The Vaunted Protector
of Our Democracy Is Long Gone
Few Know of The Concerted Plan To Influence The Media In This
NewsFocus, By Tim Watts 031209
What Most Don’t Know About Media In The United States
The Takeover And Control of News And Information in America
In the beginning we had the Gutenberg printing
press. Books and newspapers were the information king, but
printed material was often voluminous and disbursement was slow.
The dawning of the technical age of media
allowed the spread of information at a much faster pace than
ever before in the history of mankind. With the advent of the
electronic age came the telegraph and then the telephone, with radio,
television, cable, and satellite to follow. The flow of news and
information could now travel instantly around the globe,
allowing thoughts and ideas to be shared with lightning speed.
The information age was born.
Just as this new age could become a boon to
mankind, allowing the propagation of knowledge to enlighten
humanity, it could also become a dangerous shackle by
disillusioning man with disinformation and propaganda. The
dissemination of media was only as good as those that created
and delivered it.
The electronic age brought about an era of
ingenuity unlike any ever seen before in the history of mankind.
Technology moved along at a breakneck pace due to the rapid flow
of information. The invention of the computer would be the
topper of them all, giving us the electronic storage and instant
retrieval of data, while allowing it to be quickly sorted and
analyzed it in ways never before imagined.
As a result of the computer, a new medium
would soon be born that would involve three of the preceding
electronic technologies; the invention of the internet would
employ telephone, cable and satellite to forge a new medium that
offered broadband delivery capabilities for disseminating all
media, newspapers, radio and television, from one source.
Recognizing the vast potential of electronic
media brought about government intervention for registration as
well as regulation. Commercial patents would need to be issued,
along with guidelines for business use and the establishment of
A History of Broadcast Regulation
The first act to regulate the licensing of
radio was the Radio Act of 1912
which formally assigned three and four letter designations to
radio stations. It also demanded all
amateur radio operators (HAM) to be licensed and prevented them
from transmitting over federally assigned commercial and
military wavelengths. Regulation of the act was assigned to The
United States Department of Commerce and Labor. They were given
authority to impose fines and to revoke the licenses of any
radio operator caught violating the new act.
Surprising enough, part of its
inception was brought about by the sinking of the Titanic. It
required all seagoing ships to maintain 24-hour radio contact
with coastal stations and all other ocean vessels. The Wireless
Ship Act of 1910 was seen as not definitive enough as a
standard, thus the 1912 act was born.
An ensuing military concern only scant years
later brought about the 1927 Radio Act, passed by Congress
and originally said to be
designed to regulate broadcast radio in "the public
interest, convenience, and necessity," however a little
known impetus would allegedly be to prevent the use of
wireless as a weapon of war, not as a transmitter of enemy
propaganda; so the story has been suggested.
One other more interesting thought that might
be entertained, if you understand the 1910 meeting at Jekyll
Island (see Federal Reserve story), is that it very well may not
have been radio, per se, that they were
interested in regulating regarding this innovative new and most
powerful persuasive medium. Radio indeed held the capability to
provide instant communication
with large populations, thus holding the potential for what some
might consider to be dangerous and persuasive
free speech that could emanate from this sweeping new
technology, dispensing hidden truth that could be disseminated
and radiated en masse to not only local and larger geographical
regions, but an entire nation.
This new regulation of communications was
handled by two government entities, the Department of Commerce
and the Interstate Commerce commission, but in 1934 the Congress
and President Franklin Roosevelt were pressured to combine
regulation of both wired and wireless into one act. The idea was
to create a unique, unprecedented power over all electronic
communications, an omnipotent overseer to regulate interstate
and foreign communications commerce, not just for the public
well being, but to a greater degree, for the national defense.
The Communications Act of 1934
Roosevelt's request was made public in January
of 1934. It was debated by the Senate for several days in March
while the House took but one day in April. Both bills were
finally coalesced into one bill on June 19th by the 73d Congress
and the new Communications Act was born. (Public Law # 416)
While the act had few detractors, there were some critics who
were worried about the well being of public radio, although in
the end the final bill left commercial and educational
broadcasting to be struck down by the new Commission. In 1941,
radio frequencies were finally set aside for public
broadcasting, but not on the then popular AM band, rather
instead only on a new, less utilized channel, known as FM.
The Communications Act of 1934 was divided
into several dozen sections, which were in turn split into six
parts called titles.
