handle several stations at once. Meanwhile, the remaining independently-owned stations are struggling to make a go of it against these consolidated giants. How do you, an owner of one station, compete against a company that owns five of them in the same city and can offer ad packages across all of them? It's hard, and so when a company like Cumulus or Clear Channel comes along and offers you a wad of cash to take the station off your hands, it's an offer that's hard to refuse. About the only stations that can't be bought are the public and college stations, and that's where you're going to find the most creative programming nowadays. When you look at all this, is it any wonder that big media wanted Low Power FM killed? I agree that badly-engineered stations can cause havoc with other ones, but I'm sure what most of the companies are worried about is that someone might come along and actually do something creative, forcing them to get off their collective asses. The Internet has the potential to do this, but you can't get Internet radio in your car or on the beach. This might change, but with cell phone networks bursting at the seams and demanding more bandwidth, I have my doubts about rich multimedia content going wireless in a big way any time soon. I must admit that it's almost reached the point where I'd advocate pirate radio. Having worked on the professional side of radio for a while, I have reservations about it. It's hard enough to run a professional station, even with good management and engineers, so what would happen when anyone could crank up a transmitter and take to the air? You might get a bunch of idiots with enough wherewithal to get a transmitter hogging the airwaves. Still, things have deteriorated to the point that maybe we need some civil disobediance to shake things up a bit.
  • Murdoch uses his news papers as a vanity publishing empire. The 'journalists' spend a great deal of the paper pushing his interests and views on what should be changed in an effort to steer public opinion in that direction. Most of the view expressed are Conservative, with one or two left wing columnists to promote the idea that there is 'balance' in the reporting.
    With the increasing importance of digital television his newspapers have been agitating for him to be able to enter the market - he is currently blocked due to cross ownership laws and the fact that he is now a foreign national.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Publicly traded corporations ought to publish a list of every company they have a major investment in, and publish that list in a standard place on their website. For example, Viacom could have a URL:


    which brings up a list of US government mandated disclosures (who they own, who owns them, privacy policy, political donations, etc.). They would have another URL:

    www.viacom.com/pub_disclosures.us/investments.ht ml

    Where we would find an alphabetized table of all companies Viacom has at least a 5% stake in. Each row in the table would have a company name, % that Viacom owns, link to <company_domain_name>/pub_disclosures.us/owners. html.

    The law could require the list be no more than three months old, and that it follow a standardized template so that it will always be legible. Another plus, is that it would be easy to write a bot that would recursively search to find who owns what.

  • Worse, if radio stations, owned by a few or owned by many, all played Britney songs because that's what brought in the most $$$, I doubt Ayn Rand would have had a problem with that.

    In fact, she felt radio frequencies should be owned like plots of land, sold and traded with no strings attached, not licensed from the government.
  • > Who controls the media doesn't bother me, who controls the food does.

    And thank the FRIKKIN' LORD it's capitalists!

    Food so cheap that extremely efficient farmers are going out of business because they can't compete with the extremely, extremely efficient farmers.

    Food so cheap, a McDonald's worker can earn enough to feed their family of four for a day in one hour of work.
  • Yes, but a large reason for that is the BBC, not to mention ITN.

    Having 2 major non-murdoch-owned news / ents providers, one of which is semi-owned by the govt (Actually the license-fee payers), increases the likelihood of you getting good news from the "non-aligned" sources like murdoch...

    They all act as checks and balances. Anyhoo, try reading some non-UK media about the UK some time. Highly amusing...

  • Well said. If you haven't already read the book "the Media Monopoly" by Ben Bagdician, go get it. it's in it's sixth edition, and covers just how we got to 6 major players in the media. Tom Frank's "One Market Under God" is another, slightly more humorous book about these topics. I would also recomend any of Jello Biafra's recent speeches on CD. Very informative.

    The problem I have with it is not the lack of entertainment or options, simply the spin that corporate media puts on their topics. Like the WTO and IMF. Geneticly modified food. And considering that GE is also the worlds largest arms manufacturer, especially nuclear, wait and see the spin they are going to out on any accdents that happen.

  • Always one guy on /. who points out a flaw in my post.

    Yes we've seen connections - i know it doesn't follow one point.

    Damn why do i respond to anonymous cowards?
  • Anyone got more suggestions?

    An interesting logical conclusion of this argument is: if you want smaller internet media companies to thrive among the big conglomerates, you should support their advertisers.

    In other words, when you visit your favorite indy media site, click on its banner ads.
  • An official from the Australian Competitive Commission (???) once said that their job was to ensure n+1 companies existed in any market where n was defined to be the minimum necessary for a stable system. The general rule of thumb seems to be around 5+/-2 mega providers with a host of niche specialists. As Murdoch once noted, the only way to make money is to own both the content and control the distribution mechanism. Some groups cough*MS*cough) seem to concenetrate just fine on the control aspects so long as they can restrict the content providers.

    What media representatives are forgetting is that people are quite able to create their own forms of amusement and reality distorting fields. With software and half-decent hardware you can blend your own tracks, publish your own local rag, and propagate generic gossip on your personal grapevine. People have always been able to practice their own instruments and can exist quite independently of external providers. The NGOs have shown it is possible to exert pressure independent of governments and political activists hav ebeen enobled by the internet. I believe figures are showing a drop in total hours of TV watched as people substitute the net (reference anyone?).

    Sometimes you just have to have faith that the invisible hand will self-correct.

  • > And you know what the result has been? Local
    > radio is now monopolized by a few huge
    > corporations

    And they all play Britney songs because that's what the masses desire. That may upset their intellectual superiors, but it's very, very little-d democratic. Those of socialist bent should love the current state of things. A capitalist does. "Feed 'em what they want," both sides agree.

    > Its been almost as successful as
    > electricity deregulation [in California, presumably]

    The massive failure of electrical deregulation is because it was only partial deregulation, and the results were predictable.

