Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Howard Dean Is Right About Big Media

It's refreshing to hear Howard Dean, a major political figure in America, speaking out against Big Media. How many mainstream politicans or commentators have you ever heard citing the ever-diminishing numbers of major media owners, and their ever-expanding reach?

This is one of the biggest issues in America, and one of the most fateful in the continuing story of freedom and liberal democracy. We're nearly down to a handful of corporations being responsible for over 90% of media outreach. This has clear dangers, of which I will not repeat in this post, but have been venting on for awhile (I'll find those posts and link to them a bit later).

Say what you will about Howard Dean, his stance against the war in Iraq, his prior record as governor, but his campaign is hitting new strides. For over a decade, respected independent commentators such as Ben Bagdikian have been warning us about massive media consolidation and concentration of ownership (even more enabled now with the innovation of convergence). This has got practically no mainstream press exposure (for obvious reasons).

It's time we do something about it. For all of us in America, for our peace of mind and security of liberty and conscience, for the freedom of information, we should welcome Howard Dean's championing of this issue, and recommend that he go ahead and break up Big Media. No media company should have more than 25% market penetration, let alone the absurd 38-39% that is being tossed around today (as a compromise!).

Also, we should try and determine a way to ensure this media diversity and distributed ownership by how we structure the rules, and not merely by keeping an eye on a magic number like 25% or 39% and assuring none go past. This would mean tax incentives and other measures to ensure greater entrepreneurial investment and ownership in media, especially of the local variety, where possible, and falling back on our magic numbers when we experience natural barriers to that, such as are found in the finite bandwidth of push media in television and radio.