Friday, May 30, 2003

Wired - Media More Diverse? - Not Really

"If we look at measures of concentration in media markets, what we find is there's not the diversity that we thought," Murray said. "Yes, there are 500 channels on cable television, but five companies control the same market share that the three networks did in the 1970s."

The prospect of concentration of ownership has brought together strange bedfellows -- the National Rifle Association, the Catholic Conference, the Writers Guild of America, the National Organization for Women -- to oppose lifting the restrictions., a civil rights advocacy group, espoused the same conclusion in a recent newspaper advertising campaign (PDF), which featured pictures of media mogul Rupert Murdoch under the banner, "This Man Wants to Control the News in America." The group claims that five companies -- Murdoch's News Corp., Disney, Viacom, GE and AOL Time Warner -- control 75 percent of the total U.S. television audience and 90 percent of the television news audience for broadcast and cable.

In a Thursday report, media analysts at JPMorgan predicted that FCC commissioners will approve the broad relaxation. The most significant changes are expected to be the loosening of rules that prevent companies from owning newspapers and television stations in the same market, and the end of a limit of on the number of stations a company can own nationally.

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