May Debates Media Access Project's Schwartzman on CNN
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Those who insist upon freezing decades-old federal media ownership restrictions in place are stuck in a bygone era when Walter Cronkite closed his nightly newscasts with the famous “And that’s the way it is…” with few voices to contradict him. Today, Americans enjoy a multiplicity of news and information sources on broadcast, cable, satellite, radio and the Internet that would give the American icon a run for his money.
This vast change in the media landscape – and the marketplace’s proven ability to increase the diversity of opinion and availability of local and national information – support efforts at the Federal Communications Commission to liberalize the rules, according to Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow and Director of Communications Policy Studies Randolph J. May.
“Now, it’s harder and harder for most Americans to recall life before ‘surfing the Web,’ much less life before ‘channel surfing.’ May writes in a recent editorial. "Yet, as the FCC is finally poised to consider relaxing its Byzantine regulations that restrict the number and kind of media outlets one entity may own, opponents of relaxation talk as if we are still living in those bygone days.”
Appearing Tuesday on CNNfn opposite Andrew Schwartzman of the Media Access Project, May said the FCC’s reform will likely be “a modest step.” He cited studies that show “commonly owned local broadcast and newspapers produce more local news and win more awards than stations that don’t have common ownership.” Countering Schwartzman’s idea that, in May’s words, “somehow the government ultimately should determine the content of what is broadcast,” he maintained that the new competitive media marketplace is the best guarantor of diversity and information. This duo debated the same topic on National Public Radio last week. May was interviewed by Reuters on Monday.
“We’re fortunate to be in a situation where, largely because of technological advances, we’ve got the number of media outlets that we don’t have to rely on the government to dictate who can own media outlets and are able to rely on the marketplace to satisfy consumers’ demands for diversity,” May said.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the impact of the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1993.