Quotes from Rich Media, Poor Democracy, by Robert McChesney


- ‘I argue in this book that if we are serious about democracy, we will need to reform the media system structurally. The evidence points inexorably to this conclusion.’ (ix)
- ‘Noam Chomsky’s work on media and, especially, democracy, has been central to my education in politics.’ (xi)
- ‘I argue in this book that the media have become a significant antidemocratic force in the United States and, to varying degrees, worldwide. The wealthier and more powerful the corporate media giants have become, the poorer the prospects for participatory democracy.’ (2)
- ‘Capitalism works best when elites make most fundamental decisions and the bulk of the population is depoliticized. For a variety of reasons, the media have come to be expert at generating the type of fare that suits, and perpetuates, the status quo.’ (3)
- ‘This book, then, is about the corporate media explosion and the corresponding implosion of public life, the rich media/poor democracy paradox.’ (3)
- ‘The United States is in the midst of an almost dizzying transformation of its media system.’ (16)
- ‘The U.S. film production industry has been a tight-knit club effectively controlled by six or seven studios since the 1930s.’ (17)
- ‘The newspaper industry underwent a spectacular consolidation from the 1960s to the 1980s, leaving a half-dozen major chains ruling the roost.’ (18)
- ‘With Bertelsmann’s purchase of Random House, the U.S. book publishing industry is now dominated by seven firms. And with Seagram’s $10.4 billion purchase of PolyGram, the five largest music groups account for over 87 percent of the U.S. market.’ (18)
- ‘In cable television systems, six firms now possess effective monopolistic control over more than 80 percent of the nation.’ (18)
- ‘Radio station ownership, which I return to at the end of this chapter, has gone through a stunning transformation in the late 1990s, leaving four newly created giants with one-third of the industry’s annual revenues of $13.6 billion.’ (18)
- ‘But concentrating upon specific media sectors fails to convey the extent of concentrated corporate control. The dominant trend since the 1970s or 1980s, which has accelerated in the 1990s, is the conglomeration of media ownership. This is the process whereby media firms began to have major holdings in two or more distinct sectors of the media, such as book publishing, recorded music, and broadcasting.’ (19)
- ‘After the massive wave of media mergers and acquisitions since 1983, Bagdikian has reduced the number of dominant firms, until the most recent edition of The Media Monopoly in 1997 put the figure at around ten, with another dozen or so firms rounding out the system.’ (19)
- ‘The ‘first tier’ of media conglomerates includes Time Warner, Disney, Viacom, Seagram, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and Sony, all connected to the big six film studios. The remaining first-tier media giants include General Electric, owner and NBC, and AT&T, which in 1998 purchased TCI, the cable powerhouse with vast holdings in scores of other media enterprises. GE (1998 sales: $100 billion), AT&T-TCI (1997 sales: $58 billion), and Sony (1997 sales: $51 billion) are all enormous firms, among the largest in the world.’ (19)
- ‘ ‘Cross-promotion offers incredible efficiencies, while cross-selling promises major opportunities,’ Variety notes, in explaining the drive to conglomeration. Hence, if a media conglomerate had a successful motion pictures, it could promote the film on its broadcast properties and then use the film to spin off television programs, musical CDs, books, merchandise, and much else.’ [e.g,. Marvel, Star Wars, Disney/McDonald’s, Harry Potter] (22)
- ‘What is clear right now is that small independent publishers and recording companies play an indispensable part in the overall system of providing content that is too risky for the giants to consider. Then, if the fare proves successful, the big firms can begin to produce it, or even buy up the independent. This is the case in the film industry, where independents account for only 5 percent of industry revenues but serve an important creative function for the giants. By 1998 almost all of the Hollywood ‘indies’ were either owned outright by a major studio of effectively affiliated with one otherwise. Independents have become a source of low-risk profit-making for the media giants, giving the latter near total control over the industry. ‘Lone wolf production companies,’ Variety noted in 1998, ‘have become integral to the corporate studio filmmaking process.’ The notion that independents might sprout up to challenge the existing giants is dead.’ (26)
- ‘Each of the eight largest U.S. media firms have, on average, joint ventures (often more than one) with five of the other seven media giants.’ (28)
- ‘The media in the United States effectively represent the interests of corporate America.’ Peter Phillips, ‘Self Censorship with the Homogeneity of the Media Elite”, Censored 1998 (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1998), chap. 5. (29)
