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Double Crossing Democracy?
The Civic Vision vs. Vertical Integration
in the Debate Over the Cross-Ownership Ban
Ronald R. Rodgers
E.W. Scripps School of Journalism
Athens, Ohio 45701
[log in to unmask]
Paper Submitted to the Civic Journalism Interest Group of the
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
2004 AEJMC Convention
August 4-7, 2004
Double Crossing Democracy?
The Civic Vision vs. Vertical Integration
in the Debate Over the Cross-Ownership Ban
The ongoing cross-ownership debate hinges on two distinct positions – one
that regards dispersed ownership of the media as fundamental to democracy,
and another that views the media through the lens of a commodity metaphor.
This paper looks at the cross-ownership debate and concludes that a
commodified media may well create community, but one of consumers grounded
in consumerist values, not in the values of civic commonality as the source
of an interstitial community.
Double Crossing Democracy:
The Civic Vision vs. Vertical Integration
in the Debate Over the Cross-Ownership Ban
On the Feb. 12, 2004, broadcast of "The Newshour With Jim Lehrer" during a
segment on Comcast's plans to buy the Disney Corp., Lehrer asked Adam
Thierer, director of telecommunications studies at the libertarian CATO
Institute, what he thought about a fellow panelist's concerns that
eventually five companies would control 75 percent of the programming in
America. In response, Thierer resurrected a metaphor analogous to former
FCC Chairman Mark Fowler's 1984 pronouncement that "Television is just
another appliance. It's a toaster with pictures."
The economics of the media marketplace are not those of a corner lemonade
stand. We're talking about an industry that requires significant economies
of scale, significant investments to pay for the type of content that we
demand as consumers in our modern marketplace. Five or six companies
dominate the market for soda pop or automobiles or a number of mature
industries. We don't complain about those much. What's the difference? We
have choices. The question is one of outputs and how many choices we have
as consumers not who owns what.
Of course, here the topic was specifically electronic media. And yet, in
the context of the FCC's June 2, 2003, vote to loosen the reins on media
ownership, which, almost as a footnote also allowed media firms to own both
broadcast stations and newspapers in the same community, we have to assume
this commodity metaphor also applies to print media. And even if Thierer
gave no thought to newspapers in his argument that day, it is still a
relevant issue because the FCC's vote implies a mindset that sees no
distinction between print and potato chips. In fact, the very debate about
whether the local TV station should be allowed to acquire the local
newspaper rests squarely on answering the question: What is the difference?
Ultimately, how that question is answered largely dictates on which side of
the issue the two sides stand. What I will attempt to do within the
confines of this paper, then, is to delineate how the FCC came to vote the
way it did, how both sides of the issue responded to the vote, and what
kind of arguments both sides have raised in response to the implicit
question here: What is the difference?
Among several actions the FCC took on June 2, 2003, the commission lifted a
ban on companies owning a TV station and a daily newspaper in the same
market. However, the cross-ownership ban still remains in the smallest
markets – those with three or fewer stations. Promulgated in 1975, the rule
bars common ownership of a broadcast station and a daily newspaper in the
same community. The newspaper industry followed by bringing suit to lift
the rule, but in FCC v. National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting, the
Supreme Court upheld the regulation because, it said, it promoted ownership
diversification and a diversity of viewpoints.
In its June 2 vote, the FCC's three-member Republican majority approved the
rules over the protestations of the agency's two-member Democratic
minority, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. However, soon after the FCC
gave the nod to these and other relaxations of ownership rules, a
three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in
Philadelphia issued an order barring enactment of the new rules until it
makes a judgment on their legitimacy, which has yet to occur. In addition,
a concerned Congress quickly stepped in and barred ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox
from buying TV stations that would raise their viewership coverage to more
than 35 percent of U.S. TV households. In doing so, lawmakers rejected the
FCC's attempt to raise the cap to 45 percent.
According to the FCC's September 13, 2001, "Order and Notice of Proposed
Rule Making" regarding cross-ownership, we can see the agency majority's
rationale for jettisoning the cross-ownership rule. In the notice, the
agency pointed out that when the FCC adopted the rule in 1975, its
rationale rested on "'the twin goals of diversity of viewpoints and
The Commission largely based the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule
in particular on the diversity goal, explaining that "it is essential to a
democracy that its electorate be informed and have access to divergent
viewpoints on controversial issues." The Commission reasoned that
structural regulation, such as the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership
rule, promotes diversification of ownership that in turn promotes
diversification of viewpoint, because "it is unrealistic to expect true
diversity from a commonly owned station-newspaper combination."
