The US Senate is shocked, shocked, by the FCC's recent pro-big-media decision basically enabling America's TV and radio broadcasters, big Internet content providers and newspaper publishers to merge into a monolithic and self-serving commercial propaganda machine.
Senate Commerce Committee Member Byron Dorgan (Democrat, North Dakota) had denounced the FCC move as "dumb and dangerous" not long ago and vowed revenge by way of legislation to rectify this dastardly act.
Sure enough the Committee held a hearing on Wednesday during which the FCC Commissioners responsible for the regulatory sneak attack were grilled briefly and then sent back to their important work on behalf of the American people.
Later the Committee voted on, and approved, tough proposed legislation to roll back the cross-ownership bonanza, even requiring ClearChannel to divest itself of some of its outlets.
It's reasonable to anticipate passage in the Senate, but the House appears set against it, chiefly because Representatives must stand elections every two years and therefore exist in a campaign steady-state, and dare not anger the media behemoths on whom they depend for money and publicity.
Thus if the bill reaches conference, it may emerge so watered-down as to be practically useless. However, even if it's defeated or gutted it might not matter in any real-world sense; America may already have passed the point of no return. It's hard to believe that encouraging further media synergy could inflict any more damage upon a populace that relies on television and other image-rich material for the vast bulk of its 'knowledge', a situation analogous to the European peasant masses of the Middle Ages.
Research by the National Center for Education Statistics finds that only thirty-six per cent of American high-school seniors are capable of reading at a level regarded as 'proficient'. In a nation that depends on television as the national oracle -- where sixty-four per cent of high school graduates are illiterate -- the current level of TV consolidation is already a graver threat to long-term survival than international terrorism will ever be.
We recall the words of comedian Bill Maher, who deemed US news coverage of the war in Iraq fair and balanced: "We heard from generals, and from retired generals," he quipped. Additionally, the pool of media consultants, 'experts' and 'analysts' spinning the 'war on terror' inevitably consists of the same retired military officers, FBI and CIA agents, DoJ flacks, and defence policy advisors who now work for defence contractors. This ensures that when it comes to coverage of military, foreign-policy, national-security and law-enforcement matters, no voice will reach the airwaves from outside the Onanistic circle of the defence/intelligence/law-enforcement nexus.
Is preventing News Corp. from buying DirecTV really going to improve things?
With that rhetorical question in mind we note briefly that Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) President Hillary Rosen is stepping down from her post as patron saint of the content cartel to become another among hundreds of network and cable TV pseudo-journalists holding forth from pre-approved scripts, as well as a rich diversity of government and corporate press releases.
In August Hillary will become a commentator on CNBC, the New York Post reports. She will appear on the shows "Capitol Report," "Power Lunch" and "Squawk Box" to explain the importance of media synergy and the terrible dangers of allowing information to be disseminated through any means not under the direct control of the media cartel.
"They are looking for me to do the larger picture on some of the content convergence and media consolidation issues and know that I have a point of view on many issues as a longtime advocate," the Post quotes her as saying.
That would be the 'larger picture' belonging to the 'smaller interests' of the cartel as opposed to the 'smaller picture' belonging to the 'larger interests' of the public. It's good to see that Hill hasn't lost her flack's edge in speaking complete rubbish that sounds rather good, at least so long as one doesn't think about what it means. ®