The Stable Of Cable As A Poster Child

Ah yes, leave it to the market place. Where have we heard that before? Answer: at every business meeting in America and echoed almost every day in our media. The market is our icon and fetish built on the assumption that it acts freely, guided by an “invisible hand” in Adam Smith’s phrase, and always clear of external pressures except the occasional-and I would say systematic-acts of corruption.

In practice, there is nothing free about it. It is dominated and monopolized by a handful of companies who choke off real competition and exclude players who challenge their dominance. How is it that Al Jazeera’s English channel can get on cable all over the world-even in Israel-but be denied access on America cable, even though the company is one of the world’s leading brands?

I am sure Mr. McSlarrow is not thinking here of the other poster children that the FCC worries about in its recent report on the pervasive violence on cable outlets or how babies have their health put at risk by overexposure to TV as overworked parents used their boob tubes as a babysitter.

And what about Bill O’Reilly of Faux Nooze Channel? What is he a poster child for? I haven’t heard the cable association weigh in on his role as a poster child.

According to a more detailed press release provided by the University the researchers used a technique developed after World War I and made an astounding discovery:

Here are some of the findings of the study regarding O’Reilly’s perceived enemies:

Left-leaning media (21.6 percent) made up the largest portion of bad people/groups, and media without a clear political leaning was the second largest (12.2 percent). When it came to evil people and groups, illegal aliens (26.8 percent) and terrorists (21.4 percent) were the largest groups.

[UPDATE: Bill O'Reilly has challenged the findings of this study. Read about it here and here.]

We have more choices but often with fewer voices. The deregulatory regime has let them get away with it, while helping to advance the interests of the real regime in power. In battling against regulation, the industry is always saying it will “self-police itself.” Duh?

Cable execs “understand” the concerns of their viewers and critics but please, they implore, Congress and the FCC don’t regulate, don’t impose public interest obligations, don’t insist on more diversity or kids fare or honest news, don’t assure the continuing presence of public access programming, and most of all, don’t do anything that will stop the revenues flowing into huge media combines as Americans pay more and more for cable and entertainment and often get less and less.

What we need is more regulation in the public interest and rules to insure that the needs of viewers come before the needs of advertisers and highly paid cable executives.

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