News censors for the embedded mass media have edited out all coverage of the debate now in progress over consolidation in broadcasting. The Federal Communications Commission is poised to roll back regulations limiting the issuance of broadcasting licenses to owners of multiple news outlets, but don't look for public discussion of the government's action. Major broadcasters have turned their backs on the story, as has the ink-on-paper press, and no wonder: their branch of the entertainment industry is the sole beneficiary of the commission's unpopular move, and they'll be forever beholden to the reluctant regulators if any part of it gets through.
Right-wingers who make up the majority of the commission have long wanted to ease restrictions on broadcasters and media companies. Expressing passionate concern over depressed profit margins and stock prices in the news industry, the regulators succeeded a few years ago in loosening ownership rules, but a federal court invalidated most of the rule changes.
The zealots are back with a pared-down version of their deregulation scheme, whereby newspapers will be allowed to own TV stations in the 20 biggest media markets, a practice that's prohibited under current regulations. The prospect of obscene proft offered by this bit of deregulation seems to have dulled the journalistic edge just about everywhere. Try Google for news about "media consolidation" and you will find almost nothing of recent vintage: over the past three weeks or so, a few pieces in the Seattle Times, a couple of AP items, one CNN segment that's disappeared from the Internet, and that's about it.
The prospect of unrestrained censorship may be equally tempting to the nation's news-mongers. How much easier it will be to print lies in the morning rag if you can confirm them on TV at six with a pretty face and a hint of cleavage. Not that censorship is conducted with any embarassment today, even without new indulgences from the FCC. News taboos are everywhere. Besides this story, notice what else can't be mentioned:
Over a million dead in Iraq because of the USA
9/11 was an inside job
Most US elected officials, regardless of party, are thugs
Almost 4,000 US soldiers are dead for no reason
Fuel burning is lethal to humanity
Elections are fixed
Racists, not weather, destroyed New Orleans
George Bush is insane
In private, no newsman could fail to acknowledge that each of these assertions is supported by considerable evidence. In public, no newsman would dare mention any of them, much less discuss them. Media consolidation will facilitate the disinformers and disable reliable reporters of events.