- ‘Many of the wealthiest Americans generated their bounty through their holdings in media properties. Some 17 percent of the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans derived their wealth primarily from media, entertainment, or computer software. Exactly 20 percent of the fifty largest family fortunes were derived therefrom.’ (29)
- ‘By any known theory of democracy, such a concentration of economic, cultural, and political power into so few hands – and mostly unaccountable hands at that – is absurd and unacceptable.’ (30)
- ‘Of the eight dominant media firms, four have owners with enough stock to wield absolute control over their firms: These are Viacom (Sumner Redstone), News Corporation (Rupert Murdoch), Seagram (Edgar Bronfman), and AT&T’s Liberty Media (John Malone).’ (30)
- ‘Let me offer a few provisos to my critique of the U.S. media system. When one assesses the effects of the nature of the media system upon media consent, it is usually difficult to isolate one variable as determinative. The core structural factors that influence the nature of media content include the overall pursuit of profit, the size of the firm, the amount of direct and indirect competition facing the firm and the nature of that competition, the degree of horizontal and vertical integration, the influence of advertising, the specific interests of media owners and managers and, to a lesser extent, media employees.’ (31)
- ‘Young creative people entering the industry learn early on the necessary values to achieve success. While creativity is a factor that breathes continual life into the media system, it is always an uphill fight. By its very nature the commercial system mitigates against creativity and has a difficult time establishing original commercially successful fare.’ (32)
- ‘In the mid-1970s, foreign films accounted for over 10 percent of the of the box office at U.S. theaters. Every decent-sized city had one or more theaters specializing in foreign films, and Manhattan alone had two dozen such theaters. By the mid-1980s the percentage of box office accounted for by foreign films were around 7 percent, and by the late 1990s it is down to under .5 percent. By the logic of the ‘give the people what they want’ thesis, this development would reflect the fact that the American people decided that they were no longer interested in seeing non-U.S. films. But it was nothing like that at all. Instead, what this reflected was the rise to dominance in the United States of the chain-owned megaplex movie theaters.’ (33)
- ‘Concentrated media control permits the largest media firms to increasingly commercialize their output with less and less fear of consumer reprisal.’ (34-35)
- ‘It has become increasingly difficult to distinguish editorial from explicitly commercial fare, even from advertising. Of course nothing could ever indicate the folly of the notion that the commercial media system ‘gives the people what they want’ more than the rise of this commercial carpetbombing. It there is anything people to not want or have not wanted, it is to be pummeled by commercialism at every turn.’ (35)
- ‘The logic of the corporate media system is to draw everything into the commercial web and to use marketing principles to maximize profit.’ (36)
- ‘In addition to shaping what manuscripts are considered market-worthy and what authors ‘bankable,’ there is increased pressure to publish and record writers and artists whose work complements products produced in other branches of these far-flung empires.’ (37)
- ‘The big commercial publishers are emulating the Hollywood model of seeking out super-profitable blockbuster bestsellers and eschewing titles that might sell moderately well but have little chance of attaining blockbuster status. Moreover, concentration within the industry has been accompanied by a sharp decrease in the attention given to book quality. While the number of books published has increased 42 percent since 1991, the number of book editors has declined by 11 percent over the same period,and by 16 percent in New York, where all the giants are headquartered.’ [e.g. celebrity books] (37-38)
- ‘A similar shakeout among magazine distributors has had the effect of seeing small- and middle-circulation magazines increasingly dropped from newsstands, as it is more profitable for distributors with semimonopolistic holds on local and regional markets to concentrate on the handful of mass circulation titles that generate the most sales.’ (38)
- ‘The sheer number of television ads has increased considerably on broadcast television in the past decade. All of the TV networks have increased the percentage of time devoted to advertising in the 1990s, with Disney’s ABC the champion, having increased the amount of time give [sic] to commercials by 34 percent since 1989.Some $120 billion is being spent by advertisers on U.S. media in 1998, and around $200 billion is being spent on U.S. advertising overall.’ (39)
