If this is a monopoly, when do I pass ‘go’?

If this is a monopoly, when do I pass ‘go’?
: Unlike many others here in the Blogopolis — take, for example, Prof. Lawrence Lessig — I am not all hopped up and full of fret over media concentration.

I wonder whether Larry and his confederates had a problem with media because their parents thwopped them about the nose with a rolled-up newspaper when they were young. Whatever the cause, Lessig, for one, does have a thing for media. He wants copyrights to be limited. And he wants media companies’ rights to own media properties to be limited by government regulation.

Now when discussion turns to media deregulation and concentration, I have a clear conflict of interest: I work in media; I’ve worked for some of the biggest.

But I also have been a victim of media concentration. When I started Entertainment Weekly, various Time Warner editors and executives (all long since gone) tried to lighten up my coverage of entertainment in an entertainment company (and I stood firm against them, as any self-respecting journalist would).

Having delivered all those caveats, I have to say that I do not fear media concentration.

Thanks to digital delivery of content and greater bandwidth on which to deliver it and thanks to new easy and inexpensive tools for making it, there are far more media choices today than there were 10 or 20 years ago; there is much more competition and more coming; and the barrier to entry into media is lowered to ground level, which will bring in an endless variety of new voices.

Yes, there are fewer newspapers (because of competition from new media). Sure, it’s still hard to get a movie made. But there are many times more TV stations. There are many more opportunities to consume media that used to disappear (that is, you can watch the DVD).

And there is the Internet. It not only provides new ways to produce media and reach audience the world around. It is also disrupting existing media businesses. There’s plenty of competition, plenty of choice, plenty of change.

Considering my conflict, I won’t engage in a lengthy argument on the issue. I just want to make one point:

The opponents of deregulation, those paranoid about media ownership, are missing the big change in the media business that’s right under their noses, right in front of their faces, right here where they argue it over: The Internet.

  • Randy

    There are many times more TV stations, but mostly when they’re not just regurgitating network feeds they’re showing ads for home gyms. You can listen to 90-100% of radio stations in a metro area and yet hear nothing but Clear Channel’s point of view. Local production of programming, especially news, declines in consolidated markets. And they’re threathening to allow *more* consolidation.
    Consolidation worries liberals because the Digital Divide does exist. City voters (like those that can make SFO and LAX outweigh the votes of the remainder of California and swing the state liberal) that don’t have the knowledge or resources to route around a consolidated media owner’s presentation of “truth” will be influenced through saturated repetition. What would your world view be if all your news was sourced from just CNN or just Fox, and how would that influence your vote?

  • http://www.oliverwillis.com Oliver

    Yup, because when the media conglomerates control the gateways to the net – they’re not going to corrupt it at all…

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