    They set up a situation identical to areas with rent control. Demand keeps growing, but the profit motive is completely eviscerated. Thus capitalism CANNOT respond by new power plants (als hindered by nonsensical environmental laws, sorry, regulations.) What happens when there is demand but no profit (incentive) for people to build new supplies (apartments, electrical plants)? Shortage, and that means cost skyrockets and/or shortages appear, right on perfect economic schedule (pronounce that "shedule" for maximum effect.)

    Of course, California isn't the world, and outstate is trying to keep up, but, although there is financial incentive to build new power plants to supply you, it is stupid for them to do so when California might chang its laws any day, thus allowing native companies to start building plants again, cutting out the legs from under the outstate power companies. Therefore they don't build more either, and just run up the rates to California.

    This simple economic analysis is nothing new, peeps. It's been around for the better part of a century. That modern socialists would haul the entire population down this road is so knowingly irresponsible as to be darned near treasonous. And all because a few votes can be gotten from the average bozo who can't see beyond the end of their nose.

  • Let's also not forget the formula for success isn't just "better", but cost as well.

    MS OS still sucks compared to a Mac, but MS OS is better in that many other applications are available, and a WinTel box is still $1k cheaper than a comparable Mac box. Guess what wins out? Now do the same analysis with free Linux, disregarding the physical box cost, and note that "better" means also easier to use, and you'll see why Linux ain't going anywhere any time soon, either.

  • I'm afraid I'm not your sister. Wrong gender, for one thing. However, I've done my time behind a console. One of the most fun jobs I ever had. I just wish the pay was good enough to live on. :)
  • Very well said.

    I would like to add that even small ownership of, say, a TV station gets you very little.

    Where I live, they added a new broadcast station about ten years ago that was an unused frequency. That station couldn't hook up with any of the networks. What do stations like that broadcast? Home shopping channels and religious broadcasting (both masterfully tuned to sucking the life savings out of old people.)

    Whooo hooo! Life without the big media moguls is grand!

  • he top 10 sites having 75% of the web traffic (or whatver the statistic is).

    Web sites don't generate traffic. Viewers do.
    As a result those top ten sites have earned their traffic.
  • How long did it take you to right your little anggy speech, just so that everyone will ignore you completely. I read slashdot to bitch about crap like this, not defend it. And I hate the Lemmings, they are so gdamn annoying, without them we would not have Brittney Spears, Eminem, or any other corprate puppet. Unfortunatly in life, Lemmings have power in numbers, and simply don't walk off a cliff, they do once in a while, but thats cause Eminem said so, or Doom Made them.
  • The key here is just like radio: Local, Local, Local. Local folks presenting local issues concerning the local area. This is awfully hard to do with big media.

    Most radio stations in the US are owned by a few (two?) companies (thanks to the wonderful "deregulation" of radio. Yipee for Ayn Rand -- i hope she likes listening to the same 5 songs from coast to coast).

    If they were allowed to build a transmitter powerful enough to blanket the entire country, they wouldn't be wasting any more money on this "local" stuff. The internet can be "broadcast" from anywhere, so we'll see in the future exactly what we see now -- the top 10 sites having 75% of the web traffic (or whatver the statistic is).

    We'll have local stuff on the net only because it's part of the power of customization and demographic targetting -- if they could get away with mass-produced content for everyone, they would. Its no less expensive to make local content, and you can only sell it one place!...

  • Panic? I should hope we would still have the capability to not watch/listen/read the content of these evil conglomerations. We consumers should organize ourselves like they are. Then we can show them what's what.
  • Go away. I have media to sell. My customers are not satisfied and if they are they shall be reprogrammed.
  • when he says that 6 or 7 companies rule mass media that is a total lie. He is only thinking about the western world, and even then it's still not true. I don't think time warner has that many stations in Russia, China, or India. He seems to be forgetting that a very large percentage (over half) live in these countries.
  • Sure, there is essentially an oligarchy running the media, and it's only bound to get worse. But what culture is reflected in the media they're pushing? Mine.

    Whew! Thank God I'm on the right side of that one. As lowly peons, we lose out on so much else. Don't deny me the right to gloat over this one thing. For once I'm on the winning team. Yeah Western culture! Hurray for the English language, however bastardized and dumbed-down.

    Sure, the media oligarchy can bring you Punky Brewster in sixteen languages.

    But it's better in my language and everyone knows it. [ridiculopathy.com]

  • I'd be curious to hear a limey's take on this - Skye's penetration isn't that big, how does the BBC handle it's near monopoly?

    In Canada the CBC handles it by producing really crappy television (except for news and sports) coverage.
  • Link to these company's news, then write something with a different POV or go into more detail. It's happening here on /., Metafilter [metafilter.com] and I am trying to do it vertically on FootballExtreme [humancasting.com]

    It could create a small chink in the armor that leads to a groundswell.
    OliverWillis.Com [oliverwillis.com]
  • There are tons of books (sci-fi) where the oppressive power are eventually over thrown. There are also many writen where the power self corrects.

    Dream on. Humanity is one heck of a complex machine. On one hand there are chances that this isn't bad and that there'll never be real problems resulting from big corps.

    I tend to think otherwise. Simply all corps are not directly controlled by people. When you think about it you'll see what i mean.

    Take Nike as an example. It's big corp it makes tons of money. It's a good examble because of it's business practice. Nikes is famous for it's sweat shops. It's a big deal and most people here knows about that.

    So how did the sweat shops started? Nike no doubt has staffs dealing with each and every supplier. These staff are human with human aspirations. They want to do a good job in their boss's eyes. So they can get that promotion so they can afford to get that dream house.

    Off they go to some developing country to see about this new factory. OF course they get the royle treatment from the boss of the factory. They might see signs of abuse and bad treatment of workers but heck it'll shave a few million a year off their balace sheet and well in their eyes they see that dream house not the bleeding hands or hot sweaty factory floor.

