Tempest In A Teapot

So the FCC has decided to relax ownership rules on major media outlets meaning that one company can control 45% of a given market rather than 35%. The truth is, while various groups are complaining that such a relaxation will result in less diversity in the media, the reality seems far different.

In reality, the rules change will make scarce little difference. They would have been removed by court action anyway, and the results of that scenario could have been more chaotic. Controls on the media market are as often self-defeating as any other market. Instead of regulating the media concentration, a real path to diversity would be in reducing the barriers to entry, such a opening up more spectrum to small operators. This way, it wouldn’t be just large corporations taking over marketshare.

The Internet is a prime example of this. There are no ownership rules on the Internet for the most part. Large corporations such as AOL/TW and Microsoft have large presences and spend millions of dollars while small operators such as Matt Drudge and Glenn Reynolds give them a run for their money with little more than hard work and a keyboard. The reason why this situation exists is that there’s no regulatory climate to prevent the little guy from getting into the market. Anyone with server space and some ingenuity can get in on the game.

For the most part, Powell is right. Technological change is a constant challenge to media consolidation, as the Internet shows. While the FCC would not have been entirely out of line in keeping the rules, their relaxation will be unlikely to have any major effect on the media in the US.

One thought on “Tempest In A Teapot

  1. I remember a time when conservatives used to think competition was a good thing. We still hear it on a daily basis in regards to the “desperately needed influence of private competitive enterprise in education”. Of course, public education contributes to the Democrats, while multi-billion dollar media conglomarates contribute more generously to the GOP. I guess oligopoly is fine so long as you don’t support the “other guys” while Republicans let you get away with it.

    Previous deregulation efforts have made listening to radio a positively painful experience in the last five years. Ultimately, it’s the conglomerates that have taken over radio stations and drown listeners into narrow and numbingly repetitive playlists who are more responsible for declining record sales in the music industry than Napster, the recession or any of the other of the bonanza of excuses made to justify music fans responding with a collective yawn when at the record store. Only conservatives who stand to get millions of dollars more from media moguls in the event of further consolidation would suggest this is a trend that should be expanded upon.

    If there’s a possible way to muck up a society that conservatives have yet to discover, you can bet they will find it soon.

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