Free Press, Licensing, Corporations And Net Neutrality

This is the concept of Net Neutrality that is under fire from the current FCC (3 minutes). From 2015:

The current president (who, thanks to his own Secretary of State, should be referred to as the Effing Moron) caused quite a stir last week when he stated that:

 “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” 

This tweet drew immediate backlash for several reasons. For one thing it further cemented his reputation as a moron. This tweet also showed that he has no clue how media runs in this country, nor does he have a clue what the first amendment to the constitution says.

Just to be clear, networks are not licensed but individual stations are. In a long ago period individual stations could lose their licenses for not serving their area. What was meant by “serving” was generally thought to be covering local news, groups and events. That was pretty much destroyed under Reagan and the criteria for a TV or radio station keeping their license was basically paying their bills and not running obscene material.

Ownership rules were also greatly relaxed. At one time the FCC was concerned about one media company controlling news in one area so the number of TV, radio and newspaper outlets per company was limited. That has been greatly relaxed over the decades to the point where we now have just a few media corporate conglomerates controlling news across the country.

While most of us tend to think of the major networks as the biggest players in the corporate media game there are a few others that are making some big waves below the surface. The major players most think of are Disney (ABC et al.), Comcast-NBC-Universal, CBS (which is tied in with Viacom and Sumner Redstone), Fox, and Time-Warner. Each of these are huge media corporations which include everything from newspapers to TV stations, studios and movie companies.

A few players that are making big waves are Sinclair Broadcasting which, should the FCC agree, will soon own TV stations in 75% of the country due to a purchase from Tribune Company. Another player that continues to cover much of the country despite financial problems is Clear Channel. Although Clear Channel is currently under control of Bane Capital (yes that Bane Capital) it still penetrates most of the country with its radio ownership.

All that is to say that in the traditional media of TV, radio, newspapers and magazines there are only only a few major players. Since they control media, they also control the messages that come from their media. 

The one media they currently do not control is the internet. As we have mentioned here many, many times one of the most important ramifications of electing a Republican as president is what direction the country will take in the handling of of the internet. Once the outcome was known, we also pretty well knew what direction the internet would go.

Ajit Pai was reinstalled as the head of the FCC last week. Pai has made little secret that he wants to turn the internet over to corporate interests to run. The language of the order will be populated with phrases that sound like neutrality, but the reality will be corporate control. The reality in a few short years will begin to look like the cable TV that so many Americans are abandoning in droves.

The following is a discussion of tech giants in today’s world (4 minutes):

What is interesting is that while traditional media corporations have been attacking net neutrality hard for a decade or more, new giant corporations have grown in the new tech world. These corporations come with their own agenda. But they are the same as other corporations in that their main focus is to dominate their portion of the industry.

Therefore as we close in on the Effing Moron’s tenth month in office we see a media that is slowly being shaped into that should bring a fright to us this Halloween. We see a media being slowly shaped into a something more compliant to the administration. The bullying has had some effect.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like it on the outside, yet when you listen to the stories on the environment or civil rights or filling the courts with extreme right wing judges or a budget that will cut safety nets to tens of millions, you hear little criticism. Just normalization and an unwillingness to confront these issues.

We also see an internet about to be shaped by corporate interests – the very same that have suppressed real news on radio and TV for decades. We also see the rise of the new tech giants that are adopting the old corporate values of suppressing competition.

The reason behind the first amendment was to keep the government from controlling news and opinion. Yet if we put corporate interests in control of the media and the corporate interests coincide with an entrenched governmental aristocracy (or oligarchy if you prefer) that the media helped elect what is the difference? One only need to look at the media behavior in 2016 to see how that happens.

Almost as if on cue, an Indiana legislator has introduced a bill in Indiana’s legislature to license reporters. Can’t wait to see the process for that one.  The state police would do the licensing.

Let us hope the future is not as bleak as I have portrayed. Recent history would suggest that we are not.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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