    This is how corps work.. by the lowest human factors. Everyone just want to make that extra buck so I agree no this is a terrible thing.
  • Am I the only one who finds it disturbing that all the media dose is provide "programming"? Last time I checked these companies also printed books, magazines and other forms of media in addition to programming like TV and movies.

    Interesting. Your post made me think about this for a second. Correct me if I'm wrong, but book publishers aren't nearly as "evil" and controlling as TV or radio stations. Why is this? I think it's because book publishers generally don't produce content themselves. Authors come to them and commission them to publish their work. In TV and radio, this isn't so much the case. Maybe we ought to redefine what broadcasters are allowed to do. Maybe they should be more like book publishers by broadcasting others' work instead of their own.

    Just an idea that came to me after two minutes of thinking...

  • You only get state ran stuff now in Russia and China..

    Yes there are alternate choices but hardly very much.
  • http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/010414/l14329358_7.html

    The Russian private TV network, NTV, the only one not controlled by the Government, has been bought out by Gazprom, the Russian state-dominated gas company due to the fact that they owe more than a billion dollars, mostly to Gazprom. To add insult upon injury, they sent a US businessman, Boris Jordan, to run the TV network.

    The funny part was where Jordan said, "Now we will have free speech, now we will have independence of the media." The last independent TV station being taken over by the state run gas company. Yup, that's free speech and independence in the media alright. Hate is love. Ignorance is strength.

    The sad part is, in America, we are going to soon learn that corporate conglomerates are no less dangerous to our freedom than Josef Stalin himself.
    63,000 bugs in the code, 63,000 bugs,
    ya get 1 whacked with a service pack,
  • by Anonymous Coward
    [BLOCKQUOTE]There is one basic problem with the US system: the FCC considers airwaves public instead of private property. [/BLOCKQUOTE]

    How soon we do forget how things got to be the way they are...the airwaves ARE public property. Radio transmission and reception technology was developed by private citizens and used for two-way communication before broadcasters existed and corporations saw any profit potential in radiating EMF at radio frequencies. Of course once it was refined to the point where it was useful for them, they stepped in. But, of course, in the laissez-faire no regulation environment of the time, anyone was allowed to transmit on any frequency they chose to, and the numerical majority (amateur operators) who had been there all along were seen as 'interference' to the coporate broadcasters.

    Your bullshit Cato institute study seems to recognize this in a roundabout way. But in fact it was the communications act of 1934 (and prior regulations dating to around the time of World War I) that created the idea of transmitting rights as 'property', and if it were not for that the development of for-profit broadcasting would have been impossible due to 'interference' from the original users of the bandwidth. If the FCC were eliminated tommorow, every broadcaster regardless of size, and every cell-phone system, and every other commercial user of spectrum would be whining to the government the next day to bring it back, because they would have no means at all to defend their 'property', and in fact it would not be their property at all any more than it would be anyone else's.

    In fact, that isn't what the Cato institute is arguing for at all. You might check the date on that report: 1982. What they are arguing for is a carefully controlled market, with freely tranferrable broadcast licenses, that retains the FCC to enforce artificial property rights. This has already happened! These guys must have practically ghost written the telecommunications act of 1996. And you know what the result has been? Local radio is now monopolized by a few huge corporations. Its been almost as successful as electricity deregulation, which is pretty hard to beat if you know what i'm saying.

  • Most radio stations in the US are owned by a few (two?) companies (thanks to the wonderful "deregulation" of radio. Yipee for Ayn Rand -- i hope she likes listening to the same 5 songs from coast to coast).

    Unmitigated bullshit. Talk to your parents (or your parents' parents) about how radio was before "deregulation" -- there was NBC, ABC, CBS .... and that was pretty much it.

    Are you tired of listening to the same five songs? Luckily, the computer industry isn't regulated (yet), so you can buy a Rio 500 and rip your CDs and program your own "radio station".
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • I believe the poster said he was from Ireland (as in the Republic of Ireland I would imagine), so he is neither part of the UK, nor does he get BBC.
  • Is it me or has anyone else noticed how the plot and events of Tommorrow Never Dies are coming true?

    Ok... there was the blowing up [bbc.co.uk] of MI6 buildinglate last year, they did this in the movie.

    There was the theives who tried to steal [bbc.co.uk] an expensive diamond from the Millennium Dome then tried to get away on a speed boat on the thames. Remember the black speedboat blasting past the Millennium Dome in the film?

    The chinese standoff and the dispute about terratorial waters/air when the spy plane crashed a couple of weeks ago. It was the Royal Navy in the film.

    What else?
  • It's strange to see what happened in the UK and Ireland with Sky. For some strange reasons there are hardly any decent "free-TV" channels.

    In Germany there are RTL, Sat1, Pro7, Kabel1, and a zillion other ones. You can sometimes get them via aerial, most areas via cable and everywhere by satellite. And while you have to pay for the dish, there is no subscription cost to satellite TV. If you're in the UK and get Sky you will notice all the German channels you get thrown in "for free" cause they use the same satellite and are not encrypted :).

    I would have thought it's more lucrative anyway to be financed by adverts if you're received by as many people as possible.

  • Sarcastic Rant: Where was the FCC when Microsoft cornered the OS, Internet browser and Office markets? Where was the FCC When Boeing swallowed and digested McDonell Douglas and became the only really signinficant manufacturer of airliners with a 80% world market share? Why is the European software industry dead? Why did the European Aircraft manufacturers allmost go the same way as the European Software industry?

    Simple! For most of the latter half of the last century the US industriy became dominated by Mega corporations while the European industry remained fragmented. This enabled US corporations to out compete the Europeans until the latter finally figured out that the only way to compete with the US is to form equally large and equally slimy Megacorporations of their own.

