Essay: Media Consolidation: Issues and Ethics the Market

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¶ … Media consolidation: Issues and ethics

"The market structures of commercial mass media in the first decade of the 21st century have moved far from atomistic competition in the direction of oligopoly and monopolistic competition" (Blosser 2010, p. 14). In the interests of freedom of speech, it might seem as if less regulation invariably promotes more free and open discourse. However, in the case of media consolidation, this is not the case. If only a few large media conglomerates dominate the airwaves because of their ability to purchase 'time' on most of the major channels, no matter how many channels consumers may have as listening options, they will invariably find themselves limited in their range of choices of differing points-of-view. Media consolidation means that only a few large corporations control what faces are seen reporting the news, whose voices get to be expressed and heard, and whose stories get to be told. Media consolidation results in the validation of what seems like a 'mainstream' voice, even though the true mainstream may simply not be seen on the airwaves: an anti-corporate, non-white, or critical vision seems less mainstream when it receives exposure only on 'niche' forms of media.

One positive act of legislation was to mandate equal time on the airwaves for all the major candidates, to ensure that the wealthiest candidate would not be the most listened-to candidate. "The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, called for stations to offer 'equal opportunity' to all legally qualified political candidates running for office," ("The Fairness Doctrine, 2003, PBS). However, the influence of the Act is dwarfed by the fact that major news outlets, such as Fox, often promote particular candidates, and dominate not simply one or two channels, but an empire of channels. Through careful placement of certain news stories, it is possible to promote a candidate without explicitly giving him or her official 'time.'

Regulating monopolies in a capitalist system is far from unprecedented -- for example, 'trust-busting' was and is a common consumer protection, to ensure that one industry does not becomes so dominant and consumers have little choice in terms of price leverage. And… [END OF PREVIEW]

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