In its report, the FCC noted that as required by the Telecommunications Act
of 1996, it examined the efficacy of the newspaper/broadcast
cross-ownership policies and ultimately concluded that rule was still
serving the public interest ideal because it still worked to bolster
diversity by allowing the public a multiplicity of viewpoints that in turn
promote First Amendment values of the kind that the Supreme Court has said
"rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of
information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the
welfare of the public. . . ."
However, the agency added, in certain cases no harm would come to the
diversity ideal because, depending on the size of the market and the size
and type of newspaper and broadcast outlets involved, "sufficient diversity
and competition would remain if a newspaper/broadcast combination were
The report went on to note that when the rule was adopted in 1975, the
United States had about 1,700 daily newspapers, 7,500 radio stations, and
fewer than 1,000 TV stations. In addition, three nationwide commercial
networks had a combined prime time audience share of 95 percent. Since
then, the FCC noted, there has been an explosion in multimedia outlets. For
example, even though there are now fewer than 1,500 daily newspapers, there
are significantly more broadcast stations, but also new networks and new
"distribution platforms" that had not even been conceived of in 1975.
There are more than 12,000 radio stations, and more than 1,600 full-power
TV stations. Commercial TV stations distribute the programming of seven
national commercial networks, and cable television systems and satellite
carriers distribute multiples of that number. In the current 2000-2001 TV
season just completed, the four largest broadcast networks have a combined
prime time audience share of 50%, and basic cable networks have a combined
prime time audience share of 42%.
More specifically, the FCC noted that since 1975, the percentage of TV
households that cable TV systems serve had grown from 13 percent of
households to 67.4 percent, and that more than 200 video programming
services were available on cable systems. In addition, it pointed out,
direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers were also competing in the
market but were nonexistent in 1975. Also, the FCC report said, as of
November 2000, 56 percent of U.S. citizens had access to the Internet from
home – a service not available in 1975, but one which "has the potential to
be a significant source of local and national news and information, and, to
a limited though increasing extent, audio and video programming."
The Opponents' Arguments
Of course, as with most such actions by the FCC, the response to this
proposal was loud, ranged from both sides of the spectrum, and encompassed
political, ideological, and commercial arguments. However, this time
opposition to the new rules created some strange bedfellows in such groups
as the left-leaning National Organization for Women, and the right-leaning
National Rifle Association, both of which fear that concentration will mean
fewer outlets from which to express their views. In fact, the one
overriding theme of the opposition to such media-merging as relaxing the
cross-ownership rule has been the danger to democracy such consolidation
brings with it. For example, Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the editor-in-chief of
U.S. News and World Report, warns that allowing the dominant newspaper to
merge with the dominant TV station in a city could lead to local news
monopolies in 200 markets serving 98 percent of Americans, which could have
a huge effect on politics in this country. "Easing the rules on
cross-ownership means that in many local markets, one company could own its
leading daily newspaper – often, its only newspaper – its top-rated TV
station, the local cable company and five to eight radio stations. As
noted above in the FCC's report, Zuckerman points out that the diversity
inherent in the growing use of the Internet for news and exchange of
information has been used to defend cross-ownership. "Well, yes," he says.
"But does anyone really think the Internet is anything like an organized
political or media power, much less a counterweight to a claque of
billion-dollar media behemoths?"
Meanwhile, in a cogent argument against such media consolidation, C. Edwin
Baker posits that the legal and regulatory system is "giving up on
democracy," and is reflected (1) in the actions of policy makers –
especially in the FCC – who have jettisoned concerns with how a democratic
society can be sustained and promoted by regulating media ownership and who
look to the media as just another commodity, and (2) by making the market
the "measure of value."