    So what does this have to do with the topic of this thread? Simple! If a few big media corporations control all the most frequently used news mediums it is easyer to influence public opinion. A decentralized system of many indipendent Newspapers, Radiostations, TV-channels is an unpredictable animal, and Politicians do not like unpreditable things. The Vietnam war clearly demonstrated that the media is a powerful tool to infuence public opinion. So powerful it caused US foreign policy to change. Public opinion would in future be an all important factor. Not just in national politics but in world politics. Ever since Politicians in Democratic countries all over the world hav been looking for a (Democratic) way to aquire that greatest luxury of Dictators, Control over the media.

    But how? Well, how do you normally gain control of a market now a days? You become the single biggest player on it, then you drive the competition off the market. Cases in point Microsoft and Boeing. And in case you think I am dumping on the US the US mobile phone industry is now under a similar attack by European Mobile phone giants like Deutsche Telekom. Shure, the US Congress is legislating to prevent it but if the Tele-Giants stay at it they will succeed where Microsoft, Boeing and others suceeded before them, and corner a fat profitable market. They learned from the best!

    Rupert Rupert Murdoch demonstrated how this can be applied to the media. You lobby politicians to pass legislation to make consolidation of news and entertainment mediums in the hands of a few Media moguls easyer. First national control and then you take the act Gobal. If you manage that, then you and your clique of 4-5 that control 90% of what the public hears negotiate with governments. A very democratic way to control the media. And a method which into the bargain is comaptable with all the best traditions of Democracy and a free market system. People like Rupert Murdoch are the "Kingmakers" of the 20'th and probabley also the 21'st century! SMILE!! Get used to it!!!



    Darn LSD flashbacks!

    Da Rabbit!
  • Monoliths have been directly linked to increases in weapon-making and violent clubbings, through studies on higher primates.
  • BBC? Monopoly? Don't make me laugh! The BBC hasn't been close to a monopoly since the early 80's.

    What makes the BBC refreshing is its non-commercial remit, and its charter to improve broadcasting technology. The BBC were at the forefront of digital TV here in the UK and are currently pushing Digital radio very hard. That said, they do still have to compete with the other high-quality channels (ITV, Ch4, Ch5, Sky1), so their output quality tends to be extremely high.

    Despite what certain people may say, BBC news is still highly respected worldwide. Certainly as much as ITN, and far more than the laughable Sky News (who recently ran an advertising campaign about their first reporter in Africa!!)
  • by wunderhorn1 ( 114559 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @05:10PM (#281068)
    If they didn't all get together and form industry associations that effectively give them the power of one monolithic company.

    Yes, I'm talking about the RIAA and MPAA...

  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @05:06PM (#281069) Homepage Journal
    The Columbia Journalism Review has a comprehensive list [cjr.org] of the handful of corporation that control most of the news media in the United States and the rest of the world. There are a few expected faces such as AOL Time Warner, Viacom and Disney with a few surprises (General Electric, AT & T).

    Where was the FCC when a handful of corporations slowly took over the media?

  • by Red Moose ( 31712 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @05:10PM (#281070)
    Hmmm, in Ireland he media on TV is owned effectively by either the national company (RTE) or British Sky Broadcasting, who own satellite TV.

    Marketing practices by Sky can really kill any challengers - to get digital satellite TV, etc., you pay £40 for installation, and the monthly subscription. It is a good deal, but they end up owning virtually all of the content.

    However, a balanced service does remain: on the news services section, both Sky news and CNN top the list, so it's not as if they limit the exposure using technology or anything (or, ahem, limit the broadcast quality of competing services cough-Windows XP and MP3-cough.

    The terrestrial based national coverage is quite poor however - 4 channels, 2 of which insist on high taxes to pay for sub-par content. The other two are just bad.

    Overall, I use the single service from Sky, and apart from perhaps high subscription rates (£36 a month) the single service is fine, and covers everything from news to teh american channels like Paramount and Sci-Fi channel.

    However, the biggest downer to a big company having monopoly is, as we all know by now, that they can charge/increase fees and you really have no choice but to pay if there is no competing brand/service of similar quality.

  • Information is everywhere, and despite the efforts of multinational media giants, that's not going to change. What we need, however, is a means of filtering that information to provide knowledge, to get past the noise and find the signal that interests us, whether personally or professionally.

    This has been discussed many times before, in many different venues. One of the works I found helpful in understanding where we are with mass communication is Alvin and Heidi Toffler's War and Anti-War, which draws a parallel between the development of communication methodologies and developments in warfare. They argue that we're already past the 'Information' age and into the 'Knowledge' age. I disagree, because we don't have the technology (yet) to allow individuals to filter any information sources as they please to synthesize the knowledge they want. It's coming, but it's slow. If and when it comes to fruition, it won't matter how many media giants eat the local radio and TV stations, because there will still be independent sources of news which can be used to garner alternative takes on the world.

    At least I hope there will be.... -drin
  • Yeah and you know what happens when you send that bot off to find out who owns what??.... It comes back with one name.

  • > The funny part was where Jordan said, "Now we
    > will have free speech, now we will have
    > independence of the media."

    That was rather incredible, given that they immediately fired all the on-air reporters who were heavily criticising the government.

    It's like firing George Will, Sam Donaldson, the McLauchlin Group, John Stossel, and the entire 60 Minutes staff, and inserting a newcast of the boat-rocking Barbara Walters and no-holds-barred Katie Couric. Now we have independence of the media.

    Someone in that corporation must owe a huge favor to the new leaders in government, or has been given the nudge-nudge, wink-wink that if things go to crap, well, who was friendly to the new totalitarians when they didn't have to be?

  • "how many companies do you need to provide programming to mass audiences"

    Am I the only one who finds it disturbing that all the media dose is provide "programming"?
    Last time I checked these companies also printed books, magazines and other forms of media in addition to programming like TV and movies.

    Oh wait, I just had an idea, the TV news is more for intertainment than for news, magaziens are for gosiping about what you saw on the TV, and books are for cronicaling the magazines and TV shows and movies.

    So I guess I was off base because ignorance is bliss and people these days are very happy not to know the details of world events. So these publicly held media companies are just following the wishes of their stock holders by dumbing down society.

