Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh How The Mighty Are Falling


    
















Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire continues to crumble in response to the phone hacking scandal in U.K., one powerful U.S. Senator is calling for a probe into the conglomerate to see if misconduct occurred on this side of the Atlantic.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the commerce committee, urged government agencies late Tuesday to investigate News Corp's practices in the U.S., including reported targeting of Americans. The push comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans for an inquiry into the phone hacking scandal that's rocked the UK and as News Corp. announced it would withdraw its $12 billion bid to gain full control over British Sky Broadcasting because of the scandal.  The Huffington Post  7/13/11

From Jay Rockefeller's mouth to the FCC's ear. Problem is, the FCC hasn't any teeth.

The monopolies now enjoyed by the fortunate few broadcaste­rs in cable tv, tv and radio have been developing exponentially since 1996 when the FCC increased the legal market share each broadcaste­r could have in any particular market. It's been on a downward spiral ever since and the public is paying for it. This is why cable tv &/or satellite is so expensive. Rabbit ears? Free TV? All gone since the completion of the government mandated changeover from analog to digital.

AFter 28 years in radio broadcasti­ng, I left for a niche tv broadcaster on a low power signal in a resort area.  I had worked for some of the best broadcast companies, Westinghouse, Capital Broadcasting then some of the worst, SFX, Citadel.  I watched independent as well as larger broadcast entities like CBS change from a vibrant, market-oriented focus to become part of what now constitute­s only five major communicat­ions companies throughout the U.S.   There are over 8,000 radio stations folks.  Companies such as Citadel, Cumulus (just bought Citadel btw), Clear Channel and the conglomerate that is now CBS  have eliminated local news, local personalit­ies, format choices in favor of one size fits all broadcasti­ng. It's similar to the big box store rationale; you can be in any town anywhere, they are always the same.  It's called "economies of scale" and it's killing the medium.   They are run, for the most part, by financiers on Wall Street with little or no experience in broadcasti­ng. The result? Tens of thousands of jobs eliminated­, local focus gone.

How does this tie in to the Murdoch investigation?   My belief is the British investigat­ion into the phone hacking scandal will lead  to a U.S. investigat­ion of practices here.   He's already withdrawn his bid to buy 100% of British Sky Broadcasting which would have given him even greater control of British media.  Can you say Berlusconi?

The break down of companies of this magnitude is necessary for the greater good.  Information and entertainment have been funneled down to a very few sources.  We need to see more focus on companies who no longer follow the original dictate of serving the public interest via the public airwaves.

20 comments:

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Amen to all of this. They called Princess Diana "paranoid" when she said the media were tapping her phone. I think they were just getting started. And public radio, which does a great job here of covering local and state news, is coming under fire and may lose federal funding. Sadly, we wouldn't need them so much if other media were serving the need.

Deborah said...

It's all unravelling at astonishing speed now, and it'll be very interesting to see the effect in North America of the investigation into the Murdoch empire's tactics. I appreciated your insider's take on this - excellent post.

DJan said...

For someone who has what seems like unlimited resources, I can hardly believe that Murdoch won't find some way out of this mess. He deserves to pay, IMHO.

Star said...

I think it's a shame that these people stoop so low. It seems there are no depths too low to sink to, do there? It doesn't really surprise me to discover what has been happening over here in England, but it makes me feel ashamed. I think the 'man at the top' should go to prison because he obviously knew what was going on. He rushed back to England to close down the paper, 'The News of the World', but I'm pretty sure that if that sort of thing was going on there, it was going on in the other papers too. I suppose he thinks that by shutting the paper down, no other disgraces will come to light but I think otherwise. No doubt the scandal will spread to your country as well. I expect they're all at it.

California Girl said...

Bliss: I now listen to NPR and one or two radio channels (one is a sports news/talk the other is oldies music) and that is it. I read newspapers online & other political blogs. Radio, once a staple, is pretty much dead for me.

Deborah: Nice to hear from you! I am surprised and delighted by the furor over this. I hope the outrage continues as it will drive the investigations.

Djan: present rumors are he's thinking of selling out.

Star: nice to hear your British perspective. Murdoch's News Corp is loved by U.S. right wing and loathed by the left wing. As a liberal, I would be thrilled to see it all fall down.

*Honest Abe said...