Both in administrative realms and implicitly in lower court constitutional
decisions, there has been a fundamental shift away from the notion that the
government aim should be to promote a democratic communications order. The
new attitude is that the only goal of regulation should be to assure
efficient production of commodified media products within competitive
Tangential to this argument, but still within the ambit of maintaining a
viable democracy, is the case put forward by a leading communitarian
philosopher, Amitai Etzioni, and Elizabeth Tulis that cross-ownership
threatens the viability of civic life and community in America – and by
extension, democracy. It is an argument particularly reflective of FCC
Commissioner Michael J. Copps' dissent to the June 2, 2003, vote in which
he said: "This decision also allows the giant media companies to buy up the
remaining local newspaper and exert massive influence over some communities
by wielding three TV stations, eight radio stations, the cable operator,
and the already monopolistic newspaper. What public interest, what new
competition, is enabled by encouraging the newspaper monopoly and the
broadcasting oligopoly to combine?"
Etzioni and Tulis discount the claim by supporters of cross-ownership that
with the Internet and such network sources as FOX and CNN there is little
chance people will lack access to multiple viewpoints and that they will be
persuaded during times of political elections by biased points of view that
have no counterweight. The problem is, the authors argue, neither these
national media outlets nor the Internet are platforms of local forums –
"the Internet, in fact, promotes grouping according to national special
interests. So concerns that the suggested regulatory changes would be
community killers still stand."
This is precisely what regulators must not allow. Local communities are the
mainstay of a civil society. It is here that human beings actually join
together. It is here that voluntary associations, the bedrock of American
democracy, weave their web. It is in local communities that people truly
care for and listen to one another. As Rep. David Price [D-N.C.] put it,
the potential FCC decision "won't just affect our local TV news coverage. .
. . It will jeopardize democracy as we know it."
Etzioni and Tulis are not alone in their criticism of the proposition –
some might call it a myth – that diversity is an inherent characteristic of
the Internet. In fact, Matthew Hindman and Kenneth Neil Cukier, two fellows
at the National Center for Digital Government at Harvard University, say
their research shows just the opposite – "that there's an even greater
media concentration online than in the offline world." Their research
of three million pages in the online political communities showed "a
staggering degree of consolidation. For instance, although there are more
than 13,000 Web pages on the subject of gun control, two-thirds of all
hyperlinks point to the 10 most popular sites."
But aside from the apparently fallacious arguments grounded in
misconceptions about the Internet, two surveys have found that the FCC
based its local media ownership rules on flawed information, which has
prompted skepticism about the FCC's rationale for relaxing the entire gamut
of media ownership rules that it did. A national survey by the Consumer
Federation of America found that "newspapers are more than twice as
important a source of local news than the FCC found, and that radio and the
Internet are less than a third as important as the weight the Commission
accorded them." The problem is, according to the Consumers Union,
the FCC failed to ask which media the public rely on the most for news and
information about their community. Relaxing the cross-ownership rules, the
Consumer Union argues, "would create media Goliaths that would dominate
their local markets. Therefore, relaxed ownership rules that allow dominant
newspapers to combine with their most likely competitor – local broadcast
television stations – are extremely dangerous to the goal of promoting
diversity of viewpoints and competition for local news in public debate
about important civic issues."
Similarly, another poll, this time by the Pew Research Center for People
and the Press, found that most people still get their news from television
and newspapers, which prompted Gene Kimmelman, senior policy director of
the Consumers Union to say: "Because of the importance of mass media in the
democratic debate, the FCC must devise ownership rules based on clear
and consistent facts about market realities, not selective, inconsistent
concepts that don't pass the laugh test."
In addition, others opposed to relaxing the rule see it as one more step
toward diminishing the quality and veracity of news and of promoting the
venality of the business side of journalism. One such opponent is the
Communications Workers of America, which filed objections to the new rules
and cited testimony from some of its 100,000 members who described the
egregious effects on quality journalism by media concentration. For
example, one TV columnist told how cross-ownership affected what he wrote
and where it went in his paper. "When the Nielsen TV ratings come out, I
know I am expected to write a big story if the co-owned station's ratings
are good and to bury the story if the co-owned station's ratings are down."
An Argument From the Past
It may well be that the media have changed in many different ways since the
only mass media were printed newspapers and magazines. However, the
arguments regarding the commodification of the media and its ill effects on
civic society have not. Turn the pages back more than nine decades ago to a
March 1910 essay titled "The Suppression of Important News" by Edward
Alsworth Ross, the noted sociologist, writer, popular lecturer, and
University of Wisconsin professor who was also well-known for his
celebrated dismissal from Leland Stanford University in 1900 over the
question of his right to speak out as a reformer on public issues. Below I
will go into his remarks in some depth because of both of the relevancy of
what he had to say then to today's circumstances and because his arguments
are cogent, still applicable, and reveal that like so much in history, very
little is really new.
