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.