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Making U.S. Media Public Again:

Howell Hurst Uncategorized

October 15, 2015

No American presidential candidate can provide a truly public-friendly administration so long as 90% of our media is controlled by gigantic corporate owners. Time Warner, Disney, and Murdox’s News Corporation are the top three. Their editorial priority of what to report as news has shifted from objectivity and accuracy to what will make them a profit. What we learn from our media is energetically filtered by wealthy special interests.

About fifty years ago, America’s public media were owned by some fifty smaller more locally-funded corporations; our media were indeed much more Public. Now those mentioned, allegedly competing, actually collaborate with one another. Theirs, one might propose, is an effective and efficient monopoly.

1996 was when the Federal Communication Commission stopped protecting our public media. Laws were passed allowing these giant conglomerates to take control. We, the public, lost our public voice. PBS, the Public Broadcasting System, cannot alone adequately provide the varied comprehensive local news we need to be really informed about vital matters impacting our lives. That inadequacy fogs our judgment.

Ben Bagdikian, in his book “The New Media Monopoly” argues for the repeal or revision of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which created the current media situation in America. Since the interlocked relationship of the companies is difficult to unravel, they surely argue against this. However, since many other U.S. industries have also grown into oligarchies via direct destruction of smaller privately owned companies, I suspect Bagdikian is entirely correct on this issue.

Therefore, I would suggest that Americans who value their once publicly nurtured democracy and the freedom it offered ought to care who owns the media. They should support a presidential candidate who will work to break up the media cabal and return our media to locally-funded owners. I am glad to run, literarily speaking, on this as an extremely vital issue.

That, of course, demands an involved public. It is admittedly difficult for any presidential candidate to promise progress on this issue until the American public takes seriously its role as the ultimate source of democracy, stops simply accepting the news “as is,” and gets onboard a movement to regain control of their media.

Do Americans really understand how limited a journalistic viewpoint is offered by the big three? I doubt it. And if not, they might ask themselves why, after the first Democratic debate, all media have claimed that Hilary was clearly their only really viable Democratic candidate for the presidency. Does that sound like a free press to you?

It does not to me. I smell subtly interlocked self-interest. This needs looking into by the next president – if he or she can acquire public support. This is an issue the American public should be demanding, instead of nightly watching the latest sitcom with their dinner plate on their knee, and visiting frequently a six pack in the fridge.

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