Journalism sages—really, just ask them—Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel pen a howler in The New York Times warning that changes in the FCC ownership rules for local TV stations will lead to communication monopolies in TV, radio, newspapers, billboards, sandwich boards, matchbook covers, and, hell, probably those cheap pens that insurance guys give away.
Look around, guys. Local TV anchors aren't exactly trying to scoop their local daily. Many TV stories are cribbed straight from A1 and no one minds. They're complementary, not competing goods much of the time. Consumers and advertisers want and get different things from them.
The local news consumer probably doesn't know or care that his paper is Knight Ridder and his TV station Cox, two media giants who pursue the same safe, middle-of-the-road path no matter the market. How exactly would the world change if Cox one day bought the paper? Only carry TV listings for the Cox channel?
Kovach and Rosenstiel are saying that barriers to entry to info markets are so high that one company could lock down a community. This view ignores or doesn't understand all the simple tools out there for individuals to route around content they don't like—even create content they do like.
If online alternatives seem too ephemeral, then let's radically overhaul the one absolute barrier to entry into TV and radio markets, FCC licenses. Hands up who's for handing out low-power licenses like condoms at a SoBe circuit party? Thought so.
But I will make this offer to Cox: Get out of the junk mail biz, and you can own all the radio and TV stations and papers you want. Deal?