I know we don't watch the TV news except on the brink of a bad storm. We watch it then for weather. News has always been focused by a "team" of editors/producers - people with special interests. Sometimes they wonder why people, like us, who had been subscribers for over 47 years just opted out of their spam laced newspapers. Who needs millions of ads in a newspaper? Not me. To me, ads are spam. Something I didn't want and didn't want to pay for.

California Girl said...

Abe: I sell ads but I see them as necessary for the continuation of the ability to run the broadcast entity. That being said, I get very tired of ads myself. But they serve a purpose.

Alan Burnett said...

Couldn't agree with you more. There is almost an "Arab Spring" like feel over here at the moment - a feeling of both surprise an joy that we are managing to overturn such a source of reactionary power.

Judy said...

Cal Gal, I just saw the latest Jon Steward show and about pee'ed my pants. Wondering if you saw the episode about Michele Bachmann's husband?

Baino said...

Being an Aussie I probably shouldn't comment but he was once one too you know. He still has fingers in pies here. Frankly, I think it will blow over, the man is teflon. Whether it leads to better programming for you guys remains to be seen. On the other hand, we have regulated broadcasting, quite a lot of free to air channels since the arrival of digital TV and I'm pretty pleased with the quality. Although current affairs and news are still best represented on SBS and ABC our public Government owned broadcasters, surprisingly they're the least biased. Journalistic practices have always been spurious, it seems the only crime these days is being caught.

California Girl said...

Alan: I'm not sure what an "Arab Spring" is (water in the desert? a mirage?) but I'm hearing a sense of empowerment on the part of the Brits against this formidable media adversary. Hope it lasts.

Judy: I didn't see Jon Stewart this week. We've been away. If it was last night, I'll try to catch the rerun. Thanks for the heads up.

Baino: Did your computer go crazy? Your post came through 5x! I was excited because I thought five people felt the need to comment. You are always welcome to comment. I still think of him as an Aussie. In fact, I didn't realize he'd taken U.S. citizenship. Probably due to his business or a tax break. I seriously doubt it's bnecause he embraces our country in any particular way.

lisleman said...

Berlusconi - I hope not - He is one wild loose cannon from the little I've heard. Bill Clinton's White House activities look very tame compared to the Italian stallion.

Your are right about the concentration of media. Reason to keep PBS going.

However I believe the switch to digital TV broadcasting was a good idea to free up bandwidth. Technically the digital system is much better.

California Girl said...

Lisle: Yes, digital is better with respect to viewing. Analog was better for those who did not want to pay for tv. the "public airwaves" of radio and television and possibly soon the internet, are becoming privatized and no longer free. This is not how it began and I think we're going to pay for it, individually, on every level. Our land line phone went from $30 per mo to $50 so we dropped it. Our family plan cell phone bill, with no smart phone plan because I won't pay for it, is still $161 per month. Good God Almighty!

Brahm (alfred lives here) said...

Great post, well said - I hope lots of people read this!

Bring on the investigation, the tabloid media and papparazzi culture has become vicious and nont about truth or service, all about scandal.

I say bring it on!

Susan said...

We can only hope that this will also be the downfall of FOX Noise. Or at least ruin their dubious and doubtful credibility. Did I just say that??? What credibility?

California Girl said...

Brahm: Welcome and thanks for leaving a comment. From what I hear, Fox News is barely covering the scandal, if at all.

Susan: Don't you love all the arrests and resignations? I do!

Linda said...

This is why I had my TV satellite service turned of, but never have expressed my reason so eloquently. Thanks!

California Girl said...

Linda: Thanks for visiting and commenting. Wish I could talk my husband into trying internet only tv. In the long run, it's a cost saver. You have to buy a converter box up front to the tune of $600 or so and run all tv programming through the internet. His mother is addicted to pay channels like HBO and our monthly bill is $160+ including our internet & her landline phone. Drives me nuts.

injaynesworld said...

It would be lovely to see News Corp shareholders throw the Murdochs out. The son is just the bad seed of the old man. We used to have a progressive talk radio station in the Santa Barbara area but it conveniently disappeared a month before the 2010 election. Now all we have is right-wing crap. I listen to all-news KCBS out of L.A. or NPR.

Nancy said...

I hope we go after him with everything our weak FCC can bring to the party!

Christina

Christina
by Cole Scott