Friday night topic: Big media and ownership rules


— 4:30 PM on May 30, 2003

There's been a major political battle brewing this week over proposed changes to FCC rules that would eliminate certain restrictions on media ownership concentration. I'm unsure where to land on this issue. Relaxed restrictions on media ownship could lead to higher quality programming and spark investment in new directions in media, like regional content. However, there seems to be a clear problem of scale in media today—media giants like Disney and AOL Time Warner are widely perceived as problematic, and for good reason—and further consolidation might hasten some unwelcome trends. Media mogul Ted Turner, of course, has a strong opinion. He writes:

On Monday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is expected to adopt dramatic rule changes that will extend the market dominance of the five media corporations that control most of what Americans read, see and hear. I am a major shareholder in the largest of those five corporations, yet -- speaking only for myself, and not for AOL Time Warner -- I oppose these rules. They will stifle debate, inhibit new ideas and shut out smaller businesses trying to compete. If these rules had been in place in 1970, it would have been virtually impossible for me to start Turner Broadcasting or, 10 years later, to launch CNN.
Compelling stuff. Then again, Ted Turner has never seemed a veritable font of wisdom. So would the proposed changes help more or hurt more? Discuss.
 
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