Title 1 - general FCC regulations
Title 2 - common carrier regulations
Title 3 - broadcasting regulations
Title 4 - administration & procedural regulations
Title 5 - penal provisions, fines and forfeiture regulations
Title 6 - miscellaneous sundry regulations
The advent of public broadcasting in 1967 broadened Title 3,
along with the creation of
National Public Radio (NPR) in 1972, and the Children's
Television Act of 1990, but it was the
premier of cable in 1984 that brought about an all new amendment
altogether, Title 7, later expanded further in the cable act of
1992. although one would think Title 7 would have been covered
already under the wired and wireless acts.
Creation of The FCC
The Communications Act of 1934 was long
considered a pillar of American broadcasting, with the stated
purpose of bringing together under one roof the governance of
both wireless and wired communications. As a direct result, it
brought about the creation of the Federal Communications
Commission, a then seven member panel commonly known as the FCC.
The FCC is technically considered an
independent regulatory agency, although it is under the direct
review of both Congress and the President. Today It is headed by
five commissioners who are appointed by the president, with the
advice and consent of the Senate. The collective commissioners
serve staggered five year terms, with no more than two
representing any one political party. That leaves the fifth
member, the chairman, who is excluded from this restriction,
thus still leaving room for a political imbalance, depending on
the political party in power. Since the sitting president
appoints this chairperson, the political influence of the
commission swings with each presidential election.
The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 united
states, and all of its U.S. possessions. It is directly
responsible for regulating interstate and international
communications of radio, television, wire, satellite, microwave,
and cable, while also including the cellular telephone industry, digital broadcasting, and
personal communications systems.
The commission grants
commercial licenses for a limited number of individual
frequencies, while reportedly withholding roughly fifty percent of all available
frequencies for the federal government for national
security and public safety. The FCC also regulates
interstate common carrier systems, radio systems for industry,
trucking, taxis, police and fire departments, emergency medical
vehicles and marine-ship systems, as well as all aviation
Ideally, the Communications Act essentially should work
in conjunction with the First Amendment's freedom of speech and
its press provisions, relying on the commerce clause of Article
I, section 8. The airwaves have always been considered as public
domain and rightfully need to be regulated in the public interest. The
conservative far right has often screamed of what they call a liberal media bias;
translation, an unfair advantage against the corporate rich, in favor of
the common man. The corporate right has long argued that the FCC
has over-regulated the electronic media, thus giving the unfair
advantage to the average American. As a result, many of the corporate
wealthy have aberrantly
called for major alterations to the act, even going so far as proposing to abolish the FCC and its long entrusted duty to protect the public
While the Communications Act of 1934 lasted
for many decades, it was itself amended more than once due to
the vastly new fast emerging technology advancements, such as
the Communications Satellite Act
of 1962, the Cable Act of 1992, and the Telecommunications Act
Telecom Act of 1996
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 changed the law in
order for corporate entities and wealthy individuals to buy unlimited numbers of radio stations.
There used to be a limit, but now that restriction has been lifted,
allowing as many as they can possibly finance nationwide, with up to eight
allowed in a
single town. This was expressly prohibited under the previous law for very
good reason. It prevented one person, or a group, from buying up the media
in order to indoctrinate the populace with their own jaded political or
What we have now under the new law is dangerous to our
republic and the democracy that we used to know and cherish. Gone now is
the protector of our Constitutional rights. Lost is our watchdog over
political skullduggery and corporate malfeasance.
We are now stuck with an elite group of wealthy owners
and corporate entities that decide what we all
get to hear on local radio or view on our televisions.
This cabal of predominantly conservative individuals and
entities now deliver only their version of politics, brainwashing the
masses as a result. We are now continually bombarded with far right wing
ideology that drowns out the liberal or moderate voice in our country. As
a result, listeners are now inundated with the far right opinions of Rush
Limbaugh, Laura Ingram and Michael Savage, to name but a few. Television
viewers are subjected FOX News and it's glaringly biased right wing
disinformation, spread through not only its news department, but also its
myriad commentators such as Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.
These people don't just spin the news around us, they purposefully lie
about it to further the jaded political ideology of their corporate
master, in this case, Rupert Murdoch.
