Well news has been slow, so here's this report that won't be new to a lot of you...but intresting that they're taking action....
14 June 2002
Sanders: "Congress Cannot Ignore Corporate Control of the Media"
(Op-ed column from The Hill newspaper on Friday, 06/14/02) (960)
(This byliner by Bernie Sanders, U.S. Representative from Vermont in
the House of Representatives, first appeared in The Hill June 14 and
is in the public domain. No republication restrictions.)
Congress Can No Longer Ignore Corporate Control of the Media
One of our best-kept secrets is the degree to which a handful of huge
corporations control the flow of information in the United States.
Whether it is television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books or the
Internet, a few giant conglomerates are determining what we see, hear
and read. And the situation is likely to become much worse as a result
of radical deregulation efforts by the Bush administration and some
horrendous court decisions.
Television is the means by which most Americans get their "news."
Without exception, every major network is owned by a huge conglomerate
that has enormous conflicts of interest. Fox News Channel is owned by
Rupert Murdoch, a right-wing Australian who already owns a significant
portion of the world's media. His network has close ties to the
Republican Party, and among his "fair and balanced" commentators is
NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the largest corporations in
the world -- and one with a long history of anti-union activity. GE, a
major contributor to the Republican Party, has substantial financial
interests in weapons manufacturing, finance, nuclear power and many
other industries. Former CEO Jack Welch was one of the leaders in
shutting down American plants and moving them to low-wage countries
like China and Mexico.
ABC is owned by the Disney Corp., which produces toys and products in
developing countries where they provide their workers atrocious wages
and working conditions.
CBS is owned by Viacom, another huge media conglomerate that owns,
among other entities, MTV, Showtime, Nickelodeon, VH1, TNN, CMT, 39
broadcast television stations, 184 radio stations, Paramount Pictures
and Blockbuster Inc.
The essential problem with television is not just a right-wing bias in
news and programming, or the transformation of politics and government
into entertainment and sensationalism. Nor is it just the constant
bombardment of advertising, much of it directed at children. It's that
the most important issues facing the middle-class and working people
of our country are rarely discussed. The average American does not see
his or her reality reflected on the television screen.
The United States is the only industrialized nation on earth that does
not have a national healthcare program. Yet, despite 41 million people
with no health insurance and millions more underinsured, we spend far
more per capita on healthcare than any other nation. Maybe the reason
is that we are seeing no good programs on television, in between the
prescription drug advertisements, discussing how we can provide
quality healthcare for all at far lower per capita costs than we
Despite the great "economic boom" of the 1990s, the average American
worker is now working longer hours for lower wages than 30 years ago,
and we have lost millions of decent-paying manufacturing jobs. Where
are the TV programs addressing our $360 billion trade deficit, or what
our disastrous trade policy has done to depress wages in this country?
And while we're on economics, workers who are in unions earn 30
percent more than non-union people doing the same work. There are a
lot of programs on television about how to get rich by investing in
the stock market. But have you seen any "specials" on how to go about
forming a union?
The United States has the most unfair distribution of wealth and
income in the industrialized world, and the highest rate of childhood
poverty. There's a lot of television promoting greed and
self-interest, but how many programs speak to the "justice" of the
richest 1 percent owning more wealth than the bottom 95 percent? Or of
the CEOs of major corporations earning 500 times what their employees
If television largely ignores the reality of life for the majority of
Americans, corporate radio is just plain overt in its right-wing bias.
In a nation that cast a few million more votes for Al Gore and Ralph
Nader than for George Bush and Pat Buchanan, there are dozens of
right-wing talk show programs. Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, Bob
Grant, Sean Hannity, Alan Keyes, Armstrong Williams, Howie Carr,
Oliver North, Michael Savage, Michael Reagan, Pat Robertson, Laura
Schlessinger -- these are only a few of the voices that day after day
pound a right-wing drumbeat into the heartland of this country.
And from a left perspective there is -- well, no one. The Republican
Party, corporate owners and advertisers have their point of view well
represented on radio. Unfortunately, the rest of America has almost
nothing As bad as the current media situation is, it is likely to be
made much worse by a recent decision in the District of Columbia Court
of Appeals that responded to a suit by Fox, AOL Time Warner, NBC and
Viacom. That decision struck down a federal regulation limiting
companies from owning television stations and cable franchises in the
same local markets. The court also ordered that the Federal
Communications Commission either justify or rewrite the federal rule
that limits any one company from owning television stations that reach
more than 35 percent of American households.
The bottom line is that fewer and fewer huge conglomerates are
controlling virtually everything that the ordinary American sees,
hears and reads. This is an issue that Congress can no longer ignore.
(Rep. Bernie Sanders is an Independent from Vermont.)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov
find this at http://cryptome.org/media-coup.htm