- ‘In all, some twenty-eight U.S. major league sport franchises are now controlled by media companies.’ (44)
- ‘The box office for its Beauty and the Beast stage play has been $500 million, generating an operating income of $200 million. Its subsequent stage version of The Lion King is producing similar numbers. Other Hollywood studios are making plans for their own stage forays. All of these trends culminate in the rampant commercialization of U.S. childhood. Children and young people are seen as singularly important for advertisers.’ (45)
- ‘In 1998 broadcasters began targeting one-year-olds to get a toehold on the youth market. In a moment of candor, one Time Warner children’s television conceded that ‘there’s something vaguely evil’ about programming to kids that young.’ (46)
- ‘Channel One, an advertising-supported television program for use in schools, is now shown in twelve thousand U.S. schools – some 40 percent of the total number of schools.’ (47)
- ‘The other side of the coin of commercialization is the decline and marginalization of any public service values among the media.’ (48)
- ‘To avoid the controversy associated with determining what is a legitimate news story, professional journalism relies upon official sources as the basis for stories. This gives those in positions of power (and the public relations industry, which developed at the exact same time as professional journalism) considerable ability to influence what is covered in the news. Moreover, professional journalism tends to demands ‘news hooks’ – some sort of news event – to justify publication. This means that long-term public issues, like racism or suburban sprawl, tend to fall by the wayside, and there is little emphasis on providing the historical and ideological context necessary to bring public issues to life for readers. Finally, professional journalism internalizes the notion that business is the proper steward of society, so that the stunning combination of ample flattering attention to the affairs of business in the news with a virtual blackout of labor coverage is taken as ‘natural.’ ’ (49-50)
- ‘While the media on occasion will analyze school budgets, public broadcasting proposals, and health care and welfare spending in detail to see if the monies are being spent wisely, there is barely any media examination of the military budget, which is in effect a cash cow for powerful elements of the corporate community. Members of the press, to the extent they even recognize the problem, defend their lack of interest in military spending by noting that the dominant political parties are not debating the matter so therefore it is not a legitimate issue.’ (50)
- ‘The decline, even collapse, of journalism as a public service is apparent in every facet of the media. For network and national cable television, news has gone from being a loss-leader and a mark of network prestige to being a major producer of network profit. At present, NBC enjoys what is regarded as ‘the most profitable broadcast news division in the history of television,’ with annual advertising revenues topping $100 million. NBC s renowned not so much for the quality of its news as for its extraordinary success in squeezing profit from it. NBC uses QNBC, a high-tech statistical service, to analyze its news reports to see exactly how its desired target audience is reacting to different news stories, and to the ads.’ (51)
- ‘Our big corporate owners, infected with the greed that marks the end of the 20th Century, stretch constantly for ever-increasing profit, condemning quality to take the hindmost.’ Walter Cronkite (52)
- ‘As Reeves notes, what has been regarded as good journalism is seen as very bad business by those who rule the media world.’ (52)
- ‘CNN and 60 Minutes periodically do investigative reports, too, that remind one of what journalism is supposed to be. But regrettably these are the exceptions that go against the trajectory, and most journalists who remain in the commercial news media come to internalize the dominant values if they wish to be successful and to be at peace with themselves.’ (53)
- ‘But the main concern of the media giants is to make journalism directly profitable, and there are a couple of proven ways to do that. First, lay off as many reporters as possible. The corporate news media has been doing this is spurts since the mid-1980s, and several of the network TV news operations made major layoffs again in 1998. Second, concentrate upon stories that are inexpensive and easy to cover, like celebrity lifestyle pieces, court cases, plane crashes, crime stories, and shootouts. Not only are such stories cheaper to cover and air, they hardly ever enmesh the parent corporation in controversy, as do ‘hard’ news stories. Consider network TV news. International news has declined from 45 percent of the network TV news total in the early 1970s to 13.5 percent in 1995…The annual number of crime stories on network TV news programs tripled from 1990-92 to 1993-96. In one revealing example, CNN addressed a decline in ratings in the summer of 1997 by broadcasting a much-publicized interview with O.J Simpson. As bad as this seems, local television news is considerably worse. One recent detailed content analysis of local TV news in fifty-five markets in thirty-five states concludes that local news tends to feature crime and violence, triviality, and celebrity, and that some stations devoted more airtime to commercials than to news…Another 25 percent of the local news was deemed ‘fluff,’ including stores about hair tattoos, beer baths, a dog returning home and a horse rescued from mud in California.’ [also, Bill O’Reilly Talk-TV shows] (54)
