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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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October 24, 2007 7:30 PM

Presidential candidates and media consolidation

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Presidential candidates Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, and Barack Obama D-Illinois, are both concerned about the push by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin to change media ownership rules. Good for the senators. In a Friday press release Biden told the FCC to not lift the cross-ownership restriction, which bans a company from owning a newspaper, television station, a number of radio stations, and an Internet Service Provider in the same market. Obama sent out a press release Monday saying he is also concerned about media concentration, and urged the FCC to do more to promote diversity of media ownership.

It is encouraging to hear these two candidates speaking out on this issue. I hope the other candidates, including Republicans, can work this into their stumps. The responsibility also falls to the press. Reporters should be asking the candidates about issues such as media concentration, and Network neutrality.

Media concentration and media diversity should be at the forefront of the presidential debate. These two issues are so fundamental to our democracy, yet politicians rarely make it an issue. They might be surprised by the positive response from voters of all political affiliations if they did make it an issue. Media consolidation is not a wedge issue, which dims the flash of the lure for candidates during a primary. What candidates would discover by talking media consolidation is that it cuts across the electorate like few topics. Christian conservative broadcasters are as worried about consolidation as is Common Cause.

An inclusive issue might be too good to believe for most politicians locked in a struggle for the White House. But it is out there, and as important as the war, health care, and fund raising.

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