USA: "NRA joins artists in opposing relaxed rules on media ownership"


May 16, 2003, 12:29 PM
from the Montreal Gazette joins artists in opposing relaxed rules on media ownership


Friday, May 16, 2003

It's not often you'll find the National Rifle Association lining up on the side of liberals seeking more regulation of the marketplace.

But the gun-totin' folks at the NRA this week joined musicians, artists and academics in opposing relaxed rules on media ownership in the United States.

"These big media conglomerates are already pushing out diversity of political opinion," complained Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice-president.

Of course, what the NRA really fears is that the media giants will embrace the cause of gun control. :scrutiny: Then who will be around to remind Americans of their constitutional right to bear arms?

That's just one of the ironies in the emerging debate in the U.S. over media ownership - a debate echoed in Canada.

In Ottawa, a Senate committee has been examining media concentration and the convergence between print, broadcast and electronic technologies.

Concerns have been expressed that media companies in Canada operate in a legislative vacuum, leaving them too much control over news and opinion.

In Washington, where fairly strict limits on media ownership already exist, the debate is headed in the other direction.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell wants to relax current policy, which caps a single company's ability to own television stations at 35 per cent of the national audience.

(In fact, the policy has already been breached. Viacom Inc.'s CBS unit owns 35 stations that reach nearly 40 per cent of U.S. viewers).

The FCC says its proposed new limit of 45 per cent is simply catching up with reality.

But bills in both the House and Senate seek to stop the commission before a scheduled June 2 vote on the change. The bills would keep the 35-per-cent cap where it is.

Backers of the legislation argue that without it, a handful of corporations and executives could wind up controlling much of the information and opinion available to Americans.

Ted Turner, once a media baron himself, now says: "There's really five companies that control 90 per cent of what we read, see and hear. It's not healthy."

Critics also oppose another proposed rule change by the FCC, which would lift the current ban on cross-ownership of TV and newspaper assets in the same local market.

The proposal would end the ban in large markets where competition is strong but leave it unchanged in smaller markets.

Some investors believe that relaxing such rules will spark a media-buying frenzy as conglomerates race to snap up locally owned TV stations and newspapers.

Indeed, the stocks of small broadcasters have gained ground in recent weeks on speculation they will be taken over.

But others point out that cross-ownership is not a proven benefit. For example, media companies have had generally disappointing results in trying to sell advertisers on a common package for TV, print and radio.

Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and broadcasting and cable assets, told shareholders at last week's annual meeting that convergence has produced a gain of just $60 million in revenue on total sales of $5.4 billion.

But it's not just the business model at issue here. Corporate concentration goes to the heart of the media's credibility problem.

Executives at Cable News Network now tell us that CNN for many years failed to report aggressively on Saddam Hussein in Iraq in order to maintain its bureau there.

The New York Times now admits a former 27-year-old reporter engaged in monstrous fabrications during his brief career at the newspaper.

These revelations hardly inspire confidence that the big should get even bigger.

© Copyright 2003 Montreal Gazette

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Don Gwinn
May 16, 2003, 12:40 PM
He thinks the NRA is afraid they "will" embrace the cause of gun control? If NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and most of the rest have not embraced gun control, I shudder to think what it will look like when they do!

May 16, 2003, 03:28 PM
Consolidation of media power is one of the huge, and alarming, stories of the last decade. We can thank Clinton for that impetus but Powell's kid seems to be on the wrong side of this one. The NRA stands for the empowerment of the individual--where's the inconsistency?

One more reason to be thankful for the Internet. And this forum.

May 16, 2003, 07:12 PM
I got a thing in the mail from the NRA the other day about this. Asking me to call and send these little post card dealies.

'Scuse me, but I thought that this was the NRA. Maybe they ought to concentrate on making the AW ban DIE instead of harassing the FCC about relaxing rules around media ownership.

Nevermind the fact that the FCC and the have no more legitimacy regulating the airwaves and media production than they do regulating gun ownership.


May 17, 2003, 05:06 PM
With the massive consolidation that has hit the various types of Media you will see various attacks against those Media outlets that are not controlled by the Consolidators.

If you will look this is already happening with the cries for regulation of Alternative Media Outlets. This means that as soon as the Consolidators have most MainStream Media under their control there will be a move to regulate the Internet to stop the reporting of alternative information.

Please note that the recent contretemps at the NY Times has a lot to do with the ability of the consumers of information to access more than a limited amount of information. Do not doubt that if the NY Times could force everyone to only read and quote their paper they wouldn't.

What makes this Firearms Related is that when only a select few control access to the media then they do not have to allow some disadvantaged group the ability to put their views and information before the Public. NRA had this problem when they tried to run commercials in various markets and times to try and influence the public. They were Refused Admittance!

So, I'm all for breaking up these various Media Conglomerates and more severely restricting the level of control in various markets.

May 17, 2003, 05:33 PM
LoneStranger is right...
They will strangle the message.
No news but their news.

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