News Corp.

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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Church of England Sells News Corp. Shares After Scandals

News Corporation in New York City. Photo by Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners
News Corporation in New York City. Photo by Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

The Church of England has sold its $3 million worth of shares in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. due to concerns about the company's ethics.

Eight News Corp. journalists have been charged by British authorities in connection with a phone-hacking scandal. They are accused of hacking telephone lines belonging to celebrities, politicians, law enforcement officials and crime victims; bribing police officers and paying private investigators for illegally obtained information.

"The Church of England was not satisfied that News Corporation had shown, or is likely in the immediate future to show, a commitment to implement necessary corporate governance reform," the church said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug. 7).

The church also said it was concerned that Murdoch is both chairman and chief executive of News Corp.

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