- ‘A 1998 study of local television news in Baltimore concluded that the extreme focus on crime stories, with a strong racial twist, was an important factor in declining general perception of the quality of life in Baltimore, leading to business exodus and job loss.’ (55)
- ‘In addition, there is implicit pressure on editors and reporters to accept marketing principles and to be ‘more reader friendly.’ This means an emphasis upon life-styles and consumer issues that strongly appeal to sought-after readers and advertisers.’ (55)
- ‘In perhaps the most publicized new measure, the Times-Mirror’s flagship Los Angeles Times in 1997 appointed a business manager to be ‘general manager for news’ and directly oversee the editorial product to ensure that it conformed to the best commercial interests of the newspaper.’ (56)
- ‘There are some who argue that this turn to trivia and fluff masquerading as news is ultimately going to harm the media corporations’ profitability. As more and more people realize they no longer have any particular need to read or watch the news, and news is competing with the entire world of entertainment for attention, its readership and audience may simply disappear. Whether that is true or false is impossible to say, but the media corporations, by their actions, have made it clear that they prefer for a chance at pie-in-the-sky profits far down the road. In fact, it would be highly irrational business conduct for the dominant media firms to approach journalism in any manner other than the way they presently do.’ (57-58)
- ‘Over time, successful journalists simply internalize the idea that it is goofy and ‘unprofessional’ to want to pursue these controversial stores that cause mostly headaches.’ (61)
- ‘Allowing the deterioration of journalism and broader media culture makes perfect sense for media owners, but the degree to which it has been enacted reflects also the absence of organized and coherent public protest about these trends. Until media owners feel some political heat, they have little reason to alter course. As it is, the dominant mood in the United States is one of resignation and demoralization, not only about media but about other political issues as well. Even among those who deplore corporate concentration and conglomeration, hypercommercialism, and the decline of public service and journalism, and who regard the social and political implications of these trends as extremely negative, there is a fatalistic sense that this is the way it must be.’ (63)
- ‘The primary reason for this lack of public debate has been that the media and communication industries covered by these laws have unusually powerful lobbies that effectively control the debate and impose boundaries on the ‘legitimate’ range of discussion. The commercial broadcasters, as represented by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), have been a powerhouse since the 1930s and are stronger than ever today. The NAB’s lobbying team is so immense, it is barely noticed that it includes Kimerly Tauzin, daughter of Rep. Billy Tauzin (Rep., La.), chair of the crucial House Telecommunications Subcommitte.’ (64)
- ‘The Wall Street Journal calls the commercial broadcasters the ‘most powerful lobby in Washington,’ and most other analysts place broadcasters in the top tier of influence.’ (64)
- ‘The NAB and the other corporate media lobbies are so strong not merely because they are rich and give lots of money to politicians’ campaigns, though they are and they do. Far more importantly, the corporate media control news and access to the media – something politicians respect even more than money. This also means the media are in the enviable position of being able to cover political debates over their own existence. Consequently, ideas critical of corporate of corporate or commercial domination of the media are basically verboten in the commercial news media.’ (65)
- ‘This does not mean that the NAB or the corporate media always get their way; it only means they get their way when their conflict is with the general public. Otherwise, the media lobbies sometimes battle with each other and sometimes with other powerful communication lobbies.’ (66)
- ‘…the Communications Act of 1934.’ (69-70)
