Corporations decide what Americans see on TV
28 Jan, 2011 20:06
Several huge corporations own major networks and newspapers in the U.S. How much of the content do they control?
Everyone seems to know that the hand that feeds is the hand in charge. “He who pays the piper gets to call the tune,” said Steve Rendall, a senior analyst at FAIR. In the US, paying the piper and running the show are corporations. The tune they call, what Americans see, hear and read.“It’s a money maker, it’s a cash cow. People don’t think that there is any money in the media. Aside from health care these days, the media is the industry of the 21st century,” said Georgetown University Professor Chris Chambers. Half a century ago, fifty corporations ran the major networks and newspapers. Since then, a rapid concentration of media ownership has resulted in a near media monopoly spearheaded by a lucky few.“The danger of this kind of media concentration is that it robs democracy of diversity, it robs viewers of being exposed to a wider range of views,” said media critic Danny Schechter. Analysts say the U.S. is living in the golden age of media bias.“It’s never been easier to find out exactly who is behind what, and where the conflict of interests are,” said media analyst TJ Walker.Topping the list of owners is Rupert Murdoch and his empire News Corp.Murdoch stands over FOX News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post – just to name a few. General Electric, one of the largest military contractors in the US and Comcast, one of America’s largest cable providers are joined by the hip running NBC.“The floor of the Hudson river is covered in carcinogenic PSBs – these toxigenic dangerous chemicals, that were put there by General Electric. General Electric owns NBC. NBC has not taken any trouble to report on this massive environmental story,” said Rendall.With the innocent face of Mickey Mouse as their trademark, Disney is the proud owner of ABC.“When ABC was bought by Disney and there were some ABC stories about improprieties at Disneyland and Disney World, and Disney killed those,” said Chambers. CNN and Time magazine belong to Time Warner.Joining the media giants is CBS Corporation towering over CBS News and Viacom – a global entertainment content company – running, among others, Comedy Central.“They are supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, but when you have journalists treading lightly around corporate and government elites, it almost defeats the purpose of their even existing,” Rendall said.The purpose of existence for corporations is profit. Meaning, investors interests are placed ahead of anything else that would matter in journalism.“Good business is bad journalism. Good journalism is bad business,” said Chambers.Broadcaster Laura Flanders says counting on getting facts from the corporate media is simply naïve.“We can’t be reliant on military contractors GE to bring us our news about the war, any more than we can be reliant upon television networks that are run by Disney to bring us the truth about what’s happening in our economy,” she explained.As media are increasingly monopolized, the number of voices interested in bringing US viewers a little something called “truth” has decreased. As a result, instead of representing journalism, media have turned into loud mouthpieces for corporations.Author Michael Parenti said not only are large news outlets owned by large corporations, they are also funded by additional corporations through paid advertising.“There’s always a concern about pleasing your advertisers,” he said. “Americans are taught that we have a free and independent press, because the government doesn’t own it. But, in fact the ideological parameters around that press are very strict and very narrows, and they are set by the corporate owners and corporate advertisers. Those ideological parameters mean that you don’t say anything too critical about the world corporate system.”Because of this system, argued Parenti, Americans are indoctrinated to think US policy is both correct, and “God’s gift to the world.” Parenti explained, “It’s very hard to say anything critical about anybody who has any level of economic power.”
Radio host Alex Jones said objectivity in the media is impossible with such invested interests behind the content.“You have the old dinosaur media, now owned by five or maybe six mega conglomerates, and they are really teaming up with the government and getting secrete payments,” he said. “It’s not just these five or six mega corporations that have all these other corporate subsidiaries and they won’t report on things that put them in a bad light, you have direct government payments of tax payer money secretly being funneled to them.”Jones explained this is pushing many Americans away from corporate media. They are turning to the web for independent news sources. “We’ve seen massive viewership drops in cable and broadcast TV and in newspapers and you’ve seen sites like infowars.com and other alternative media exploding,” he noted. He said alternative media is now a threat to the corporate media, and corporate media outlets are lobbying the government to ban other media sources.