"Media in hands of the powerfull"
What is logical and good ought to be expressed even if it appears
inachievable at the moment.
- Ben Bagdikian
A community will evolve only when a people control their own communications.
- Frantz Fanon
Nowadays big corporations control TV news, information, and entertainment
in accordance with their economic and political interest. Television advertising
is being sold by the commercial system of television to corporations and
political candidates who can afford to purchase highly expensive airtime.
That is how the wealthy and the powerful ensure control of the economic
and political system. The system of, so called corporate-controlled and
television-mediated elections has enabled the electorate. That is how
the United States got the lowest rate of participation in major elections
among major capitalist democracies.
Control of television by powerful groups ensures thet certain issues will
not be adequately covered and the certain points of view will not be articulated
(For example: Can we expect CBS to adequately cover Israeli/Palestinian
relations if we take into consideration that the owner is passionately
But we have to realise, that the problem with television is not television
itself; it is not the tecnology and medium of television per se (Mander
1978). Television can be used for or against democracy (Raboy and Bruck
1989), and democracy itself is a contested terrain, subject to definition
and structuration by competing groups and ideologies.
Commercial ownership and control result in a broadcasting system biased
toward the class that owns and controls it, thus excluding oppositional
voices and criticism. Douglas Kellner, the author of the book Television
and the crisis of democracy, points out that entertainment and information
in this system are predominantly ideological and serve the interest of
maintaining a capitalist sistem. his study confirms Habermas's theory
of the decline of public sphere under the influenca of mass-mediated institutions
controlled by the capitalist class.
The worst aspect of commercial system of broadcasting is that the television
networks (which emerged with other corporate conglomerates), fell into
the hands of intruding commercial and conservative interest. The amount
of advertising has increased, commercial pressures for rating have reduced
the number of documentaries and public affairs broadcasts, and the amount
of innovative, challeging programming has declined.
Commercial networks are serving the interest of the transnational conglomerates
that own and control them.
The crisis of democracy is not caused solely by the commercialization
and deregulation of television. Deregulatin (unrestrained capitalism)
has created devastation in several fields: banking, transportation, housing,
health care, and broadcasting. Other crises in health care, education,
urban centers, and housing are also contributing to the growing crisis
of democracy in the United States, as are the growing divisions between
classes, accelerating poverty, and a mushrooming underclass of people
condemned to lives of drug addiction, disease, and decaying urban ghettoes.
The machinery of government often appears powerful, particulary when the
wizardly apparatus of the media puffs up its image; when the veil is lifted,
however, our "rulers" are shown to be inept, corrupt, and enmeshed in
fantasy, in the never-never land of the contemporary United States. The
homeless die in the streets; thousands die of AIDS and cancer; millions
are addicted to drugs; and for diversion the dying empire invades small
and defenseless countries while waging secret wars all over the world.
Kellner, Douglas. 1990. Television and the Crisis of Democracy