- ‘Perhaps the greatest recent victory of the inside-the-beltway media public interest lobbyists came in 1996 when, after years of lobbying in one form or another, the FCC instituted a new policy whereby commercial television networks were required to begin doing three hours of children’s educational programming per week, starting in September 1997. This sounds like a dramatic gain, until one realizes that these three hours of kids’ TV are advertising-supported and determined by the same business minds that created the current monstrosity that is commercial children’s television.’ (71)
- ‘It will seem tragic or comical, depending upon one’s mood and perspective, that these sham hearings of 1934 were the only instance of a formal public deliberation on the matter of who should own and control broadcasting in the United States and for what purpose it should be conducted. This is a ‘deliberative process’ worthy of the old Soviet Union of the type of corrupt police state.’ (73)
- ‘Just as the emergence of radio broadcasting had demanded a new federal code, so now the emergence of digital technologies necessitated a new statue to accommodate the convergence of communication industries.’ (73)
- ‘The wording of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is accordingly void of detail on many interests, for these are matters to be determined down the road by the FCC and others. The core premise of the bill was to eliminate restrictions on firms moving into other communication areas – for example, phone companies moving into cable television and vice versa, or long distance phone companies moving into cable television and vice versa – and then to eliminate as many regulations as possible on these firms’ behavior. A few crumbs were tossed to ‘special interest’ groups like schools and hospitals, but only when they didn’t interfere with the probusiness thrust of the legislation. Proponents of the Telecommunications Act promised that deregulation would lead to genuine market competition, the result being much better service and lower prices. Market forces would serve the consumer where regulation had failed. The notion that the bill had something to do with encouraging actual competition was of course a public relations ploy designed to mask the nature of capitalism and conceal how these markets actually work.’ (74)
- ‘The one media sector most thoroughly overturned by the Telecommunications Act has been radio broadcasting. The Telecommunications Act relaxed ownership restrictions so that a single firm can own up to eight station in a single market. In the twenty months following enactment of the new law, there has been the equivalent of an Oklahoma land rush as small chains have been acquired by middle-sized chains, and middle-sized chains have been gobbled up by the few massive giants who have come to dominate the national industry.’ (75)
- ‘Deregulation has made it possible for giant radio firms to establish ‘superopolies’.’ (75)
- ‘Its most important customers are affluent consumers hailing from the upper and upper-middle class.’ (77)
- ‘Although there are important domestic companies in many of these industries, the global export market is the province of a handful of mostly U.S.-owned or U.S.-based firms. These not only remain important markets but are also tending to grow faster than the global economy. The motion picture and TV show production industries are absolutely booming at the global level. The major film studios and U.S. TV show production companies (usually the same firms) now generate between 50 and 60 percent of their revenues outside the United States.’ (80)
- ‘Advertising is the second way that the global media system is linked to the global market economy. Advertising is conducted disproportionately by the largest firms in the world, and it is a major weapon in the struggle to establish new markets. The top ten global advertisers alone accounted for some 75 percent of the $36 billion spent by the one hundred largest global marketers in 1997.’ (84)
- ‘Were European nations, not to mention the rest of the world, ever to approach the U.S. level of between 2.1 and 2.4 percent of the GDP going toward advertising – where it has fluctuated for decades – the global media industry would see an almost exponential increase in its revenues.’ (85)
- ‘By 1998 Murdoch claimed to have TV networks and systems that reached more than 75 percent of the world’s population.’ (98)
- ‘The global media system can be at times a progressive force, especially as it enters nations that had been tightly controlled by corrupt crony media systems, as in much of Latin America, or nations that had significant state censorship over media, as in parts of Asia. But, as we will see, this progressive aspect of the globalizing media market should not be blown out of proportion; the last thing the media giants want to do anywhere is to rock the boat, as long as they can do their business.’ (100)
- ‘Does the global media system represent the highest form of ‘cultural imperialism’?’ (101)
