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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.