Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Media deregulation

Here's a long piece on Murdoch's News Corp, filtered through the meaning behind recent FCC decisions (which I believe were overturned by Congress) to relax media ownership concentration rules. It's short on numbers and ends, as these things often do, with an impassioned plea for the government to make rules that will make everything better.

It does compare News Corp's size against Viacom, Disney, GE, and AOL Time Warner, pointing out that Fox is by far the smallest. Other than that, it's a rehash of topics other articles (including ones on this blog) have covered a long time ago. Powell puts forward the basic argument for relaxation, that since competition between the Internet, radio, TV, cable, and satellite is fiercer now than it was in the 50s (when the rules were set) it makes sense to relax them now. The opposition comes in two flavors 1) incumbent media (usually statist) arguing that it might help Fox so it is bad and 2) fringe groups arguing that a more market-centric distribution network would give them less of a soapbox. Powell summed them up as "I see too much of what I don't like" or "I see too little of what I like."

The article's author is also shocked, shocked to learn that Murdoch plays nice with politicians when trying to further his business interests. I don't know what to say to that.

A buddy of mine brought up media deregulation with me the other day and we found that we disagreed on almost every point. That's OK, but I think I was the first person he had spoken with who held my views, whereas I had heard his arguments many times before. Whether or not he changes his opinion, I'm glad that he was able to hear the arguments for deregulation at least once, and I guess that's the sort of "fair and balanced" news coverage people hope other people will get (our own views, are, of course, already well founded and correct).

Also from The Atlantic is this nice article on diversity and how little of it we seem to choose. I think it's worth pointing out that local diversity creates widespread homogeneity, and local homogeneity creates widespread diversity. If you can get cuisine from all over the world in your local area then your life is pretty great, but there isn't much separating your area foodwise from any other area, so things look bland from a distance even though they are varied close-up. Alternatively, if each region only serves its local food, then your life close-up is pretty unvaried, but from a distance there is a great variety of options.

Similarly, this article speculates that although neighbourhoods tend not to be very diverse, maybe people go through many different types of neighbourhoods through their lives and get their diversity that way.

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