News Monopoly?

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Journalism sages—really, just ask themBill 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?

NEXT: "no bills received"

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  1. It is getting to where it is almost always correct to oppose the position of NYT on most issues; what a shame for the “paper of record”!

  2. I agree. Generally speaking, if the NYT holds a view, I hold the exact opposite view.

  3. The Cox channel? Sounds like pay-per-view…

  4. Before we all start piling on The New York Times (an activity that apparently requires only the slightest provocation), let’s understand that the column was published in the Times but not written by a Times columnist and not necessarily reflecting the Times’ editorial viewpoint. If we’re going to jump on anyone, let’s jump on the column’s authors, Kovach and Rosenstiel (a distinction, by the way, that the original posting recognizes).

  5. Whiners…As if Rupert Murdoch and other media CEOs are puppetmasters who control every word and nuance of every columnist and reporter. Get real.

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