    "All your indapendant thought are belong to us"
  • That'll be, "It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least too ways to spell any word."

    *Elvis voice* Thankyuhverymuch

  • I think we'll be alright, as long as they don't stir up an international incident with the Chinese government using a stealth boat. Hmmm. Wait. What just happened this month?

  • "Don't hate the media - become the media."
    - J. Biafra

    When the united nations overwhelmingly condemmed the united states for its blockade of cuba a couple of years ago, it recieved little media coverage in the united states. nothing at all, of course, about how its blockcade effects the people there, or why the united nations made that decision.

    Presently, the summit of the americas and / summit of the people are a week away in quebec city. and what are 99% of the "news" stories about? how the police are perparing for the protestors and inviews with local residents who are afraid that the local starbucks will have its windows broken. nothing, of course, about why the protestors are there in the first place. why is that?

    the same corporations and wealth addicts who own the media don't want you to know. if it was widely known that the recent "free trade" agreements give corporations on one country the ability to overturn democratically invoked laws in another country .... if americans knew that the 'clean air act' was no longer enforced because brazil objected to not being able to sell dirty gasoline .... if they knew that the 'dolphin safe' stickers on cans of fish no longer mean anything because mexico objected ....
    they might realize that they have very little democracy left at all.

    "everything is wonderful. the economy is blooming. all is well. go to your jobs, rent a video on the way home, sit in front of the TV and let us to the thinking for you. why, just look at all this quality programming and large breasts we have to show you. watch our 'news', about sports and celebreties and how much money the superbowl commericals made. things like laws and democracy are boring. issues are boring. we won't bother you with those."

    be afraid children. the internet is already WELL under way of being monitored and censored too. it's only a matter of time.
  • by RareHeintz ( 244414 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @05:14PM (#281078) Homepage Journal
    They were busy auctioning off our airwaves to the wealthiest companies on the planet. But where was the FTC? Monopolies and industry-dominating cabals are their bailiwick, for the most part.

    - B

  • The way George Bush and others see it, government is oppressive in regulating corporations. With free reign, they could (and are on the process of) destroying the environment, destroying the labor movement, using their money to take away individual freedoms, etc. Rather than freeing anyone, the corporations begin to oppress the people (even more). The main problem I have with corporations is the power they have.
  • Perhaps I didn't express myself clearly. You are absolutely correct. The "heavy entry cost" I was referring to is the licensing and construction bonding BS that goes on with the FCC. I agree that if the FCC were to drop this nonsense, starting a radio station would be a snap, and big media would have less of a lever in money.

    Plus, if you are existing on advertising dollars, it takes heavy upkeep to run those salesman out to get those dollars. The day of the "on commission" salesdroid is just about over in our neck of the woods. DOL regs about such are getting stiffer, and in our area nobody is dumb enough to take anybody up on a commission position.

    I think the FCC's involvement in radio shold be limited to interference and frequncy assignment, and let the station owners fight it out in the market.

  • Such as http://www.nomediakings.org and, of course, moi.


  • "Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands... The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature.

    The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education) . It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights."

    - Albert Einstein

  • Agreed.

    I second the motion.

    Any objections?

    All say, "Aye"

    There .. that was easy :)
  • Does anyone else remember this Onion story [theonion.com]?


  • According to neo-classical (aka what is usually taught now) microeconomics, competition exists even in a monopolized market. Mainly, the fear of entry of another firm, which could compete with the monopoly, will force the monopoly to act like a firm in a competitive market.

    Of course, this doesn't really hold true in industries with high costs of entry (the lines for electricity regulation, lines for cable, etc.). Nor do some of us believe it really works in general either...
  • Obviously a lot of people on slashdot have a natural distaste for corporations, and the grey areas marched into daily it seems. But somebody has to write the policy and press releases and actually make the executive decisions. So why would a person make a decision? By the time a person has the power to make such decisions, they're presented with stock options, provided they didnt start the job with them. Either way, stock options are an executive staple. So decisions are made in the hopes of edging up that stock price enough to eventually cash in and leave the horrible job, maybe to start your own job, maybe to be a VC, or maybe to become an investor yourself.

    At the same time, many a slashdotters it seems have enjoyed the benefits of playing the stock market wisely. My point here is that everybody should take a deep look at themselves(myself included). The stock market is a large (but not only) factor in the corporate world. When you become an investor, what do you look for in a company? How do you determine what to invest (if you do) in? Reliable profit margins? Cost to earnings ratios? Potential for growth?

    If you don't "vote with your" money, so to speak, and just buy based what your broker tells you, or what you think brokers and mutual funds managers will like, then you're just adding to the "evil corporations" encroaching "your rights online" daily.

    My apologies to any poor slashdotters who have no options to exercise, money to invest, or don't feel that corporations are evil. And good for you.

  • by adubey ( 82183 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @06:59PM (#281087)
    Take your pick (listed in order of size by revenue):

    General Electric (owns NBC)

    AT&T (owns world's largest content delivery system, stake in portal/ISP excite@home, Liberty Media)

    NT&T (cable & telephone monopoly in Japan)

    Deutch Telekom (cable & telephone monopoly in Germany)

    AOL/TimeWarner (need I say anything?)



    Microsoft (2nd largest ISP/portal, partner in DreamWorks)

    Bertlesmann (publishing giant, Napster partner)

    News Corp (own Fox Networks, studio, magazines)

    BCE (owns canada's largest private network and biggest national newspaper along with satellite TV)

    OOPS that's more than 6 and I still haven't got to most of the newspaper companies, the radio company they mentioned in the article, or regional media firms (beleive it or not, you can't get ABC-NBC-CBS-Fox in Germany)

    Will someone please tell me which six they are talking about?

  • The FTC?

    They were busy ignoring the big Oil Mergers, Mobil/Exxon, BP/Amoco, Most of Shell US/Texaco (most people don't even know about this one). Those constitute the three biggest Energy mergers of all time and they all happened in the last 3-4 years.

