There’s lots of buzz about today’s news of the FCC relaxing media ownership rules.
Five or ten years ago, I would have been incensed about the decision. If you look back in time, you’ll see that every time the FCC “relaxes” the rules, monopolistic control of the media takes a big leap. And I’m sure this time will be no exception.
However, with today’s news, I really could care less. And this decision only affects the top 20 markets. Small markets are ignored. Big whoop.
Five or ten years ago, traditional media were still the only real game in town. Monopolies needed to be avoided. It was a sacred privilege and responsibility to own a transmitter or a printing press. That immense power needed to be spread out.
But today, everyone is the media. One of my big money quotes in my speaking engagements is that now everyone owns a printing press through the publishing power of the web. You’re reading my latest edition right now.
I’m fascinated with how traditional media are struggling with the rapid changes that continue to pop up. They’re moving in slow motion. And they’re wasting time arguing about things that are secondary to the threat that’s facing them.
It’s almost like the horse buggy manufacturers arguing with each other while Model T’s zip by outside.
The danger is that I don’t think “new media” is ready to take over the watchdog responsibility from old media. There’s not enough experience there. There’s no accountability. And there’s a lack of legitimacy from the powers-that-be. (A blogger and a newspaper reporter ask for an exclusive interview with the mayor — who do you think gets it?)
There will be (and already is) a major backlash about this FCC decision. But it’s a waste of time. It’s not about who owns the pipes or how many pipes they own in any market. It’s not about who owns transmitters and printing presses.
Today, it’s about who owns the content that the masses want to consume. And they don’t care how it’s delivered to them.