why media consolidation is NOT a good thing

Scott Fybush scott@fybush.com
Fri Apr 30 02:09:55 EDT 2004

At 01:49 AM 4/30/2004 -0400, A. Joseph Ross wrote:
>On 29 Apr 2004 at 22:50, Garrett Wollman wrote:
> > A large conglomerate
> > like Westinghouse was or GE is does not have the same sort of freedom of
> > action: they are expected to manage their properties in relentless pursuit
> > of shareholder value -- so any corporate agenda they have is likely to be
> > much less personal, not to mention smoothed out to some degree by the
> > additional layers of management and corporate structure.
>OK, so how about CBS under William Paley?

Paley had that level of control, yes - but he also had the committment to 
public service (and the pressure from Frank Stanton) that led him to keep 
his hands off the news operation. Say what you will about CBS News in the 
Paley era; it maintained a tremendously impressive degree of editorial 
independence from the corporate ownership.

(The record will also show that by so doing, and by providing CBS News with 
a prodigiously healthy level of funding, Paley and Stanton could take 
credit for one of the most respected bastions of quality journalism in the 
history of the electronic media. CBS News in that era also drew ratings and 
- ultimately, with the coming of 60 Minutes - profits that Sinclair can 
only dream of.)

In any event, one suspects that a heavy corporate hand on the editorial 
tiller would, in that era, have caused problems for the network's O&Os at 
license renewal time. Certainly the two stations in Jackson, Mississippi 
that regularly pre-empted network newscasts during the struggle for civil 
rights paid the price in the end - both ultimately lost their licenses for 
that and other reasons. And wasn't that (corporate ownership's influence on 
the news product) one concern that quashed ITT's bid to buy ABC in the late 


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