Yeah, yeah, yeah. I haven't posted here in quite awhile, except for the occassional Get Out of Town rant that I read on KRRO. But I just have to babble a bit tonight. Thanks to Michael Powell, the concept of democracy has died a bit today. Think I'm overreacting? I'm not; and all you have to do is look at the media blackout over the FCC story to prove that point.

In case you're one of the millions who don't know what I'm talking about, today the FCC voted to expand the deregulation that began with 1996's Telecom remember that one don't you? Led by our worst Senator of all time, Larry Pressler, that bill led to the rise of Clear Channel and Viacom and national playlists. Accompanied by a blind eye to monopolistic company-grabbing in the entertainment biz, we now get almost all of our music and news from a handful of companies.

I know what you're asking - how does this tie in with democracy? The fact that a handful of companies own the media affects the quality and quantity of the news you and I receive everyday. To borrow a cliche, the media is supposed to work as a watchdog of the government. When the number of media outlets is limited, one never sees the full picture...or can trust the media to provide us with the full picture.

Look at how this controversy was wasn't, outside of some token network mentions and a series of interviews on NPR. Of course they didn't cover the story. Rupert Murdoch and his Fox conglomerate looks to greatly profit from this decision, and we all know they don't have the public's best interests in mind. CBS and UPN are owned by Viacom, along with a ton of radio stations, and they also look to become an even bigger company. I could go on down the line, but even the few remaining independantly owned radio and tv stations will stand to profit by selling out. So the decision was made to not report the story...what the public doesn't know won't hurt them, after all.

And it's my belief that it also will hurt the economy. A good case can be made that the problems in the music industry have more to do with Clear Channel then Napster and Kazaa. Less music is being aired than ever before, and most of what does get radio and tv airplay are media company creations that are tolerated more than enjoyed. Look what happens when an artist does speak out - the Dixie Chicks scandal was not the grass roots campaign that was was a Clear Channel-controlled backlash designed to get on the good side of Bush and his buddies.

Take a look at the war coverage - while one was to expect Fox to bang the war drums, none of the other news outlets dared to criticize Bush or the war effort. Even the slightest non-positive newspaper headline was treated as a Communist plot.

I especially loved Powell's often-babbled line that "new media" outlets make the old rules unnecessary and anti-business. Obviously, he's talking about the internet but take a look at who the major players are in the online community. It's many of the same companies, and it's my prediction that the Wild West mentality of the web will be tamed within the next few years. And there's also one major difference - the majority of citizens stil get all of their news the old-fashioned way; from newspapers, television, and the radio. It's a passive environment; you get in your car and the radio is on or you come home and turn on the television. Even the best-known internet news sites take a bit more of an effort; finding non-mainstream views takes even more work.

On a lighter, but on-topic, note, check out this week's South Park, which deals with the inanity of not only the pro-war crowd but the peaceniks. Of course, they both end up singing a rewritten version of Donny and Marie's "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock 'n' Roll".


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