October 7, 2006

Media Consolidation: Implications for Atheists

Media consolidation is a term you should understand. Frankly, it is a topic that should hold great significance to members of any minority group, including political and religious/non-religious minorities as well as the more traditional meanings of minority.

Media consolidation represents the efforts of a small number of mega-corporations to acquire all media outlets. Remember a time before all radio stations were owned by Clear Channel? I do. Radio was once actually worth listening to. Television news was once more than right-wing propaganda. Media consolidation means the extinction of truly independent media and the exclusion of dissenting voices. You think the airwaves are dominated by conservative voices now, but it can get worse.

The opposition to media consolidation is mounting, but we all need to help by spreading the word. Last week, countless Americans came before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Los Angeles in order to speak out against media consolidation (listen to the testimony). This follows news that the FCC suppressed two studies that revealed the negative impact of media consolidation. Among the findings of these studies was that consolidation harms local news coverage. In addition, a study by Free Press documents the low number of TV stations owned by women and people of color, illustrating that one impact of media consolidation. How are our elected officials to make informed decisions when they are not adequately informed?

Atheists, like all minority groups, have a stake in this issue. Local media ownership and local news coverage make it easier for us to get our voices out there. Those of us who want to continue blogging should also continue to follow the Net Neutrality issue closely and support the SavetheInternet.com coalition. With the huge $67 billion merger of AT&T and BellSouth looming on the horizon, now is the time to insure Net Neutrality.

Lest you think that I am overstating the threat posed by media consolidation, I urge you to consider that governments have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to use religion as an instrument of social control. When powerful corporations essentially control both the government and the media, opposition to religion is in jeopardy. We must insure that our voices continue to be heard. I suspect we would all agree that it is preferable to live in a democracy where the voices of the people matter and are not totally obscured by corporate interests.

Resources to explore:

Free Press
Save the Internet.com

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