Certainly, Ross noted, the newspapers sensationalize the news, emphasize
the trivial aspects of life, invade people's privacy, and stretch the
truth. But, he argued, "(t)he newspaper cannot be expected to remain
dignified and serious now that it caters to the common millions, instead
of, as formerly, to professional and business classes." But while
justly criticized, Ross wrote, there is one much more "damning count"
against the daily newspaper – "It does not give the news." Despite the
waning of venality and the influx of "better men" into journalism, despite
the many muck-raking reporters, and despite the technological improvements
in newsgathering, the news was "deliberately being suppressed or
Ross laid the blame for this suppression and distortion on three economic
factors. The first of these the "commercialization of the press" needed to
sustain the "capitalistic enterprise" the modern newspaper had become and
the concomitant "drifting of ultimate control into the hands of men with
business motives." (Recall the remarks of the CATO Institute's Adam
Thierer in the introduction.) According to Ross:
More and more the owner of the big daily is a business man who finds it
hard to see why he should run his property on different lines from the
hotel proprietor, the vaudeville manager, or the owner of an amusement
park. The editors are hired men, and they may put into the paper no more of
their conscience and ideals than comports with getting the biggest return
from the investment. … The capitalist-owner means no harm, but he is not
bothered by the standards that hamper the editor-owner. He follows a few
simple maxims that work out well enough in selling shoes or cigars or
sheet-music. "Give people what they want, not what you want." "Back nothing
that will be unpopular." "Run the concern for all it is worth."
The second factor, Ross argued, was the growth of newspaper advertising,
and because "(h)e who pays the piper calls the tune," the advertiser
censors both the news columns and the editorial page, which are "a mere
incident in the profitable sale of mercantile publicity."
The dissemination of news and the purveyance of publicity are two
essentially distinct functions which, for the sake of convenience, are
carried on by the same agency. The one appeals to subscribers, the other to
advertisers. The one calls for good faith, the other does not. The one is
the corner-stone of liberty and democracy, the other a convenience of
commerce. Now, the purveyance of publicity is becoming the main concern of
the newspaper, and threatens to throw quite into the shade the
communication of news or opinions.
Finally, Ross concluded, the third development undermining the old ideal of
newspapering was the "subordination of newspaper to other enterprises," in
which an owner's other investments may hold sway over the news and opinion
pages of the newspaper. "The magnate-owner may find it to his advantage
not to run it as a newspaper pure and simple, but to make it – on the sly –
an instrument for coloring certain kinds of news, diffusing certain
misinformation, or fostering certain impressions or prejudices in its
clientele. In a word, he may shape its policy by non-journalistic
But in addition to such "thralldom," Ross warned, the other investments of
which the newspaper is only one of many way well color the news and
opinions that go into that newspaper. How could it be any other way, Ross
said, for "when the shares of a newspaper lie in the safe-deposit box cheek
by jowl with gas, telephone, and pipe-line stock, a tenderness for these
collateral interests is likely to affect the news-columns."
The Advocates' Arguments
Of course, supporters of relaxing ownership rules are in accord with the
FCC majority's technological-advancement rationale, arguing that the old
regulations were much out of date with the rules being adopted almost 30
years before the onslaught of local broadcast stations, cable channels,
satellite delivery, and the Internet. "Now, the argument goes, there's so
much content available from so many different sources, no one should worry
that allowing further consolidation of ownership would limit that
In fact, Judith Aarons, in the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media &
Entertainment Law Journal, concludes that the cross-ownership rule is not
needed because the exponential growth in the number and variety of media
outlets such as cable television, weekly newspapers, direct broadcast
satellite television, and the Internet guarantees diverse viewpoints will
have a platform. The rule, she says, "threatens diversity by limiting the
industry's ability to respond to the decline of network television and the
economic difficulties being faced by daily newspapers." Furthermore, she
argues, broadcast and print media are the same and should receive equal
treatment under the First Amendment. "Any anticompetitive threats from
media oligopolies may be properly dealt with through the application of
Further, writer Jennifer G. Hickey rejects the premise that consolidation
through cross-ownership would have any effect on the diversity ideal. She
cites a study by the FCC's Media Ownership Working Group in September 2002
that found that cross-ownership among those station-newspaper combinations
grandfathered in before the 1975 rule or that have received waivers "did
not necessarily mean parroted coverage." The study found, Hickey said, that
an analysis of coverage by 10 cross-owned newspapers and TV stations during
the 2000 presidential election showed that in five cases "'the slant of the
newspaper's coverage of the last two weeks of the 2000 campaign was
meaningfully different from the slant of the television station's
coverage,' but with five other cases the slants were not meaningfully
different." In addition, she cites another study of grandfathered media
companies that own both TV stations and newspapers in the same city – New
York City and Milwaukee – that revealed a distinct diversity in coverage on
the same topic.