What good can one possibly say about a person who
publicly states that he is free to print, publish
or broadcast whatever he wants through his media properties, whether it is
the truth or not? This is the warped opinion of Mr. Murdoch and his faux
news organization. So much for journalistic integrity.
A Right-Wing Biased Shift In American Media
The beloved Reagan Administration was the evil behind
the 1988 deregulation of our media. It was under Reagan and Bush Sr., that
the genesis for media monopolization began. They also did away with the
Fairness Doctrine, Federal requirements that governed our political
debates, equal time, and the personal attack rule. This essentially made
it easier for the right to lie and spread political propaganda without
fear of retaliation.
The advent of 1980s Reagan-era deregulation, along
with recent commission rulings of the 90s and new millennium, has
allowed a select group of major corporations to now purchase a
domineering control of mass media throughout the country, bringing about
a dangerous and unprecedented far right influence over the American
media. The FCC was allowed to scrap broadcast ownership limitations,
allowing dangerous monopolies that the law was originally intended to
prevent. Under the new ruling, broadcast owners were able to
freely sell their licenses as commodities with no regard for the public
The Reagan deregulation of our media
has arguably been the death knell for our highly revered republic. Our watchdog of
democracy has, as a result, been taken from us. The license to broadcast
used to always be held in the "public interest." Sadly, that is no
longer the case. It is now in the "corporate interest," with an
undeniable financial bottom line which governs its direction and
purpose. Before deregulation, a broadcast licensee was made to hold
their license in the first term for a minimum of five years and then for
every renewal afterwards, a duration of three years, whether the license
holder was making a profit or losing their shirt entirely. It was for
the "public good."
What we have now is what this author
refers to as "Century-21 broadcasting," for you can now buy a
media outlet and immediately turn around the next minute and hang a
for sale sign on that license, with the sole interest of profit,
with no longer any regard for the public good. That is what has allowed
our broadcast media to now be boiled down to a mere six corporations.
THE EIGHT YEAR TAKEOVER OF THE US
All it took to seize total US media
control was money and 8 years time.
From 50 large media companies to just six in eight years.
(Viacom and CBS split
gives us six corporations since this printing.)
Graph courtesy of
the Corporate Accountability Project
Broadcast Deregulation: A
Oman For Democracy
Aside from the loss of
varied and distinctive viewpoints that are now missing from our
society, we have also greatly diminished our ability to safeguard our
republic and the democracy for which it stands. With no one asking the
tough questions, who is actually protecting our rights and our democracy
The only way to usurp democracy is to fool
the people. The only way to fool the people is through their news and
media. Once deregulation was allowed, the plan for the takeover of the
U.S. was finally able to accelerate by having big money buy up and
consolidate all the U.S. media.
The deregulation of the
protector of our Democracy is often called by many now as “short
sided thinking,” one with dire consequences for our republic, but
others challenge that it was a calculated step towards the taking
over of our media.
The Reagan-era deregulation
of broadcasting brought about media consolidation to the point where
news and information in our democracy is now able to be controlled.
Sadly for our nation’s democracy, our media ownership has dropped from
50 major ownership organizations in 1983 to just six groups today.
That’s a very dangerous precedent for the vaunted protector of our
democracy. Each of these media giants is also a multi-BILLION dollar
enterprise with numerous media outlets in their fold. (TV, radio,
newspapers, movies, etc.)
Taking over the media is a
necessary phase in toppling a government “by the people” because
it is an invaluable tool in shaping the public’s opinion. Our credulous
acceptance of the news as gospel should punctuate easily enough why
people fell for the Iraq 9/11 connection. Even though President Bush II
later admitted publicly that Iraq had no ties, a third of
Americans still believe the lie. That is the all powerful
persuasion of the media. (Being a lemming helps too.)
Rupert Murdoch says that the
remaining six corporations controlling our media will eventually be
pared down to just three and he fully expects to be one of the three
Creation of Monopolies
FCC ownership deregulation has allowed the monopoly acquisition of television,
radio, newspaper, and cable providers, all previously expressly
prohibited so that one person or group could not impartially influence a
widespread audience with political, philosophical or religious ideology.
These recent changes have brought about a convergence
of media, expressly prohibited until now, creating once
forbidden monopolies, dangerous for the overbearing influence
they can impose on a democratic society. Many constitutional
scholars and advocates of democracy argue vehemently that the
FCC has failed to protect the public interest, deferring instead
to a political agenda in favor of the extreme far right. One
most notable example would be the FCC abandonment of the
Fairness Doctrine which forced broadcasters to present opposing
viewpoints to its audiences.