- ‘ ‘There is nothing particularly American,’ the Economist noted in reference to the themes of Hollywood blockbuster films, ‘about boats crashing into icebergs or asteroids that threaten to obliterate human life.’ The flip side of this reductionism toward U.S. culture is to regard non-U.S. cultures as pristine.’ (101-102)
- ‘ ‘The most successful content in most countries is local content. [CEO of Spanish media company]’ But this is hardly a contradiction. To the extent that most audiences prefer locally made fare if it is of adequate quality, the global media giants, rather than flee in despair, have globalized their production.’ (105)
- ‘With this hypercommercialism and corporate control comes an implicit political bias regarding the content of the media system. Consumerism, the market, class inequality, and individualism tend to be taken as natural and often benevolent, whereas political activity, civic values, and antimarket activities tend to be marginalized or denounced. This does not portend mind-control of ‘Big Brother,’ for it is much more subtle than that.’ (110)
- ‘The genius of the commercial media system is in the general lack of overt censorship.’ (110)
- ‘Let me be clear about my argument. I am not stating that the global media or commercial media are solely or even primarily responsible for the type of depoliticized and demoralized political environment that exists in the United States or that has developed in Chile.’ (112)
- ‘The global media system plays a much more explicit role in generating a passive, depoliticized populace that prefers personal consumption to social understanding and activity, a mass more likely to take orders than to make waves.’ (113)
- ‘Mexico is a country of a modest, very fucked class, which will never stop being fucked. Television has the obligation to bring diversion to these people and remove them from their sad reality.’ Emilio Azcarraga, owner of Mexico’s Televisa (113)
- ‘There is an appalling schlock journalism for the masses, based upon lurid tabloid-type stories. For the occasional ‘serious’ story, there is the mindless regurgitation of press releases from one source or another, with the range of debate mostly limited to what is being debated about the elite.’ (114)
- ‘In 1997, when Disney had the temerity to produce Kundun, a film biography of the Dalai Lama, Disney’s numerous media projects in China were ‘frozen’ by the Chinese government. Disney responded by working with the Chinese government to show them how to use public relations to ride out the controversy. Disney even hired super-lobbyist Henry Kissinger to go to China and ‘to keep China open to the Walt Disney Company.’ ’(115)
- ‘Across the world there are numerous examples of heroic journalists, risking life and limb to tell the truth about the powers that be. The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists reports forty-one journalists murdered worldwide in the line of duty in 1997, and 474 since 1988…But only in rare instances are these murdered and imprisoned journalists in the direct employ of the media giants.’ (117)
- ‘We should rejoice with this system, we have been told, because the government’s role is minimal and this is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended with the First Amendment to the Constitution.’ (119)
- ‘…the notion that the Internet, or, more broadly, digital communication networks, will set us free. This is hardly an unprecedented argument; every major new electronic media technology this century, from film AM radio, shortwave radio, and facsimile broadcasting to FM radio, terrestrial television broadcasting, cable TV, and satellite broadcasting, has spawned similar utopian notions.’ (120)
- ‘It corresponds most closely to the situation in the 1920s, when the emergence of radio broadcasting forced society to address the two sets of political questions mentioned above.’ (125)
- ‘Electronic Freedom Foundation cofounder Mitchell Kapor captured this sentiment in a 1993 piece in Wired magazine. Kapor argued that the cable and telephone companies would be the proper groups to bring the Internet to American homes.’ (131)
- ‘It may be worth noting that an 1995 advertising industry survey showed that some two-thirds of Americans did not want to have advertising on the Internet.’ (132)
- ‘In 1998 the Clinton administration decided that the U.S. government would abandon the management of the Internet’s address system, turning it over to an international nonprofit group that would represent elements of the Internet industry. The core telecommunication companies that now own the Internet’s backbone, including MCI, GTE, and AT&T, have formed the Global Internet Project to provide ‘longer-term solutions’ to Internet self-regulation.’ (133)
- ‘in 1998 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which represents the world’s richest twenty-nine nations, prepared a report ‘condemning the U.S.-centric nature of the Internet as a barrier to the development of electronic commerce.’ (133)