    They were carefully looking the other way as Daimler bought up Chrysler and Ford and GM greatly expanded their International manufacturing assets.

    They were nowhere to be seen as unprecedented consolidation occurred in Rail/Transportation, Food Distribution, Agribusiness, Pharmaceuticals and just about every other business you can imagine.

    This all wouldn't have been possible had a Republican been President, the media would never have stood still for it. On the other hand, maybe the media has been silent because their corporate masters wanted to take advantage of the merger frenzy.

    People need to wake up to just how profoundly Clinton has sold out this country. Not just the Chinese and Marc Rich benefitted...


  • Did you know that there was a chance to buy AP in the '90s by a group which was backed by the same forces which want to take America down.

    Bin Ladin's people also own UPI if I'm not mistaken.

    If you would love to learn why USA is coming down read "The Lucifer Principle" by Bloom[check ebay]. It explains why the media is one small step in changing the meme that controls the society.

    Think of it as "Connections" [you know the show,] but about why socities fail and thrive. Just read the book and you'll see that when we merge a company into one larger company it sets us up for an outsider to topple it or frankly buy it.

  • This is a copy of an old post I made that got buried. It goes well with the CJR information, if anyone is interested in doing some research on the subject:

    Blame the Telecommunications Act of 1996 [loc.gov].
    SEC. 202. BROADCAST OWNERSHIP. (a) NATIONAL RADIO STATION OWNERSHIP RULE CHANGES REQUIRED- The Commission shall modify section 73.3555 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 73.3555) by eliminating any provisions limiting the number of AM or FM broadcast stations which may be owned or controlled by one entity nationally.....
    ...(c) TELEVISION OWNERSHIP LIMITATIONS- (1) NATIONAL OWNERSHIP LIMITATIONS- The Commission shall modify its rules for multiple ownership set forth in section 73.3555 of its regulations (47 C.F.R. 73.3555)-- (A) by eliminating the restrictions on the number of television stations that a person or entity may directly or indirectly own, operate, or control, or have a cognizable interest in, nationwide...
  • Should've added that the FCC has their own page [fcc.gov] on the act, which is more informative and less boring than reading the full text of the act itself. CJR's archives also have a 1997 article [cjr.org] reviewing year one of the '96 act.
  • OK, at the risk of starting a flamewar:

    how did these companies get so goddamn big? Your money. It's nice that some slashdotters posted links about who owns what, but will any of you grow the testicular fortitude to hold back your wallets? or perhaps use this most powerful medium, the internet, to protest? I didn't think so.

    The truth is, the internet is exactly the kind of tool that these companies fear, because it offers diversity of entertainment. why should I watch Friends or some other corny sitcom when netizens are making hundreds of way funnier sites and movies and jpegs, etc. Using the internet, not only do we have virtually unlimited options, but we can also bring to bear the minds of millions to a cause we feel just.

    P.S. I don't really mind having six or seven corporations, or whatever, personally. Doesn't bother me a bit, because they still can't force me to do anything. the only one with the legal use of physical force is the gov't. which is something you slashdotters should be outraged against. Companies may offer shitty options, but that's what they are, options. when the gov't steps in, there are no options but jail.

  • I'm hoping to God that that's a beautiful display of sarcasm :-)

    The reality is that there's not that much difficulty in finding decent content. The ever growing media conglomeration simply means we can expect an even less informed "masses" blathering on about the same mindless stuff in the background.

    Que Sera Sera.

    You people worry too much :-)

  • In an attempt to make sure that no one impersonates me and steals my identity on the web I have taken to not spell checking anything.

    I find this is easier than PGP incription and it will also make the job of the archeaoligists studying me in the coming decades much easier.
    ( that last part is a joke )

    It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word.
    --Andrew Jackson

  • Bwahaha - Try managing large scale organisation without going through large scale media :-)

  • next thing we know, life is going to be like one big long episode of "Max Headroom" that never ends.
    Heh. Who will have the "off switch" installed? ;)
  • FCC?? Ssnort! That snould be FTC

    Da Rabbit!
  • Yer muddling up Tomorrow Never Dies (evil media mogul with stealth boat) with The World is Not Enough (MI6 headquarters blows up, followed by boat chase). S'okay, most people jumble the movies up, because they all kind of run together.
  • Spare a thought for us poor Australians. We've only got a choice of two major media corporations.....

    Thats outside of the Government news service, but they wouldn't be biased, would they? ;)
  • Rollerball here we come. (Oh crap, they're remaking that, too. Can life get more scary?)
  • 20 minutes into the future...

    Let's have a show of hands. Who remembers?
  • Moderators who don't read any books/watch any movies should watch what they mod down as "troll." That said, somebody with mod points please take 5 seconds to read and consider this post [slashdot.org], which I'm quoting here:
    Monoliths have been directly linked to increases in weapon-making and violent clubbings, through studies on higher primates.

  • by human bean ( 222811 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @05:17PM (#281105)
    only to those that own one".

    It's a deplorable situation, but one that can be corrected. Curiously enough, the internet is one of the largest correcting factors, primarily because it is inherently two-way, and because the entry price is low.

    Media companies know this. I suspect it is one of the driving factors behind big media's push to make the internet "simpler", as they put it. More like, say, television.

    It's really hard to run an internet media company. After all, just about anybody can stand up and call bullshit on your stuff. They even seem to get a perverse satisfaction out of it.

    I suspect that in the future, though the media world will realign itself. Large media will probably become feeds for smaller local media that have local advertising concerns not large enough for the big boys to worry about. The key here is just like radio: Local, Local, Local. Local folks presenting local issues concerning the local area. This is awfully hard to do with big media. The availability of more distribution channels at a local level also makes it harder on them.