Similarly, John F. Sturm, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of
America in a letter to The Washington Post, in December 23, 2003, noted
that since 1975, when the rules went into effect, no one has presented any
"credible evidence" that the "more than 40" grandfathered
newspaper-broadcast combinations have harmed media competition or public
service."  In addition, Sturm, in a Columbia Journalism Review article
by Neil Hickey, reiterated that 40 communities across America have
cross-ownerships that existed before the rule or have received special
dispensation, and the public can point to no harm from those
cross-ownerships. "Our opponents' arguments are all theoretical – no data,
just words. 'Awful things will happen,' they warned. Well guess what?
Nothing awful has happened. Case closed."
In fact, argues J. Stewart Bryan III, chairman and chief executive of Media
General Inc. – which owns the converged News Center in Tampa, Florida
– cross-ownership will not only do no harm, but it will lead to better
local news for both large and small communities because of economies of
scale created by cross-ownership. "Cross-ownership is a top-line strategy,
not a cost-cutting tactic. Consumers know the difference, and they know how
to change channels and newspaper subscriptions."
Similarly, Janet Kolodzky argues in the Columbia Journalism Review that, if
done correctly, cross-ownership can lead to better journalism. History
shows us, she says, that competition does not always equate with diversity
of opinion and quality news. "Convergence means cooperative relationships
between television, online, and print media. In places where this already
exists, good journalism still flourishes. In some cities, local or regional
cable news networks have developed relationships with newspapers, and
diversity of opinion hasn't suffered."
Finally, however, Jonathan A. Knee argues that this whole issue may well be
moot. Ending the cross-ownership rules may have little effect not because
of any salient factors, but because he expects few media concerns are
interested in such purchases – whether it be TV stations buying newspapers
in their locales or vice versa. That's because, he says, few broadcast
firms are interested in newspapers, few properties ever come up for sale,
and few such possible purchases would equate to an economically efficient
overlap. "(T)here is no reason to expect that such deregulation would
fundamentally alter the media ownership landscape. While the ideological
debates over the cross-ownership issue are healthy, it is useful to keep in
mind that, at least with respect to TV and newspapers, they may in the end
be much ado about very little."
Still, while Knee's argument is cogent and well-evidenced, it tends not to
comport with the implicit desires of the many media companies and their
advocates who in their public pronouncements regularly ground their
arguments for lifting the cross-ownership rules in economic-efficiency and
economies of scale. One has to ask why they would expend so much time and
money – hundreds of millions according to some press reports – lobbying and
arguing from this economic stance and then not attempt to take advantage of
a new regulatory regime. And so, I would conclude, this entire debate by
competing interests with entirely different visions about the role of the
media in our life is substantive and tectonic. It is not, as Knee would
have it, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Convergence at Work Now
In fact, we can see an exemplar of just such a cross-owned converged media
site – and one which is often used as an example to argue in favor of
relaxing the ban – in Media General's tripartite News Center housed in a
high-rise on a river in downtown Tampa, Florida. Consisting of The Tampa
Tribune; WFLA, an NBC affiliate; and TBO (Tampa Bay Online), the News
Center is billed as the world's first and largest convergence facility. And
Gil Thelen, the bow-tied and bearded publisher of The Tampa Tribune, is an
ardent advocate of just such a cross-pollination of journalistic effort,
which, he says, leads to better journalism and better service to both
readers and viewers. It is a better product, he said, because convergence
is transparency among the three news operations. That is, the daily news
shares the "best combination of people" in covering the news. It also
allows overlap from one platform to another. For example, Thelen noted,
WFLA's consumer reporter also writes a column for The Tribune, and the
three operations also share in projects and investigations. "We are
smarter together," Thelen said.
