Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Saturday, December 20, 2003
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At Murdoch's Mercy


The Federal Communications Commission yesterday conditionally approved the News Corporation's acquisition of control of Hughes Electronics and its DirecTV subsidiary from General Motors.

The approval, by a vote of 3 to 2, removes the final obstacle to a $6.6 billion media megamerger that will combine the DirecTV satellite television service with News Corporation's Fox studios, pay television networks like Fox News and Speed, its Fox broadcast channel and 35 local stations. News Corporation, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, will become the only media conglomerate with such broad offerings and national reach. Time Warner also combines studios, cable and broadcast networks and cable systems, but it does not own local stations and its cable systems reach only certain parts of the country. The deal is expected to close within days.

Super. We're a DirecTV customer, and now Rupert Murdoch has even more control over what we can see. Although now that I think about it, I seem to be watching very little (American) TV lately--could it be because there's nothing on?


[Update: did some digging in the archives, and found this from 11/26:

Rupert Murdoch yesterday hailed a compromise between the White House and Senate Republicans on how many TV stations companies like his News Corp. could own.
The provision would allow a company to own local television stations reaching 39 percent of the nation's TV homes, a level just above what Fox parent News Corp. and CBS parent Viacom already own.

That would be lower than the 45-percent limit the Federal Communications Commission adopted in June but higher than the old 35-percent cap that negotiators for the House and Senate had agreed in conference to restore.

As I said back then: "It might only be 4%, but it's one more little attempt to chip away at our democracy." And that's just it: these teeny things accumulate to be a threat. Little demands submitted in installments to the vanquished.

I mentioned a couple things in comments that I'll bring to your attention here. First, something Howard Dean said on his appearance on Hardball a couple weeks ago:

I would say that there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country. We need locally-owned radio stations. There are only two or three radio stations left in the state of Vermont where you can get local news anymore. The rest of it is read and ripped from the AP.
[I]f the state has an interest, which it does, in preserving democracy, then there has to be a limitation on how deeply the media companies can penetrate every single community. To the extent of even having two or three or four outlets in a single community, that kind of information control is not compatible with democracy.

And please read all of Bill Moyers' excellent Essay on the Media and Democracy:

I keep coming back to the subject of media conglomeration because it can take the oxygen out of democracy. The founders of this country believed a free and rambunctious press was essential to the protection of our freedoms. They couldn't envision the rise of giant megamedia conglomerates whose interests converge with state power to produce a conspiracy against the people. I think they would be aghast at how this union of media and government has produced the very kind of imperial power against which they rebelled...[T]his is the most important story of all, the one that determines what other stories get told - and how.

Unfettered access to information is the oxygen of democracy. I'd like to avoid asphyxiation, thank you.]

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Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards

A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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