Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mass Media’s Global Monopoly and the Legal Freedom to Lie

After the Second World War the mass media in Europe, America and Australia developed into monopolies. Generally speaking radio and television in Europe became state services and subject to heavy censorship. In the United States a few giant news services and networks emerged. The Hachette and Havas organisation in France took control of many of the small to medium sized newspapers and the conservative Axel Springer clique in West Germany gained control of nineteen newspapers with a total circulation of eighteen million. In 1970 five newspapers reached more than two hundred thousand readers each in Italy. “Many of the major British newspapers were almalgamated during the sixties by the Lord Rothermere, Lord Thomson and Cecil King groups. In the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, all the media were state controlled. Whether privately or state controlled, however, the mass media represented a revolution in communications that enabled them to exert unprecedented influence over public opinion.” [1]

Since Robert Anchor described this process of media concentration in 1978 the mass media have meanwhile become even more monopolized. In 1983 the number of major mass media companies in the US shrank from several hundred in the 1950s to about 50. “These fifty corporations in 1984 became twenty-six in 1987, twenty-three in l990, and then less than twenty in 1993. In 1996 the number of media corporations with dominant power in society was closer to ten. Today it is at most eight…” [2]

QUESTION: In an age that witnesses (i) the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other dangerous technologies; and now (ii) the legal freedom of political candidates to lie [3]


[1] ‘The Modern Western Experience’ by Robert Anchor, University of Southern California. 1978. Prentice Hall Inc, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632. ISBN 0-13-599357-1. Pages 272-273.

[2] A thesis submitted by GRAEME CHEADLE to the European University Center for Peace Studies Stadtschlaining/Burg, Austria in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an MA degree in Peace and Conflict Studies 24,806 WORDS (91 PAGES). MAY 2005

[3] ‘Split court says candidates can lie’ by Ralph Thomas.Seattle Times Olympia bureau, Friday, October 5, 2007. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003926782_scow05m.html


Jonathan said...

I would be a lot more worried about the monopolization of mass media without the existence of the internet. I think the internet is a workable solution to accessing information that the monopolized media doesn't broadcast.

Or maybe I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

like they aren't working on controlling the internet jp.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

My neighbour said that he'd heard that the google search engine no longer links to Uruknet. I haven't checked this yet though.

I was somewhat taken aback by the lack of information on the Net about Jim Cairns this month. After all, he was the social conscience of the Labor Party in Australia during the 1970s and held key positions of power in Government back then.

Eleanor said...

We are seeing more and more attempts to control information on the Internet. There is a new international agreement on enforcement of copyright on the Internet in the works. It sounds scary to me.

Among other things, copyright can be used to deny access to information. In a minor example from the science fiction community, an editor who wrote a racist rejection note for a story has claimed that the note is copyright protected and cannot be legally published by the person who got the note.

I am swinging over to Dean Baker's position on copyright, though it doesn't work well for non-academic work.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

here's the link regarding Google and Uruknet. It is removal of Uruknet from Google News.


And it looks like Rupert Murdoch's media censorship is escalating to new heights:

'Get out of MySpace, bloggers rage at Murdoch'
"....The 38 million subscribers to MySpace, which News Corp bought for $629m (£355m) last July, discovered that when they wrote to each other about rival video-swapping site YouTube, the words were automatically deleted, and attempts to download video images from YouTube led to blank screens...Mr Murdoch, 74, last week appointed 33-year-old Jeremy Philips to run News Corp's internet strategy and armed him with a $1bn fund to buy more sites..."


Jonathan said...

I think there are definitely net neutrality concerns.

However censorship concerns on sites like myspace, youtube, flickr, livejournal, (even blogspot), are out of place in my opinion.

If I want to write or post what I am within my legal bounds of posting (no copyrighted material, no kiddie porn) the ONLY solution is to own your own bandwidth.

Now about google. Google is in an interesting position. They indubitably control access to information to the masses and have a social responsibility to ensure that they don't censor it. But what if they do censor the access, like they seem to be doing with Uruknet? Like the original post says, where the hell does that leave us?

I don't know.