Thelen said he sees convergence doing little to harm diversity – "the
voices question" – as he called it. When asked how he would respond to
fellow publisher Frank Blethen of The Seattle Times who has testified
before Congress that relaxing the cross-ownership rules would eliminate the
multiplicity of voices needed in the marketplace of ideas, Thelen said that
in markets "size 60 or larger" there is enough diversity and competition
that such convergence is not going to "still voices." However, he noted, in
smaller markets it is a "relevant question" where buyers with the "wrong
kinds of motives" can create "a serious situation."
"Blethen is right about small markets, but he is not right about larger
markets," Thelen said.
What is the difference?
The discourse reflected in the range of opposing and often overlapping
arguments over rules regulating an industry so invested in every facet of
our society puts into relief and pins to the wall of our consciousness the
very mechanisms that drive that self-same society. Where one stands on the
media's role in our society has a lot to do with what the first President
Bush described as the "vision thing." As may be recalled, the term "vision
thing" was often used as a pejorative to denigrate Bush's seeming inability
to set a course for the nation. But I also believe it speaks volumes about
a kind of functional perspective toward the institutions that comprise our
society that is endemic in our national dialogue. The "vision thing" is a
discrete, utilitarian notion that objectifies the concept of "vision." It
allows parties to set it off on a shelf, only to be brought out like a tool
from a kit box when circumstances demand.
On the other hand, "vision" is coterminous with our thoughts and actions –
it is immanent. It is the ingredient without which the dish would fail. We
cannot separate it out from our body politic without radical amputation.
For instance, the very idea of democracy is not a settled matter. Vision is
ensconced in the idea of democracy. Vision is to democracy as a core value
is to a corporation. That is, we are constantly building it, constantly
striving toward an ideal that shifts in focus as we draw nearer. I would
argue that those who view the media as a commodity whose only measure of
value is the market lack an immanent vision. And forsaking a civic vision
about the media's plurivalent role in society and retreating to an economic
perspective, it is not a far walk from equating the media with appliances
or fast food.
We can see this perspective most clearly among the foes of regulation who
call for jettisoning pretty much all rules and using anti-trust laws to
deal with any anticompetitive threats from the shrinking handful of media
goliaths. This, of course, speaks only to the market side of media – not
the societal dimension. And it is the societal dimension, I would posit,
that defines our immanent vision of the media's role in our civic life and
answers the question: What is the difference?
It is nothing new to say that the media are entwined into the very fabric
of our society and have been from the very beginning when the press was
enshrined into the First Amendment, a protection and a vaunted place given
to no other industry. This inscription into the very text of our nation's
foundation was a product of vision, of an understanding of the special role
of the press in sustaining the ideals of our society. It was a vision drawn
from such philosophers as Locke and Milton and the notion of a "marketplace
of ideas." It was a vision that our founders had seen made concrete by the
events of their times. And it was so much an accepted common vision that
the writers of our constitution left it out because they believed it went
without saying. However, those who understood well the insidious side of
power – both political and commercial – that lacks prohibitions rallied to
make it part of the Bill of Rights, though it is a misreading of history to
say its importance is reflected in its primary place because there were
other amendments listed before it that failed to muster support.
But to ground this argument in something other than diaphanous "vision," we
can draw on the pragmatic William James or the instrumental John Dewey.
That is, the media's "truth" is found in its usefulness to our lives,
involving, as James described it, its "cash value" – in this case the
payoff of democracy and interstitial community. To divest the media of that
role and to instead entirely commodify it would put us on a slippery slope
to something other than democracy – a Blade Runner dystopia comes to mind.
A commodified media may well create community, but it would be one of
consumers grounded in consumerist values, not in the values of commonality
as the source of an interstitial community.
To that point, the scholar C. Edwin Baker has noted that because "(t)he
media is a huge non-democratically organized force that has major power
over politics, public discourse, and culture," many Americans from across
the ideological spectrum "see media concentration as a problem and
dispersed ownership as crucial for democracy." That is because our
immanent vision dictates that the free flow of diverse civic-oriented
information is the life-blood of a representative democracy. Access to
diverse points of view and perspectives allows the members of a democracy
to participate without having an actual seat in government. We depend on
the media in a nation of many millions to act as a watchdog and check on
public officials and hold them accountable. We also rely on the media's
ability to make cohesive the disparate voices of a pluralistic world and to
help create an interstitial community grounded in commonality.
