Shortly after we inaugurate the next president, the 75-year history of over-the-air broadcasting, as created by the 1934 Communications Act, will come to an end—to be replaced by what? Should faith communities, already fighting war, poverty, and global warming, take up the task of answering this question?
The authors of three new books say yes, and here's why: The media, technology, and telecommunications industries are in the middle of a wrenching shake-up of historic proportions. New technologies, new business models, and the upcoming move to digital TV in February 2009 have created the best opportunity in decades for people of faith to shape our communication environment to reflect our values.
If we take advantage of this turmoil to insist on radical change, then the struggle for every other change we want to make—universal health care, ending homelessness, ending war, or saving the planet—will get easier. If we fail to seize this moment, the most powerful communication tools in the history of humankind—from radio, TV, movies, and the next-generation Internet—will continue to be deployed primarily by people whose primary mission is to move merchandise off store shelves.
Eric Klinenberg, author of Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media, and Jeff Chester, author of Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy, describe the efforts of a lonely group of scholars, attorneys, and activists to counteract millions of dollars that corporate lobbyists spend in support of mergers and acquisitions among an ever-shrinking number of larger and larger multimedia, multinational conglomerates.