Term Paper: Media Ownership

Pages: 5 (1473 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication - Journalism  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The journalists and station managers in the local Fox TV affiliate are producing less and less of the news segments seen in Madison's Fox channel. Instead, these news and commentary segments are produced in "NewsCentral," a centralized communications production station operated by Sinclair. The same news segments and commentaries are piped to all the local affiliates, from Madison, Wisconsin to Flint, Michigan to Rochester, NY (Schmelzer).

Proponents of the NewsCentral approach argue that this is an efficient way to bring news coverage into local markets which would not otherwise be able to support its own news channels. However, it also has another effect. First, as Schmelzer points out, there is the danger that news that is important to the local communities will not get covered. This means that vital issues such as school reform, local pollution and local graft will not be deemed as "newsworthy," because they only apply to small segments of the market.

Second, the centralization of media ownership and the production of news means that smaller voices could be shut out of the marketplace of ideas. Instead of smaller media outlets being able to bring diverse interpretations and studies of news events, news broadcasts and articles would be increasingly produced in one giant, centralized newsroom. In equating efficiency with profit, the centralized news approach thus paves the way for a few large corporate interests to dominate the news and information market.

In addition to homogenization, the concentration of media ownership gives rise to a more insidious effect -- censorship. Increasingly, censorship is being done not by a government entity, by corporate parent groups and by smaller media outlets themselves.

Researchers Martin Gilens and Craig Hetzman, for example, have studied the links between corporate ownership and news coverage, by looking at how various news outlets have covered the 1996 Telecommunications Act. This controversial act involved the loosening of FCC restrictions on television ownership, and was an important catalyst to the growth of media conglomerates. Most significantly, this legislation removed the "caps" in television ownership, allowing parent companies to buy up smaller markets (Gilens and Hertzman).

Gilens and Hertzman found that corporate newspaper owners were able to influence not only the editorials but also the straight news coverage relating the Telecommunications Act. The authors found a strong relationship between the financial interests of the owners and the news coverage. Thus, newspapers with no television holdings had largely negative news coverage of the Telecommunications Act. However, newspapers with television holdings and therefore stood to benefit from the new law had favorable coverage, both in news and in the opinion segments (Gilens and Hertzman).

In 2002, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took the centralization of media one step further, with a proposal to deregulate media ownership. Critics have called this proposal one of the "most radical restructuring" of media laws in the country's history. The new regulations propose the expansion of the ownership cap on television stations from 35% to 45%. A single company could thus own a greater number of local television and radio stations, even within the same market. Finally, the proposal would overturn the current ban on cross-ownership of newspapers, television and radio stations within a single market area ("FCC loosens restrictions...").

This new law has far-reaching consequences on the way news and information gets produced and disseminated. Since this proposal further paves the way for greater media centralization and ownership, one of the results would be a greater adoption of the "NewsCentral" approach. Also, since more news outlets will be beholden to corporate interests, it is also likely that the orientation of news programs will be to promote the interests of its corporate parents. This has disturbing implications for the concept of public information, particularly when the public's right to know comes into conflict with the interests of corporate media owners.

Works Cited

"FCC Loosens Restrictions on Big Media Ownership." 6 June 2003. Articles. Changing the Channel. 17 Oct 2004 .

Hertman, Craig,, and . "Corporate Ownership and News Bias." Journal of Politics May 2000. ProQuest. Earthlink. Los Angeles Public Library. 17 Oct 2004

Jackman, John. "What are the effects on democracy." 2004. Changing the Channels. Changing the Channels. 17 Oct 2004 .

Schmelzer, Paul. "The Death of Local News." Alternet 23 April 2004. 17 Oct 2004 .

"Who Owns What." 2004. Columbia Journalism Review. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 17 Oct 2004… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Media Ownership."  Essaytown.com.  October 17, 2004.  Accessed May 23, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/media-ownership-very/258369.