Monday, July 14, 2003

Growing Awareness about Media Deregulation, etc.
For the last couple of years I've been teaching a sociology course on mass comm, which I've entitled Media/Culture/Power. Each quarter, I begin the course with a focus on the overall structure of the media industries in terms of horizontal/vertical integration, conglomeration, effects of deregulation, etc. At the beginning of this current summer quarter, while getting this lecture ready again, I was thinking about what's changed since the last time I taught the course.

In one sense, things on this front have become much more depressing in the year since I last taught this class, with the June 2 FCC deregulation. However, at the same time, things have become much more exciting, with the growing activism around this issue. I certainly didn't imagine 1 year ago that there would be anywhere near the kind of organized outcry against the deregulation that we saw in the weeks running up to the June 2nd ruling (even more surprising and heartening is how this has translated into movement in the House/Senate, although it's not quite clear how that's all going to shake out, ultimately).

A recent Pew study demonstrates that these ideas may be spreading a bit beyond activists to a wider community as well, which is exciting. When people learn about the rules, they don't support them. Of course, we still have a long way to go to get enough people to know about these rules-- but more people report being aware of this than I would have guessed.

"Public awareness of the new media ownership rules, which are currently being challenged in Congress, has grown significantly. Nearly half of Americans (48%) say they have heard a lot (12%) or a little (36%) about the issue. In February, only about a quarter of the public (26%) knew even a little about the plan.

People who are most familiar with the FCC plan have an overwhelmingly negative opinion of it. By roughly ten-to-one (70%-6%), those who have heard a lot about the rules change say its impact will be negative, not positive."
Now, the same survey finds more Americans tuning into Fox News and a 2-1 ratio of those who suspect a liberal rather than conservative bias in the news media. But, I guess I'm in a glass half full mood this morning and choose to focus on the more upbeat side.
AP/Yahoo summary: Public More Wary of Media Ownership Rules; Summary of Findings from Pew; via Poynter Convergence Chaser


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