  • by Herger ( 48454 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @05:59PM (#281106) Homepage
    I heard on the radio that most people get their news from TV. The problem with mass media is that it still presents the "spin" of the owners and producers, and the fewer outlets there are, the fewer opinions there would be. TV news caters to the lowest common denominator anyways, and leans more to the left than I would rather see.

    I like Internet media. I enjoy reading Drudge Report and WorldNetDaily, which carry stories you won't see (first) in mainstream media. At the very least, it forces the mainstream media to catch up and cover some stories and opinions they wouldn't had wanted to. Here's hoping Internet media sites can survive, I think it's the closest we can get to "freedom of the press".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Those three notes in the NBC chimes... G-E-C Whooooo... GE, RCA and Westinghouse used to own NBC. Now just GE... and Westinghouse owns what, CBS? or did? And those GE TV sets you see are actually made by RCA, with just the name liscensed... But RCA is owned by Thomson, some horrid French company (really, the products are terrible!) And Viacom used to be owned by Paramount. It sucked. They spun it off, also because it was considered monopolistic. A VERY short time later, Viacom becomes so successful they can BUY paramount? And NOW it's not against anti-trust laws? W-T-F!? I won't trouble you with any more details, because they would.
  • "Big media corporations taking over the world and we'll all soon be in it's grip and yadda yadda yadda..."

    This is the same old kneejerk, Katzian song-and-dance that Slashdot seems to throw up every three months or so. There's one universal cure for big media corporations you don't like: Don't consume their product. Don't watch their movies or TV shows. Don't subscriibe to their ISPs or cable systems or online services or magazines. If you don't like what they produce, buy elsewhere. Or start your own company. If enough people boycott them, the power of the marketplace will force them to change their ways.

    What's that you say? Not enough people will boycott them? That they'll thrive despite your boycott? That people who don't share your views will continue to patronize their service? Well GOSH, how SHOCKING that those mindless lemmings would DARE to have opinions other than your own! How dare they use AOL and subscribe to Time-Warner Cable and eat at McDonalds and shop at WalMart despite all the times that you've told them how politically incorrect such actions are! How dare they put their own convienance and financial well-being above the superior opinions of the fashionable elite!

    Why, if those all those little people don't use their choices wisely, we'll just have to take those choices away from them! We'll just have to pass laws to tax large media congolomerates so we take money away from them and give it to government subsidized art that we, the politically correct ruling elite, judge to be superior. (Oh, wait. We already do that with PBS and the NEA.) We'll have to raise the taxes and fees passed on to the customers of media giants to punish them for making the wrong choice--just like we do for people who use tobacco. We'll have to file lawsuits against big media companies to drive them out of business--just like we're doing with the firearms industry. And if people still aren't using their freedom properly, we'll just have to outlaw bad media and throw its consumers in jail--just like we do with users of marijuana and cocaine. If we don't like what people choose, we'll just have to take that freedom away.


    Remember: Freedom of the press is for those who own one. If you don't like the choices available, go out and create your own. And if you work hard and make it a success, and AOL Time Warner Microsoft Beatrice comes along and says "Hey, Mr. Independent Press Guy, we'll pay you ten times what the book value of your company is worth and you can stop working those 80 hour weeks to clear 20K a year in profit so we can add you to our giant synergy machine," why, I'm SURE you'll turn all that money down. Just like Netscape did when AOL came calling. Just like Bungie did when Microsoft came calling.

    Look, all this bitching about the current round of media concentration is just short-sighted, ahistorical whining that ignores the huge diversification of media created by technology. Go back 30 years ago, and what did you have? Three major TV networks. Two major wire news services. (You had more newspapers, but by and large they got much of their national and international news from the same few sources.) One phone company. No cable TV. No internet. No Slashdot!

    And since then, look at the vast, technology-fueled growth in various forms of media:

    Cable TV, with thousands of possible channels to choose from, of which several dozen or more will be on any given cable system.

    Two competeing satelite TV firms, with hundreds of additional choices, many from around the world

    Three more broadcast networks

    Foriegn language channels

    For that matter, more foreign language newspapers available more places

    Tens of thousands of small press magazines fueled by the desktop publishing boom

    Thousands of independent record companies fueled by the CD boom

    Untold millions of websites, all available at a mouse click, thanks to computers and the internet.

    Thirty thousand newsgroups (even if half of them are for porn; and, for that matter:)

    Multitudes upon multitudes of adult videos and and porn sites where before there were dirty theaters and a handfull of skin mags (a vast number of choices, albeit of a particular type)


    FTP, Napster, Gneutella, and a thousand other file sharing programs that keep popping up no matter how hard they tru to shut them down

    Et. Frigging Cetera.

    So, in short, stop whining. You have more media choices available to you than any other people at any point in the history of mankind.

  • For now, you are absolutely right.

    Radio got that way due to the heavy entry and upkeep costs on a radio station. Big media wants this, it allows them to use their money as that extra lever.

    That said, you ought to see the penetration statistics on LLL style radio broadcasts. Yep, folks keep the office radio tuned to sat-fed pop-rock (musak with commercials) because they're trying not to offend, or simply because they can't / don't want to think about it, but if you are out trying to get the local opinion leaders in a market nailed, then you can do worse than real local radio.

    I suspect the real change will come when computers become capable of inexpensive content filtering. At that point, the advertisement becomes much less a revenue factor, and content provision becomes king. Yes, it will probably mean a shift in funding sources and role for media providers, but hey, what ever happened to horse-carriage makers?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @06:10PM (#281111)
    Here [stanford.edu] is a good summary of what one company has done to muck up radio stations in the San Francisco Bay Area as a result of the 1995 legislation.
  • by popular ( 301484 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @06:10PM (#281112) Homepage
    Aside from its size, the apparent unprofitability of the Internet also helps keep big business from owning *too much* of it...


