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Oakland, CA

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News Programming? Aisle three. Posted on 03/10/2002.

In a discussion on a mailing list, someone refuted this quote from Robert McChesney...:

"Fewer than ten transnational media conglomerates dominate much of our media; fewer than two dozen account for the overwhelming majority of our newspapers, magazines, films, television, radio, and books."
...with the fact that, well, we now have hundreds of channels broadcasting all manner of stuff, in all manner of languages... 50 years ago, we had 3. How is hundreds fewer than three? How are we any worse off?

Now, I believe that "The Media Monopoly" is very real and true. Yes, there used to be 3 channels (plus local independent stations), and now there are 150. However, what I think the point is to look at the ownership status of those 150. And if there are only, what, 10? 12? companies that own them, then the supposed bounty of 150 voices is really just more ways for a smaller group of companies to talk at you.

Lemme suggest a physical goods counterpart. I recently shopped at a grocery store. I was offered 10 different types of Wheat Thins™ Snack Crackers. This is more than the 1 type I was offered before.

Now, I could revel in the bounteous choice I have, except for one thing. I know that Nabisco pumps out 10 varieties of Wheat Thins Snack Crackers (and Ritz, and Triscuit, etc., etc.) not to offer me choice, but in order to lay claim to ever more shelf space. Thus crowding out other players in the crackers market. So, while I have more choices within the World of Nabisco, there are potential choices outside the world of Nabisco I'm not privy to, as they can't get space on my shelf.

Now, that last paragraph is based on stuff I'd read and heard in the past, but no solid research. I have found some interesting stuff through Google:
A great testimony from a representative of the Independent Bakers Association, showing how slotting fees are pushing out the small guy. Gives a history of the practice, and the ramifications. It all sounds very familiar to anyone trying to get a bit of radio spectrum...

"Shelf Fees Squeezing Retailers".

And a google search on "grocery store slotting fees" turns up interesting stuff. Tailor query as you desire.

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Three and a half? Another perspective on this is provided by what happened to the DuMont network. Back to VHF, UHF and vertical markets - fun stuff!
Posted by Laura @ 03/12/2002 07:06 PM PST [link to this comment]

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