Obama's FCC Intends To OK Unlimited Concentration of Radio, TV, Newspaper Ownership in Top 20 Markets
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon
Imagine a US media landscape even more viciously unfair, more drastically tilted to favor greedy, irresponsible and immensely powerful media corporations than the one we already have. It would be quite a feat of imagination, but the Obama administration's FCC has done it for us, and intends to make it real.
The Federal Communications Commision is now considering a measure that will remove the few remaining limits on how many radio and TV stations and newspapers giant media companies are allowed to operate in a single market. Apparently, President Obama believes that we need even fewer wealthy corporations to control what we see, hear, and are allowed to broadcast to each other.
It's no surprise that broadcast media are not reporting this story. Corporate media never cover stories that reveal the extent of their own vast power and privilege in our supposedly “democratic” system. What is shocking, however is that President Obama's FCC Commissioner Julius Genakowski intends to push this measure through in what amounts to a secret meeting, with little or no chance for public input and not even the least pretense of transparency, before Xmas.
Bush's FCC tried the same thing back in 2007. They were stopped by two factors. The first was a federal court ruling that said shrinking the number of companies that own newspapers, TV and radio stations would lessen the already scant presence of media owners who were women and minorities. The second factor was a firestorm of public disapproval. The American people, left, right, black, brown, and white simply don't believe that a handful of giant media entities should have even more control over what they see, hear and can say to each other.
It's hard to understand at first glance, why the Obama administration would try something this blatantly evil, that flies directly in the face of federal court orders and explicitly kicks sand in the faces of many who supported him in 2008 and 2012.
But let's take another look. Suppose the Obama administration convinces a segment of minority media owners to accept some crumbs and withdraw their objection to fewer giant companies owning more of our media universe. A move like that would take the federal court and minority broadcasters out of the picture, and with them, most of the black and Latino advocacy organizations like the NAACP, who really don't answer to ordinary black and brown people on the street, but who do pay very close attention to what black and brown business people like the minority broadcasters have to say.
With the federal court out of the way, most of the traditional advocacy organizations sidelined, and corporate media not reporting the story anyhow, the Obama administration may think it can deliver to Fox Media, to Rupert Murdoch, to NBC-Universal, to Disney and CBS what the Bush administration could not ---- the legal license to lock down and monopolize the top 20 media markets by owning multiple radio, TV and newspaper properties. What George W. Bush could not deliver for Big Media at the expense of the people, Barack Obama intends to.
The US political system channels almost all grassroots activism into electing corporate candidates. Most of the preachers and others who marshaled support for the president's re-election all the while swearing to hold his feet to the fire are off somewhere right now not paying attention, simply because the election is over, and getting out the vote is all they every do, all they've ever done. It's time for something old school, something completely different. If Dr. King were around today, he'd say it's time to make some noise, time to disobey some unjust laws, until the law, and things in general get better.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be contacted via this site's “contact” page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.