Thierer Counters Calls for More Media Regulation in City Journal Article
WASHINGTON D.C. - Claims of societal harm resulting from either media scarcity or too many media choices are alarmist and misguided, writes Adam Thierer in "The Media Cornucopia," an article published this week in the City Journal. These critiques of the media marketplace, and resulting calls for more regulation of the media, are instead driven by those displeased by the results of consumer choice, Thierer explains.
In the article, Thierer, PFF senior fellow and director of the Center for Digital Media Freedom, identifies two seemingly contradictory arguments often cited as reasons for strengthened regulation over the media industry. He states that some critics "contend that real media choices, information sources included, remain scarce, hindering citizens from fully participating in a deliberative democracy. Others argue that we have too many media choices, making it hard to share comment thoughts or feelings; democracy, community itself, again loses out."
The scarcity argument, often used as a counter to proposals for relaxing media ownership policies, is not supported by recent data from both private firms and the FCC which both show a sharp increase in the number of media outlets. Conversely, Thierer takes issue with claims that the abundance of diverse media available to consumers can "cause extreme social fragmentation, isolation and alienation, and could lead to political extremism." Instead, he argues, new media forms such as the Internet, promote empowerment and participation.
Thierer concludes that when popular media fails to coincide with the tastes or views of some, they "want to convince us (or themselves, perhaps) that it's all because of some catastrophic market failure or a grand corporate conspiracy to dumb down the masses. In reality, it's just the result of consumer choice."
Thierer's article, The Media Cornucopia, is also available on Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal website. Reporters are invited to contact Thierer at 202-289-8928 for further discussion or comments.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.