The Further Pravdaization of the US Media

In the Soviet Union, the two major papers were Pravda (tr. “truth”) and Ysvestia (tr. “news”). Both were basically organs of the Communist Party. Soviet citizens used to say “there’s not much pravda in Ysvestia, and not much ysvestia in Pravda.”

Hahahaha. Who’d want to live in a country like that?

Today, of course, we have the four major television networks: GE, Disney, Murdoch, and Viacom Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements chain. Although this situation might give off a few whiffs of conflicts of interest with objectivity, there’s always cable news: Fox, the organ of the Republican Party, CNN, quickly becoming the organ of the Know Nothing Party (in the proud tradition of Millard Fillmore, no doubt), and MSNBC, which is still finding its voice — and therefore most likely to let actual news leak through.

And newspapers, radio? Readership dwindles, and when’s the last time you heard straight-up news on the radio?

Anyhow, enter the FCC on its white horse flame-breathing dragon:

The head of the Federal Communications Commission has circulated an ambitious plan to relax the decades-old media ownership rules, including repealing a rule that forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city.

Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the commission, wants to repeal the rule in the next two months — a plan that, if successful, would be a big victory for some executives of media conglomerates.

Among them are Samuel Zell, the Chicago investor who is seeking to complete a buyout of the Tribune Company, and Rupert Murdoch, who has lobbied against the rule for years so that he can continue controlling both The New York Post and a Fox television station in New York.

Three of the five commission members support this; the two Democrats have concerns. Rarely does such a portentious change move forward on such a close 3-2 majority. Nevertheless,

“We’ve had six hearings around the country already; we’ve done numerous studies; we’ve been collecting data for the last 18 months; and the issues have been pending for years,” Mr. Martin said in an interview. “I think it is an appropriate time to begin a discussion to complete this rule-making and complete these media ownership issues.”

The time is appropriate, no doubt, because the lame duck he serves is one feisty drake who wants to squeeze out every bit of mojo he can from America before he skulks off to Crawford.


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