Advocate. Support. Endorse. Act.
—Passion and Perserverance
—In the News
Adults and youth spend hours exposed to TV, radio, newspapers, the Internet, magazines and billboards. Increasingly these media outlets are controlled by a few large corporations. They decide what is news and what is not. No matter what issues are important to you and your family, the media has a huge influence over the beliefs, values and opinions of the public and policymakers. Have you ever felt that you are missing out on important information and alternative perspectives? There are certain issues that never make it into the media stream of consciousness. If you look closely and critically, you'll notice that important issues are ignored and much of the time what we see and hear is 'infotainment'—sensationalist and celebrity gossip. TV and radio play very similar homogenous programs, with little diversity in viewpoint. We are constantly overloaded with advertising, commercials, infomercials and product placements in movies and TV shows, where programming is created just to sell merchandise. Violent and explicit images are everywhere.
Most of the media that we see and hear is produced to make a profit, including news shows. Commercial media makes money on advertising, and the more people watch, listen and pay attention to a particular program, the more the advertiser pays for the ad. Knowing this, media companies create content based on attracting the best audience for the advertisers—not the best content to serve the interests of the public.
There's been a huge consolidation of independently owned media in the past 30 years. There are only seven Big Media giants controlling almost everything we see and hear and today. These Big Media conglomerates produce, own and distribute multiple forms of media, including book publishing, magazines, movies, newspapers and TV programs and use their outlets to sell and distribute their products.
Unfortunately, when it comes to media policy, media corporations have a huge influence over policymakers in Washington through well-financed lobbying efforts. Even though the public owns the airwaves, the media companies decide what, how and when media should be created and distributed. In June 2003, the FCC was deciding whether to allow more media consolidation, but do you recall hearing anything about the subject? Probably not. Surveys showed that had Americans been privvy to this information, they would more than likely been opposed to media consolidation. We will never be able to have a fair media system if only a handful of companies control the ways we recieve the information. Media consolidation reduces the diversity of opinions and viewpoints and it's just not serving American society properly.
The Internet poses the next potential media consolidation threat. With the convergence of Radio, TV and the Internet it's apparent we need to start acting aggressively now so we don't find our Internet freedom and diversity lost as well. Presently, the Internet provides free access to all web sites and users. However, big cable and telephone companies want to restrict what users and providers can or cannot access.
We need to become aware of the issues around media policy.
Here are some media policy issues to contemplate
and discuss with policymakers:
Do You Support:
- Efforts on setting limits on media consolidation?
- Policies that would increase and preserve funding for public and non-commercial media?
- Open access rules to keep the Internet free and open and that protect individual privacy?
- Requiring broadcasters to provide free airtime to candidates and public debates?
- Efforts to reduce commercialism toward children and promote noncommercial educational TV programs?
- Giving more communities the ability to broadcast their own locally-based and developed programming?
- Providing incentives to increase diversity in media ownership?
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Passion and Perserverence
Talk to any lobbyist and you will find that legislative changes take years to achieve. As in any business or sales endeavor, successful policymaking efforts require persistance. Time, energy, focus and patience are needed to make policy changes. Your coalition should be sent legislative alerts as often as needed. That might mean 3 times in one month and then not another alert for several months. There are always new bills introduced and others that may go nowhere. There's no magic to successful lobbying—just a passion for making changes and the perserverance to see the effort to the end of the policy cycle.
What does it take to get involved with your local legislators and the media?
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