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The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media

New Book - Our Media, Not Theirs! The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media

NEW YORK (Seven Stories/Pacific Media Watch): A new book, Our Media, Not Theirs! The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media, examines how the current media system in the United States undermines democracy, and what we can do to change it.

Media academics Robert McChesney and John Nichols begin by detailing how the media system has come to be dominated by a handful of transnational conglomerates that use their immense political and economic power to saturate the population with commercial messages.

They reveal how journalism, electoral politics, entertainment, art and culture have all suffered as a result, and use examples of media coverage of the 2000 Presidential Elections and War On Terrorism to illustrate the poverty of information corporate media actually provide.

McChesney and Nichols also explain how that the internet, which many once argued would open up the media system to a cornucopia of new voices and creativity, has been lost for the most part to the corporate communication system.

Our Media, Not Theirs!, published by Seven Stories, contains proposals for making our media system more responsive to the needs of the citizenry and less dominated by corporate greed. The authors look at how political parties, grassroots movements and popular performers in other democratic nations increasingly have made media reform a political priority.

The authors provide an analysis of the burgeoning media reform activities in the United States, and outline ways we can structurally change the media system through coalition work and movement-building. Their starting points for mobilizing a media-reform agenda include:

€ Creating hundreds of new non-commercial community radio stations

€ Applying existing antimonopoly laws to the media and, where necessary, expand their reach to restrict ownership of radio stations to one or two per owner. Consider similar steps for television stations and moves to break the lock of newspaper chains on entire regions.

€ Establishing a formal study and hearings to determine fair media ownership regulations across all sectors.

€ Revamping and supercharge public broadcasting to eliminate commercial pressures, reduce immediate political pressures, and serve communities without significant disposable incomes.

€ Providing for a $200 tax credit that every taxpayer can use to apply their tax dollars to any nonprofit medium, as long as it meets Internal Revenue Service criteria. This tool would allow new low-power radio and television stations, as well as existing community broadcasters, labor union newspapers, and other publications to have the resources to provide serious news coverage and cultural programming.

€ Lowering mailing coats for nonprofit and significantly noncommercial publications.

€ Eliminating political candidate advertising as a condition of a broadcast license; or require that a station must run for free ads of similar length from all the other candidates on the ballot immediately after a paid political ad by a candidate.

€ Reducing or eliminate TV advertising to children under twelve.

€ Decommercializing local TV news. In return for the grant of access to the airwaves, which makes media companies rich, require that those companies set aside an hour each day of commercial-free time for news programming, with a budget based on a percentage of the station's revenues. This would free journalists to do the job of informing citizens, and allow stations to compete on the basis of quality newsgathering as opposed to sensationalism.

€ Revamping copyright laws to their intended goal: to protect the ability of creative producers to earn a living, and to protect the public's right to a healthy and viable public domain.

In Our Media, Not Theirs! McChesney and Nichols provide readers with the tools to battle for a better media. They offer an invaluable analysis, and clear ways to fight back against corporate domination of democracy.



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PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government
organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media
workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability,
censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region.
Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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