Tag Archives: #mediaownership

The End of the Web as We Know It?

Net Neutrality can be defined as the principle that Internet service providers have to treat all the data that is on the Internet the same. So this basically this means companies like Time Warner Cable and Comcast (Internet Service Providers; ISP’s) are not allowed discriminate on any site based on content, its users, etc. Until recently Net Neutrality is a rule that the ISP’s in the United States had to abide by thanks to the FCC. However, a judge recently struck down what little control over Net Neutrality the FCC had. Thus making big companies like Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast the new gatekeepers of the Internet.

Advocates for Net Neutrality are worried that without it these large companies will block or even slow down the content that they don’t own or whatever they would choose. While opponents of Net Neutrality claim that these ISP’s have no plans block content or lower network performance. However, there have been signs that the ISP’s will start doing that seeing as Comcast has already slowed peer-to-peer (P2P) communications with other companies beginning to do the same. Opponents also say that with the FCC controlling Net Neutrality there are many privacy concerns. With the FCC controlling the Internet it makes it easier for the government to view what you are doing on the Internet. Unfortunately, these big companies will also be able to monitor what you’re doing on the Internet and use it for their financial advantage.

With Net Neutrality controlled by the FCC the people that benefited were the creators and the users. But with it now controlled by the ISP’s, the ISP’s are who benefit because they are the ones that can and may make a profit.

These ISP’s are not only in the Internet Service Provider business but they are also in the media business, so there is nothing stopping them from picking favorites when it comes to you accessing the web. This cut of Net Neutrality also hurts creators, if these ISP’s decide to block sites and have people pay more or even the creators pay more to view them, that money doesn’t go to the website it goes straight to the company. Its technically cutting off the audience of these sites thus cutting the income these sites receive. Granted none of this has actually started yet and may not, but without Net Neutrality it does give them that power.

Take this for example if we pay for electricity in our house why should the electricity companies decide what we do with our electricity. Same with paying for water and gas, they can’t take away your right to do with it as you please as long as you pay. So, why should paying for Internet be any different?



Regulating Ownership of Network Programming: The Rise of Major Media Conglomerates

Category: Ownership & Control

Issue: Regulating Ownership of Network Programming

Originally, the FCC’s fin-syn system was implemented in 1970, which was the FCC’s financial interest and syndication rules for the regulation of ownership and control of television programming.  These fin-syn regulations were enacted to limit the “ability of the 3 major TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) to acquire financial interests or syndication rights in the television programming” as well as “to limit network control over television programming and thereby encourage the development of a diversity of programs through diverse sources of program services. (FCC 1995)” (Croteau & Hoynes 87).

However, in 1993 the U.S. district court ruled in favor of relaxing the fin-syn regulations so that the networks were not subject to these regulations because the competition between cable stations and the materialization of new networks prevented the large media conglomerates from monopolizing production and syndication (Croteau & Hoynes 87).  The U.S. district courts ruled this way because of the new changes in technology that started happening in the early to mid 1990’s.

Now, networks can acquire financial interests in and syndication rights to all network programming. This encouraged vertical integration; networks turned to studios that they owned or their corporate partners owned to produce more of their programming.  The large media conglomerates argued that “monopolistic control is no longer possible because we live in a diverse world with many options” (Croteau & Hoynes 88).  However, this is not the case.

By relaxing the old fin-syn regulations, major media conglomerates that owned many media outlets flourished, especially those that owned their own studios.  Independent and smaller media producers were constrained and even harmed by the relaxation of the old fin-syn regulations.  This is because major media conglomerates, like ABC, NBC, Fox, and CW were able to produce 90% of the series on major networks as well as being able to have financial interests in half of all of the prime-time programming. (Croteau & Hoynes 88).

