Do you know who controls the media? You may think of specific individuals who own corporations, or the corporations themselves, that are mainly involved in broadcast media. You may even think about how Disney owns a huge chunk of today’s media (including film giants such as Marvel, LucasFilm, and 21st Century Fox). Is this concerning? Should it be legal to have such a large monopoly of what a majority of Americans watch, read, listen to, experience, and enjoy?
What about cable and streaming services? According to Forbes, Comcast and Charter are still booming even with the domination of Netflix and other online streaming platforms. Netflix, which started out by kicking Blockbuster to the curb with their DVD rental service that you could do from home, quickly branched out into online streaming of popular movies, TV shows, documentaries, and eventually original content. Now, they’re being edged by competitors such as Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
So who owns the media?
Big Tech companies control the media. This isn’t just my opinion–it’s a fact that only 6 corporations control 90% of media outlets in America, as explained in an article by Tech Startups. Business Insider cites 10 companies that control America’s news. One of these companies is The Washington Post. You know who owns them? Jeff Bezos. That’s right: Amazon owns the news. And Twitch, the video game streaming platform. As well as Whole Foods, a grocery store. Oh, and IMDB, the movie and TV database. I could go on, because his company owns 15 other companies.
Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Could it lead to positive outcomes, or negative ones? Should one company control so much of the media, or should it be broken up so smaller companies get a piece of the action? These are the questions being asked in the media world right now, especially amidst the political landscape of presidential candidates, social justice, and civil unrest. If one of these large companies favors a politician, would that effect voting? If multiple news sources discuss the unjust killing of Black people by police, would it cause a revolution?
Let’s talk laws
Thankfully, there are some laws in effect that help manage media’s presence and ownership. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) outlines some of these laws and works hard to ensure they are upheld and that new rules are set in place. The European Union (EU) has extensive laws about online privacy to protect its citizens, while the United States struggles to uphold net neutrality. There is also the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005, which attempts to censor obscene imagery or indecent language on broadcast networks. Broadcast media is already governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates radio, TV, cable, and other public broadcasts. Most of these laws were reactionary, however, instead of preemptively protection viewers or the broadcasters themselves.
With social media platforms becoming as large as radio and television, moderation is looked up more heavily. Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms, which means they need to consistently enforce regulations. But America’s laws may make it difficult at times; specifically the Freedom of Speech. But does the First Amendment protect someone who spews hate or harassment? Last year, Facebook finally took action against the white supremacist hate groups by removing around 200 accounts. And as soon as the clock struck midnight after Biden won the 2020 election, Twitter banned Donald Trump’s account. Some people may cry that this is censorship, but this kind of moderation stems from rules that are upheld offline as well as online.
Who will control the future?
Going forward, do you think the media monopoly will shrink to just one or two major corporations owning all of the media in America, or will it finally expand? Will there be more laws protecting the public, or protecting the media? I cannot say for sure what the future will hold; although I see a lot of young entrepreneurs who plan to revolutionize the way the world works. That may mean new media or new ownership, better laws, and a more positive experience. If you’ve seen any apocalypse movies, it may end up in disaster with everyone fighting for themselves. (I just hope there aren’t any zombies.)
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