- ‘The EU, for example, supported the U.S. campaign in 1998 before the World Trade Organization to keep electronic commerce duty-free.’ (134)
- ‘The one Internet issue that public interest lobbyists pursued in the early 1990s – assuring Internet access to poor and working-class citizens – has been effectively swept aside in the tidal wave of commercial Internet development.’ (135)
- ‘Two minor measures have been developed to appease universal access advocates. One is an FCC program to wire the nation’s schools and libraries, a program President Clinton has repeatedly praised. Such praise notwithstanding, the FCC cut the funding for the program in half in 1998, to $1.28 billion.’ (136)
- ‘Corporate dominance and commercialization of the Internet have become the undebated, undebatable, and thoroughly internalized truths of our cyber-times.’ (136)
- ‘The free market mythology harms few if any powerful interests, so increasingly it goes unchallenged.’ (137)
- ‘In general, most markets in the United States in the twentieth century have gravitated not to monopoly status but to oligopolistic status.’ (138)
- ‘When governments spend billions subsidizing industries or advocating the interests of business, not a peep can be heard about the evils of Big Government. A 1998 investigative report in Time magazine noted that the U.S. government pays out some $125 billion annually in ‘corporate welfare,’ primarily to a few hundred very large corporations. As the series chronicles, little if any of this spending can be justified as a public expense.’ (142)
- ‘With the passage of the Communications Act of 1934 an the creation of the Federal Communications Commissions, this U.S. broadcast reform movement disintegrated, and the profit-motivated basis of U.S. broadcasting was politically inviolate forever.’ (229)
- ‘With the support of the newly established Federal Radio Commission, the U.S. airwaves were effectively turned over to NBC and CBS and their advertisers.’ (230)
- ‘Regrettably, in many nations public broadcasting has never been able to escape the control of the state or dominant political forces.’ (242)
- ‘In the United States, the situation has reached its nadir, and public broadcasting faces the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, it has a small budget which requires it to solicit corporate and commercial support to survive, with all the attached strings that that entails. On the other hand, it is still politically censored by the political right in Congress, which uses its control over the subsidy to keep public broadcasting in line ideologically. Indeed, after years of conservative threats to shut it down, public broadcasting has become so tame politically that some studies found it to be more probusiness than the commercial television networks.’ (244)
- ‘The commercial broadcasting, media, and advertising industries therefore direct a never-ending publicity and political lobbying campaign to promote the merits and genius of a commercial media system and, correspondingly, to deny and denigrate the supposed merits of public service broadcasting. It is well understood that the most powerful cases on behalf of public broadcasting, from those advanced by Graham Spry and John Dewey to the present, are premised on the limitations and absurdity of a commercial system. To the extent that the two systems both depend upon public support legislation, and government regulation, and to the extent that the logics of the two systems are in opposition, this conflict in unavoidable.’ (246)
- ‘It was not until 1967, after many halting starts, that Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act, which led to the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and soon thereafter to PBS and NPR. The commercial broadcasters finally agreed not to oppose public broadcasting, primarily because they believed the new public system could be responsible for doing the unprofitable cultural and public affairs programming that critics were constantly lambasting them for neglecting.’ (248)
- ‘In Britain, public service broadcasting had a much stronger hold. The BBC enjoyed a complete monopoly from the 1920s until the 1950s…This was due to no small extent to a regulatory regime that made it difficult for the commercial broadcasters to become entrenched and that required that they meet high standards for public service. In short, commercial principles were kept on a short leash and were not permitted to set the rules for the entire system. Indeed, the British experience suggests that a mixed system of public and commercial broadcasting can coexist and prosper (and even perhaps be desirable) if there is rigorous regulation to ensure public service values…By the 1990s British media scholar Colin Sparks announced that British broadcasting was a predominantly commercial affair, and that the BBC was taking rather than giving cues.’ (250)

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