Apr
14
2014

Something You Still Won't See on MSNBC

cnn-franken

A merger of two massive media companies–which raises some fundamental questions about one corporation holding enormous power over cable, broadband and programming–isn't generating any interest over at MSNBC.

Jan
17
2013

Copyright for People, Not for Publishers

Participant in National Talk Like a Pirate Day. (Photo: Practical Owl)

"Misinterpreting Copyright: A Series of Errors," an essay by Richard Stallman, is one of the best explanations I've seen for what's wrong with the way we think about copyright. The main idea is that the when the U.S. Constitution authorized copyright laws, it did so on the basis that it is "not a natural right of authors, but an artificial concession made to them for the sake of progress."

Nov
06
2012

FCC Wants to End Persecution of Media Moguls

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane

The L.A. Times (11/6/12) reports that following the election, the Federal Communications Commission appears likely to ease cross-ownership rules–because supposedly nobody cares about that stuff anymore. The article by reporter Jim Puzzanghera tries to work up sympathy for media moguls: Paul Boyle, senior vice president for public policy at the Newspaper Association of America, said the rules make it difficult for investors who have as little as a 5 percent ownership in a broadcast company to buy a newspaper in the same market. Pity the poor billionaire who owns a mere 5 percent of Disney or Time Warner–and still they're […]

Jul
19
2012

Local TV News–Now With Ice Cream!

A new survey from the Radio Television Digital News Association reveals that we're getting more local TV news: For the fourth year in a row, the latest RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey found that the average television station set a new record for the amount of local news aired. Over those last four years, the average amount of weekday news has gone from 4:36 to 5:00 to 5:18 last year. This year, it's up another 12 minutes to five-and-a-half hours per weekday. Of course, the distinction between quantity and quality matters a great deal. Local television news rarely distinguishes itself when […]

Aug
22
2011

Fairness Doctrine Dead: Misconceptions Live On

The FCC announced it was doing away with dozens of rules today, including the Fairness Doctrine–perhaps one of the most widely misunderstood media policy concepts of all time. As the Hollywood Reporter put it: Bound to get the most attention though is ditching the Fairness Doctrine, an idea that was meant to force radio broadcasters into offering as much left wing political content as they offer right wing commentary. This is the Fairness Doctrine as imagined by right-wing talk show hosts as a way to scare listeners. Rush Limbaugh called it the "Hush Rush Bill," and claimed that it would […]

May
09
2011

Beyond the 'Vast Wasteland'

On the anniversary of former FCC commissioner Newton Minow's speech decrying television as a "vast wasteland," Chicago News Cooperative columnist James Warren makes an important point: Minow's speech was really about how broadcasters should be forced to do more public affairs programming in return for their free use of the public airwaves: Sitting high above the Loop with Newton Minow, I realized that history buried his lede–to his everlasting good fortune. "Burying the lede" is newspaperese for sticking a story's main point too far down. It partly explains why Monday brings the 50th anniversary of a speech that is now […]