It could be argued that to ignore the efficacy of our root vision – in this
case relaxing the cross-ownership rule – and therefore allow a growing
media corporatocracy to constrict that flow of information in the interest
of maximum profits derived from vertical integration and economies of scale
would cut off the life-blood of democracy and its concomitant community and
would end – eventually – in a gangrenous state.
"The Newshour With Jim Lehrer," 12 February 2004,
(19 February 2004).
 Judith Aarons, "Cross-Ownership's Last Stand? The Federal
Proposal Concerning the Repeal of the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership
Rule," Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal,
Fall 2002, Lexis-Nexis, (9 February 2004).
 "In the Matter of Cross-Ownership of Broadcast Stations and Newspapers
Newspaper/Radio Cross-Ownership Waiver Policy," Order and Notice of
Proposed Rule Making, 13 September 2001,
 Owen D. Kurtin, "Media Ownership Limits," National Law Journal, 18
August 2003, Lexis-Nexis, (5 February 2004).
 Mortimer B. Zuckerman, "Media-Merger Ruling Imperils Democracy," Daily
News (New York), 2 July 2003, Lexis-Nexis, (9 February 2004).
 C. Edwin Baker, "Media Concentration: Giving Up on Democracy,"
Florida Law Review, December 2002, Lexis-Nexis, (6 February 2004).
 "Deregulating the Media: Excerpts from Statements Issued by
Commission Members after the Vote," The New York Times, 3 June 2003,
Lexis-Nexis, (9 February 2004).
 Amitai Etzioni and Elizabeth Tulis, "No Talk of the Town: Proposed
FCC Rules Risk More National Control of Newspapers and TV. But Without
Local Media, Communities Die," Legal Times, 2 June 2003, Lexis-Nexis (6
 Matthew Hindman and Kenneth Neil Cukier, "More News, Less Diversity,"
The New York Times, 2 June 2003, Lexis-Nexis, (9 February 2004).
 "New Survey Finds Americans Rely on Newspapers Much More Than Other
Media for Local News and Information: FCC Media Ownership Rules Based on
Flawed Data," Consumers Union, January 2004,
(5 February 2004).
 "Rollback of FCC Media Ownership Rules Vital," Consumer Union press
release, 14 January 2004, <http://www.consumersunion.org> (9 February
2004), Pew survey available at:
 "Communications Workers Warn of Dangers of Media Concentration,"
Industrial Worker, 28 February 2003, 10,
(5 February 2004).
 Edward Alsworth Ross, "The Suppression of Important News," The
Atlantic Monthly, March 1910, 303.
 Ibid., 304.
 Ibid., 305.
 Deborah Potter, "The Big Get Bigger," American Journalism Review,
August/September 2003, Lexis-Nexis, (9 February 2004).
 Judith Aarons, "Cross-Ownership's Last Stand?
 Jennifer G. Hickey, "The Death of Diversity," Insight, 7 July 2003,
Lexis-Nexis, (9 February 2004).
 John F. Sturm, "Good Partners in Good Journalism," The Washington
Post, 20 December 2003, Lexis-Nexis, (6 February 2004).
 J. Stewart Bryan III, "More Media Cross-Ownership Will Help, Not
Hurt, Local News," Business Week, October 13, 2003, Lexis-Nexis, (9
 Janet Kolodzky, "Everything That Rises: Media Convergence is an
Opportunity, not a Curse," July/August 2003, Columbia Journalism Review,
<http://www.cjr.org/issues/2003/4/voices-kolodzy.asp> (9 February 2004).
 Jonathan A. Knee, "False Alarm at the FCC? Ending TV-newspaper
Cross-Ownership Rules May Have Little Effect," Columbia Journalism Review,
May/June 2003, Lexis-Nexis, (6 February 2004).
 Speech given by Gil Thelen to the Association for Education in
Journalism and Mass Communication in Tampa, Florida, 5 March 2004.
 Baker, "Media Concentration: Giving Up on Democracy."