monopoly

TRIVIA: Media Monopoly

Find out who is controlling the airwaves—play a rousing game of Media Monopoly Trivia. All the answers can be found in “Air Wars,” by Danny Duncan Collum, in the March 2013 issue of Sojourners magazine. Good luck!

  1. What is the full name of the government agency that regulates all media broadcasts in the U.S.? (Hint: Goes by the acronym FCC.)
     
  2. What is the second-largest multinational mass media corporation? (Hint: Think British phone-hacking scandal.)
     
  3. Which media mogul wants to control the flow of information in the U.S.? (Hint: The owner of the corporation referenced in the previous question.)
     
  4. Who is trying to buy up the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune—two of the nation’s largest newspapers? (Hint: The guy pictured to the left.)
     
  5. Who owns Fox News? (Hint: Notice a pattern yet?)

Elaina Ramsey is assistant editor of Sojourners magazine.

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Air Wars

AS THIS IS written, the Federal Communications Commission is, again, preparing to rule on a revision of its media ownership rules that could, again, allow the few remaining mass media conglomerates to own even more of what are currently competing local news outlets. For one thing, the proposed revision would allow Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to have its Los Angeles and Chicago TV stations and eat the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune, too.

Five years ago, the Bush administration's FCC commissioners tried this move, but it was routed in a decision by a federal appeals court. But, just in time to quash any illusions that a second Obama administration might be less friendly to corporate power, Julius Genachowski, the Obama-appointed FCC chair, tried, at the end of 2012, to quietly slip in this new set of Murdoch-friendly ownership rules. The only reason it may not have happened already is because he raised the issue at the same time that an FCC report on minority media ownership arrived showing the share of outlets owned by people of color to be only 2.2 percent for commercial full-power television and 6.2 percent for commercial AM radio. This, needless to say, raises questions about the wisdom of further media consolidation.

Over the decades, this column has spilled a lot of ink on the subjects of the FCC, media policy, and, especially, media ownership. I haven't obsessed over these issues because of any love for the details of broadband allocation and other regulatory minutiae. In fact, I struggle to understand some of those matters just well enough to try and explain why they are important. But they are important, mostly because deregulated and monopolistic mass media impinge upon our ability to effectively exercise our God-given free will and participate rationally in the process of self-government.

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