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Media: A Quick Overview
Robert McChesney
January 21, 2004

If you are concerned about the state of the union, you should be concerned about the state of the media.

Last week, CBS television censored free speech by refusing to sell airtime to the MoveOn Voter Fund for a political ad during the Super Bowl. The ad is critical of the Bush Administration's run-up of the federal deficit.

CBS - owned by media giant Viacom - says it doesn't run "controversial" ads during the Super Bowl. But it plans to air a White House drug policy spot during the game. The last such ad linked marijuana smoking to terrorism... hardly uncontroversial.

It is no coincidence that the White House and the FCC are pushing through new media ownership limits at the behest of CBS - efforts that activists and public interest groups have been fighting. CBS/Viacom spent over $4 million lobbying Congress in the last four years alone.

CBS is playing politics with the right to free speech: another example of media monopoly's chilling effect on democratic debate.

We need your help to spread the word about CBS and the growing media crisis. Many members of Congress continue to fight further media consolidation because millions of Americans have pressured them to do so. This recent insult proves that we need millions more.

First, forward this email to everyone you know who cares about free speech and democracy.

Next, go to http://www.mediareform.net/media to learn more and sign up to be a Free Press E-Activist. You will receive occasional (not frequent) emails about media reform and how you can get involved. It's easy to subscribe and unsubscribe.

Free Press is a national nonpartisan organization working to increase public participation in crucial media policy debates, and to generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system. Information online at http://www.mediareform.net

Please join us as we build a media system that serves the public interest, not just corporate interests. Our democracy depends on it.

Yours truly, Robert McChesney Author, Professor Founder, Free Press


Media: A Quick Overview

The corporate monopolization of media is increasingly playing a critical role in the declining quality of American democracy. Instead of a diverse, skeptical, independent and competitive media system - the kind envisioned and promoted by the nation's founders - the media give us dumbed-down low-quality journalism (devastating, because corporate television is the lens through which the vast majority of Americans understand the world); skyrocketing commercialism with increased ads per hour on TV and radio, product placement on TV and movies, on billboards, in schools and other public spaces; corporate-sanctioned self-censorship (a la Dixie Chicks and Bill Maher); a narrowing range of debate; abuse and atrophy of copyright law; and wholesale giveaways of public resources, among others. Today, few question the role the media now plays in undermining - rather than nurturing - democracy and civil society.

When Freedom of the Press was inscribed in the First Amendment to the Constitution, it was regarded as a social right of all citizens in a free and self-governing society to have a well-funded, uncensored and lively media system. Our media today remain the direct result of government policies, but no longer are the policies the result of informed public debate. Instead they are made quietly and corruptly behind closed doors by self-interested commercial parties, where lucrative monopoly rights to TV and radio channels and copyright extensions - for example - are doled out with no return to the public.

Free Press (www.mediareform.net) is about returning to the classical notion of Freedom of the Press: otherwise democracy and self-government are unthinkable. We must renew the founding commitment at the grassroots and on Capitol Hill to establishing the basis for a viable free press instead of letting powerful special interest lobbyists fight it out behind closed doors.

As Saul Alinsky said, "To defeat organized money, we need organized people."

P.S. Stay up to date on news relating to media reform with our free daily headline service. Sign up at: http://www.mediareform.net/news/deliveries.php P.P.S. Support media reform by becoming a Free Press Action Fund member at: http://www.mediareform.net/support.php

Posted: January 23, 2004


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