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Appeals Court Rejects More Media Consolidation

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Appeals Court Rejects More Media Consolidation - Stephen Lendman

In six editions of "The Media Monopoly" and subsequent update titled, "The New Media Monopoly," Ben Bagdikian explained how deregulation let major media corporations consolidate to oligopoly size.

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Since 1983, the number of corporations owning most newspapers, magazines, book publishers, recorded music, movie studios, television and radio stations  shrunk from 50 to a handful, including Time-Warner, Disney, News Corp., Viacom, Comcast, and Bertelsmann AG.

In 1996, Telecommunications Act backers claimed it would increase competition, lower prices, and improve service. In fact, TV station ownership limits were raised to let broadcast giants own twice as many local stations as before, charge what they wished, and dismiss public concerns in the process. 

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For radio, all national ownership limits were removed, and, in large urban areas, one company could own up to eight stations in a major market. In smaller ones, two companies could own them all. 

The bill also consigned new digital television broadcast spectrum space only to current TV station owners, and let cable companies increase their local monopoly positions. Media and telecom giants were clear winners. Consumers lost out. 

Yet in October 2007, FCC chairman Kevin Martin proposed lifting the 1975 media cross-ownership rule, forbidding one company from owning a newspaper and television or radio station in the same city even though some conglomerates already did like News Corp. In November, he amended his plan to allow cross ownership only in large markets where competition already exists, with deceptive loopholes through waivers to permit it anywhere.

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In 2003, FCC Michael Powell also tried loosening ownership rules, despite opponents saying relaxing them would further stifle debate, inhibit new ideas, weaken diversity, and more greatly consolidate oligopoly power.

  

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