Sadly, under Republican leadership, the FCC has essentially
adopted a more corporate stance towards regulation moving
towards the right wing conservatives dream of a market-based
interpretation of FCC regulation.
While the FCC has been involved in much
litigation regarding these new dangerous media monopolies, the
US Supreme Court has failed to exercise its judicial purview in
more cases than not. Congress itself has has amended the
Communications Act many times in a lobbied effort to strengthen
the act back towards the public interest, but the right has
argued that their new monolithic converging monopolies should be
allowed to let a free marketplace determine the fate of American
media for the common man.
Rules governing libel for printed media and slander
for vocal electronic media are now easily skirted and sorely abused
under the guise of "commentary" The new right-wing controlled faux news
organizations stack their anchor rosters with countless talking heads,
all delivering commentary under the guise of journalistic news to an
uneducated and altogether far too trusting American public.
Arguably the most alarming of all, the Commission
has shirked its responsibility and duty in reviewing renewal
applications for broadcasting licenses, essentially making such
license privileges permanent.
There was a
day when a foreign national was not allowed to buy into our
media, due to the inherent danger of our way of government being
influenced by contrarian concepts to the ideals that our forefathers
fought so hard for and left to us as caretakers of. We have failed
miserably in that regard as it is now legal for foreigners to buy into
our media, as the Australian Murdoch has, thus circumventing and
usurping our republic and its democracy.
FOX news owner Rupert Murdoch of News Corp has said that in the very
near future, we will be down to just three media owners and he is
adamant that he will be one of them. That is a scary thought for many,
considering the fact that Murdoch claims he can print or broadcast
whatever he likes, whether it is the truth or not.
At this perilous point in
our country, we quite literally, have the FOX watching over the hen
house. Pun intended. Rupert Murdoch has changed our media.
Please, watch the movie
“OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War On Journalism.” (see video
below) Find out how
Americans have been fooled, as told by reporters and news editors who
have worked there. Those who already watch FOX are in for an awakening.
FOX is arguably the most biased in their news, but all the major
networks have their shortcomings. Look to alternative forms of
information and news, but do so with a watchful eye and wary mind. Be
discerning with the source of your media, for it is blind media
gullibility that has indeed cost us all dearly here in America. We were
far too trusting of the media we had with our one true treasure,
Media Gone Awry
Seemingly gone are the days of broadcasting in
the public interest as the commission apparently leans in favor
of the corporate interest, weakly requiring broadcasters to
present their own feigned view of public interest programming.
Consider this quote from
John Swinton, former Chief of Staff for the New York Times in an address
to the New York Press club.
is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an
independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you
who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know
beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for
keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others
of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who
would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the
streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to
appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation
would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth;
to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon,
and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it
and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We
are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the
jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our
possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are
Swinton, former Chief of Staff, The New York Times.
The watchdog of democracy,
our hallowed and formerly esteemed press, became easy pickings for
corporate takeover. Government deregulation in the 1980s made it
possible for the conversion of our media into the complicit,
homogenized, neutered, spineless industry that it is today.
Even back in the day, our
forefathers were also concerned about the media.
“The man who
reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing
but newspapers.” Thomas Jefferson
The current media of the
United States is controlled by a mere half dozen men. Those six
individuals have total control over what you see and how your news and
information in the world is shaped and presented to you. See for
yourself in the following table.
Disney – ABC
General Electric – NBC
Westinghouse - CBS
Viacom – UPN
Time Warner-CNN Richards
NewsCorp – FOX
"The gathering of more and more outlets under
one owner clearly can be an impediment to a free and independent press."
Former CBS News anchorman
With six people
in charge of our current media, it is now all too easy to
propagandize and manipulate the people through the press. Until people
give up their longstanding,
in our corporate news media, they will never find their way out of
oppression, nor ever know the real truth.
With the media
unified now under consolidated corporate ownership, literally in
lock-step with each other, it’s much easier to propagandize with
disinformation, such as the infamous 9/11 link to Iraq, or
non-existent weapons of mass destruction to encourage our entry
into an oil war.
To quote the fictitious
character Howard Beal from the 1976 movie Network…
you any shit you want to hear.”