  • by Trepalium ( 109107 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2001 @09:08PM (#281115)
    BCE (owns canada's largest private network and biggest national newspaper along with satellite TV)
    Actually, both BCE (which owns Sympatico internet service, the CTV television network, a mini-satellite network, and a bunch of newspapers), and CanWest Global (which owns the 'Global' television network, a dizzying number of newspapers (or just has major interest in some), movies and many other ventures) had been recently investigated by the CRTC as part of their license renewal because of the fact there is some concern that these companies hold far too much control over the media and this threatens both the depth of coverage of stories as well as the objectiveness of the journalists covering them.

    All of us rely on journalists to tell us the objective truths, and I know it's more than a little disconcerting to see journalists write a 'story' that is nothing more than a parroting of a company's press release. There is simply just too much information and things happening out there for any one person to do their own research to find the events occurring. However, with the continued conglomeration of the media, honest journalistic practices are being replaced with nothing more than ratings grabbing, where a story that embarrasses a politician or other public feature gets a more thorough investigation and coverage than the things that will really affect all our lives.

  • Actually, both BCE (which owns Sympatico internet service, the CTV television network, a mini-satellite network, and a bunch of newspapers), and CanWest Global (which owns the 'Global' television network, a dizzying number of newspapers (or just has major interest in some), movies and many other ventures) had been recently investigated by the CRTC as part of their license renewal because of the fact there is some concern that these companies hold far too much control over the media and this threatens both the depth of coverage of stories as well as the objectiveness of the journalists covering them.

    The problem is worse when the State-owned CBC [cbc.ca] is told by politicos to become more "profitable", then start to copycat the private media stations, and start competing for a bigger share of the advertising market. So, the State television becomes more like a whorthless popular pap provider like private networks than quality content provider for the minority of people who really understand culture (and are the only people who really matter - as opposed to the masses of corporate fare-sucking unwashed consumer hordes).

    Interestingly, the people the most opposed to tha increase of advertising share are the private broadcasters; they're the most vocal in wanting to keep the CBC a State-operated network so it won't intrude too much in their lucrative advertising.

    But it seems it still won't please the likes of Konrad Black [nationalpost.com], who would like the State minimized to the point that it solely looks at Konrad's interests (as long as Konrad doesn't pay any taxes for it), so Konrad keeps his crusade [nationalpost.com] to destroy the State as much as possible, especially if it won't let him be anointed [canoe.ca].


  • Could some people be kind enough to point us to some web sites for independent media? Whether for TV or Radio stations, magazines, newspapers, or just independent web news sites - any would be fine.

    What better way to combat this this eventual conglomeration into the International OneMedia Corp than to start spreading the word about the small independent media?
  • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Thursday April 19, 2001 @07:28AM (#281123) Journal
    The narrowing of radio options is reasonable when you consider the technology of radio. There is no way to reasonably target micro-niches with radio, as a broadcast medium that is not on-demand or interactive. It is tough to prove the details about who is listening. The radio stations with the largest audience (in a wide demographic) can charge the most for advertising.

    So the natural evolution of things is to consolidate stations of similar musical taste, and eventually the stations within a local area will become "orthogonal." Their listenership is determined by the fact that listeners of one station will probably enjoy none or few of the other stations.

    For instance, in DC, we have one dancy/uptempo pop station, one urban-rap-pop soul station, one crunchy/grungy modern rock station, one old-school-rock station, and a mix station. I usually listen to the dancy station, and rarely listen to the others. We might have a country station, but I'm 100% orthogonal to that myself :)

    Radio broadcast is, by definition, a mass-broadcast-medium. You need large audiences to make it pay off. So you need to not only consolidate audiences over a single city's spectrum, but over multiple cities.

    Now where does regulation come in? Spectrum should be auction-leased by the FCC for whatever use the leaser would like (AM/FM/digital/cellular/etc.). The auction would determine the true value of the spectrum leased. That would move "cellular" Internet (such as Ricochet) forward.

    In the end, our dream of a 20 independent stations per FM band is not possible unless the government runs the radio stations. However, we have the reality of a limitless number of Internet radio stations. I never listen to radio at home, only Shoutcast. I'd love to listen in my car, but there is no high-speed ubiquitous wireless Internet service in DC yet.

    Let's also keep in mind that satellite radio [xmradio.com] will launch this year to give us 100 stations spanning an incredible variety of musical tastes: jazz, gospel, tejano, caribbean, rock en espanol, christian adult, christian teen, techno, not to mention the PBS News Hour, CSPAN, NASCAR, BBC World Service, etc.
  • Don't forget the "bad guy" telling the head of the Operating System division to leave the major bugs in, so the customers will have to upgrade next year to get them fixed.

  • I think you might be SomeoneIDoKnow -- you sound a lot like my sister, who worked in radio for many, many, many years (unprofitable ones, too, but that's another story).

    I, too, have spent some time in solitary cueing carts. I was way down the totem, but I do know a bit about local radio and how unprofitable it is without a conglomeration.

    However, I don't think there's anything sacred or holy in localy owned radio or newspaper, or indeed anything. The local radio station is just as likely to suck as any other station (except for college stations -- they all, universally, suck. But that's my opinion) In the end, the market will decide how stations fare. If you don't happen to agree with the market (and the market can be a fickle mistress, to be sure), you can roll your own station to suit yourself (with an MP3 player), start your own station (and run it, profitless, for a couple of months before you're forced to adopt one or another playlist in order to get advertisers and eventually sell to Clear Channel because they can sell ad time for you and you can go back to being a DJ, until they fire you. And if you're any good, the Arbitron book will reflect that the audience liked you, and Clear Channel will either hire you back, or another conglomerate will).

    Look, the market doesn't guarantee you anything but a chance to compete. It doesn't guarantee success. And, it so happens that conglomerating stations makes those stations competitive. What are you going to do about it? Regulate? The same thing will happen, only this time it requires the conglomerates to pay off the regulators, a cost that gets passed down to advertisers (who won't be able to afford it), and thus fewer stations playing more of the same dreck.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

A computer without COBOL and Fortran is like a piece of chocolate cake without ketchup and mustard.