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Must Reads

  • Robert McChesney, Telecommunications, Mass Media, & Democracy: The Battle for Control of U.S. Broadcasting 1928-1933
  • Paul Starr, Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communication
  • Joel Brinkley, Defining Vision: How Broadcasters Lured the Government into Inciting a Revolution in Television
  • Yochai Benkler, Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets & Freedom
  • Chomsky, Noam, "Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media"

Source(s): Media solutions

Corruption in action

See this three-part series from I, Cringley for a demonstration of corruption at several levels, relating to broadband, telecos and Congress: When Elephants Dance: Get ready (finally) for faster Internet speeds at lower prices, Game Over: The U.S. is unlikely to ever regain its broadband leadership, The $200 Billion Rip-Off: Our broadband future was stolen

This Media Matters report details a significant disconnect between our media and general American consensus on a wide range of issues: [1]

A PIPA report highlights the problems that occur when clarity of presentation is not sufficient for ordinary consumers to differentiate fact and opinion: [2]

Source(s): Media solutions

Elections & Money

The functioning of democratic self-government in the U.S. in the 21st Century cannot be separated from the functioning of the nation’s media system. Most critics agree that the role of money in the current political system is at the root of the problem. Some critics argue that public financing of election campaigns would reduce or eliminate the outsized influence that money plays in the current system. Few critics go far enough to ask why election campaigning in the U.S. is as expensive as it is or ask whether alternative forms of communication might also contribute to a stronger, more functional democracy.

The current system of communication in the U.S. is a significant barrier to political participation and democratic self government. When Hillary Clinton started thinking about running for the U.S. Senate in 2000, she was the most recognized, most admired woman in America. Yet, the first question she needed to answer was whether or not she could raise the $12 million needed to run for statewide office in New York.

The $12 million was needed because that’s how much television advertising she would need to compete successfully. If the most recognized, most admired woman in the U.S. needed to pay a $12 million entrance fee in order to merely run for the U.S. Senate, how would anyone else compete? How would the voters of New York choose good candidates if only people who could raise $12 million were even considered?

In the 2006 election cycle, candidates for various elected offices spent more than $800 million on radio and television advertising, largely in the form of 30-second spots. The U.S. faces many problems in 2006 and beyond. None of these problems can be adequately resolved or even described in 30 seconds.

Fixing the broken U.S. political system will require fixing the broken U.S. communication system.

The next 18 months present a rare opportunity to do exactly that.

Source(s): Media solutions

Digital TV

The era of over-the-air analog broadcasting, formalized by the 1934 Communications Act will come to an end a few months short of its 75th birthday. In February 2009, television stations throughout the U.S. will stop broadcasting analog TV signals, and broadcast only in digital formats.

While Congress has created a firm deadline for the transition to digital TV, many of the ripple effects of this broader move to digital communication have yet to be considered.  vjtiy  =OO  qwwbny

Source(s): Media solutions

Other Issues

There are at least half a dozen major policy areas in which important questions will need to be answered:

  • The digital TV transition follow up: The date is now certain, but many questions remain. Should broadcasters pay cable companies or cable companies pay broadcasters in this new digital world? The rules from the 1980s and 1990s that govern negotiations between these powerful licensed monopolies may have to be updated.
  • Broadband policy: What role should governments, particularly municipalities and public utilities, play in creating a national broadband networks we will need to be competitive in the 21st century global economy?
  • Unlicensed spectrum: Can we convert unused TV channels to wireless broadband to make digital communications cheap and accessible? Or would new spectrum cause too much interference for existing operators?
  • Net Neutrality: Should we return to the traditions of common carriage and universal service upon which the Internet grew from its birth to 2005, or should we adopt the Bush Administration policy and let market forces alone determine the cost of access of Internet service for both businesses and consumers?
  • Copyright: How can we protect intellectual property in digital form while at the same time preserving fair use and protecting innovation?
  • Media ownership consolidation: Should large corporations be allowed to continue buying up media properties, concentrating media power in fewer and fewer hands or should local ownership and diversity be supported through regulation?