How big is big? Just 32 years ago, the majority of American media was controlled by 50 corporations. Today, that number is just six. This paper will discuss the ethics involved when a handful of conglomerates are allowed to own a majority of America’s media, and offer possible alternate solution.
Oligopoly, that is the term given when there are only a few firms that dominate a single market. With the announcement today of the Charter Communications buyout of Tome Warner Cable, as well as Bright House Networks, big media just got a little bigger. Out freedom to information is far too important, and with this announcement today, where we get that information become more limited than before, and more controlled. While major networks compete for viewership numbers, and news outlets compete for subscribers, the share the same bed. Here in Washington, we see the same news anchors and reporters on two different networks, at different times, even though these channels are in “competition” for your attention. This has gone past simple left wing-right wing issue, this is the tendency of corporate America to not discuss the real issues. In 2007, then Senator Barrack Obama wrote to a then Republican FCC chairman that wanted to make the same changes that are being now, and condemned those actions.
What are these actions? First, the hearings on these matters are being privately. The FCC, a federal commission that works for the best interest of the television viewing public, or, the rightful owners of the airwaves, will not allow the public to hear what is being sdaid in these hearings. What this administration learned from the previous is, if the hearings are made public, they discover how the public is against the idea of fewer conglomerates owning all the media. The FCC is allowing theses huge corporations to put the squeeze on print media, making it harder for the public to choose where their news comes from. The FCC is longer looking out for our best interest, and is trying to dictate what it is.
The ethics involved in this are that for a Democracy to work, the public needs to be informed with sufficient information. The First Amendment of the Constitution protects freedom of speech and freedom to the press. It is an intended contract between the people and their mews providers. The dwindling numbers of media outlets severely hampers the possibility of fair and impartial reporting. The problem today is that the FCC is no longer run by the people it is supposed to serve. The FCC has a rule against newspapers/broadcast media cross ownership in large cities. This prevents a single media corporation from controlling all news media for their own gain. It does not, however, prevent them from owning media that is nationwide, as long as it does not surpass 39% control. The only ethical solution is for the FCC to strengthen its stand on how much media can be controlled by one corporation, and to allow the publis access to the hearing so their voices may be heard (Moyers & Co. 2012). Conclusion
“The public’s right to know”, that is the basis of the journalist’s code of ethics. For the public to be adequately informed, they must be able to have all side of the story. That is simply not possible today (McManus, N.D.)
Moyers & Co.: Big Media Power Play
, (2012). In films on demand. Retrieved on May, 26, 2015, from http://digitalfilms.com/ McManus, J.H.(N.D.). Merger Mania in the Media: Can We Still Get All the News We Need? Retrieved from http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v7n1/mediacon.html