The main debate between structure and agency in this case is that the “structure that protects the media industry’s copyright claims also constrained it’s ability to produce and resell its products” (Croteau & Hoynes 88). While “the agency of the media industry is seen in its ability to promote changes that favored the major networks” (Croteau & Hoynes 88).  Basically this debate between structure and agency in this case is that the same regulatory structure that protected the media industry copyright laws made it harder for those media industries to produce and sell its products while the actions of the media industry started to create regulations to favor the larger media conglomerates.

The regulation in question is the FCC’s fin-syn regulation, which was uplifted in 1993, which ruled that networks were not subject to this regulation anymore because of the new advancements in technology.  If the regulation was written in favor of the ‘other side,’ which in this case would be independent and smaller media producers, then more small and independent networks would still have the ability to make independent TV and cable stations.  The smaller networks would then have a equal chance against the large conglomerates networks that take up a lot of the prime-time programming slots because it does not cost as much for them. This is because the major media conglomerate vertically integrated with their studios, that either they owned or that their corporate partners owned, to produce more of their programming.

A suggestion I have for altering the regulation to improve them would be to go back to something similar to the FCC’s fin-syn system because the FCC’s fin-syn system initially imposed constraints on networks (mainly large media networks) so they could not monopolize or oligopolize network programming.  My recommendation is to impose a regulation that does not allow network companies, large or small, to acquire all financial interests and syndication rights to all network programming.  This would make the large media conglomerates not be able to use their own or their partners’ studios to produce more of their programming, which would require the large media conglomerates to pay another studio to produce their programming.  I think that this would not necessarily equal the playing field of network programming between small and large networks because the major media conglomerates already have a lot of money, so they are probably still able to take up a lot of the networking and prime-time slots, while the small and independent media producers were harmed from the inaction of the fin-syn regulations, and probably can not afford to show their programming in prime-time slots.  However it would give the small or independent media producers a higher chance of being able to get their programming on television, and therefore steadily making more money so that they can compete for TV time slots.

Source Cited:

Croteau, D. & Hoynes, W. (2014). Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences. Thousand Oaks, California. SAGE Publications.

The FCC and Radio Ownership

Have you ever been driving in your car listening to your favorite radio station and noticed that the frequency was probably something like 97.3 or 104.7 and that when you go down to the lower channels like 89.1 they are static?

That’s because the more popular stations pay more to broadcast at higher frequencies with less static. While government regulation of media ownership and control has become more dominant in the scope of the Internet, radio regulation is still being heavily enforced.

As a result of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, a single entity could only own up to 20 FM and AM stations. Today though, there is no limit to radio station ownership, thus the concentration and distribution of media is limited.

Like the pirate radio renegades from the 1960s in Europe, the United States has their own set of pirates, but instead of advocating for political freedom and more Beatles music, these pirates are mostly broadcasting about their niche networks, hobbies and favorite tunes.

It is people like Doug Brewer from Chapter 3 (a.k.a. Craven Moorehead), a Florida resident who was illegally broadcasting his “Tampa’s Party Pirate” station to everyone, that is an advocate for the “pirate radio” system.

The FCC came into Brewer’s home and confiscated his material that he was using to broadcast on. The FCC, government and the media network’s main argument for shutting down these pirate radio stations is that the unlicensed signals will interfere or drown out their other broadcasting channels, as well as other forms of communication like cell phones and TV signals.

On the other hand, people like Brewer argue that low frequency stations do not pose any threat to the higher powered stations and instead, it is the corporations that want to keep the smaller stations out.

One key point of this discussion is that, “if Brewer had produced a magazine or a website, he would have been protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment,” (Croteau, Hoynes p 79).

This is one of the main reasons why I think the FCC should improve their stance on “pirate radio” by giving out licensing to smaller micro stations because it will ensure that they are still being “regulated” in everyone’s best interest, but it will also allow the smaller stations to have airwaves.

The FCC and the other commercial broadcasters need to come to an agreement but the hardest part about ensuring equal opportunity of the airwaves, is that companies and corporations have control due to lobbying power to make executive decisions to keep smaller radio stations from getting licenses.

If pirate radio operators are forced into radio retirement, how are the little guys supposed to succeed?