The Need for Cultural Diversity and the War against American Media Conglomerates

Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, written by Jennifer Holt, discusses the timeline and influence of government regulation (and eventual deregulation) of the American media industries and market. Holt elaborates on the specific events and measures taken by political figures and media moguls in creating a market system in which the Chicago School of thought on economics became prioritized. This called for a “free market” system in which government control is limited or completely removed, in order to allow media companies and corporations to own, buy and sell as they would like.

But here’s the problem. Holt argues that this deregulation in America’s media and entertainment industries has made a market full of huge and overpowering conglomerates that have begun buying out and taking over all aspects of media and entertainment content, as well as the pipelines that reach out to consumer audiences. This leaves the market anticompetitive, which shoves out any newcomers, independent companies and individuals, and even creative laborers. This grants the top few as the creators and gatekeepers over what popular American media is. Holt makes a call to arms stating, “it is our duty as citizens, consumers, and educators to cultivate awareness about the dynamics of regulatory practice, political discourse, and the nexus of technological and institutional convergence that will shape the future of entertainment empires and the vitality of our media” (Holt 177). This is a battle over controlling the intellectual and immaterial property of media that we take in on a daily basis. How can we say we are upholding the values of democracy when the citizens of our country no longer get a voice in electing the media content that is being pushed onto to us?

media%20conglomerateRuth Conniff, in her article “Fighting the Corporate Takeover of America’s Media”, writes about her continual struggle with her children in explaining the corporate consolidation that is homogenizing the very music and songs they listen to over the radio. She says, “To their delight, when we travel to see relatives on the East Coast, they can listen to an identical station, and even the same DJs, playing the same handful of sound-alike songs in a different time zone” (Conniff). No matter the cultural change in region you traverse in the U.S., the popularized media will still be the same. Conniff specifically mentions Pitbull and Ke$ha’s collab of Timber as one of those songs heard around the world. You hear this same song wherever you go across the country – and sometimes even across the world – which is a direct example of deregulated media conglomerates cutting out independent music artists, and using up every resource they have already cashed into at every chance they get. For every time you hear the same overplayed song on the radio (and on more than one station at the same time!), you are hearing the direct result of unregulated media conglomerations. Doesn’t that piss you off? Well, what if you were pressured into hearing or seeing the same media on the same few media channels but they are coming from another country?

With America’s growing entertainment empires consistently churning out vast amounts of media in order to fill in their consumer pathways and pipelines with their own material, this also leaves out the global media market. Holt points out the current global issue of American media invading consumer pipelines overseas, which is entrenched in controversy over the fact that, as the leading global media creator, American media is becoming the global mainstream (Holt 130). It is an issue upon which other countries are losing a say in what is being broadcasted and exhibited in their native media outlets. Holt points out that the American free market has allowed for this utterly uncontrollable growth and consolidation of industries, and all this power over these industries are ending up in the hands of a small minority. And with all the power being in the hands of only a few, it leaves the rest of the world out of the discussion of what will become of popular media. The artistic and creative content being created all over the world by individuals will have no pipeline to consumers. The independent media arts market will always remain at the sideline of the content being displayed at the say of the huge conglomerates of America. And these few are comprised mainly by rich white men, cutting diversity out from the very top. With these few men holding such a high claim in the global scheme of media, they possess the power to create and exhibit media that is beneficial and biased towards their own gains. With all this misguided and undemocratic media pumping into our senses on the daily, there is a worldwide inefficiency in cultural and historical paradigms.

In Juliette Garside’s article, “Europe Gears Up to Fight Back against Giant US Beasts of the Internet,” Garside describes how the internet is becoming another area of media takeover in which America has a high foothold. American media companies, most specifically Google, are quickly gaining traction in creating an internet era in which conglomerates will again hold power over media in the hands of only a select few. Garside ends her article stating, media“The Berlin Wall has fallen, but Europe is erecting new defenses: it is building a firewall to protect the Old World from becoming a digital colony of the New World” (Garside). With countries having to protect themselves from the growing powers of American media conglomerates, it should be time that America recognizes its need for reregulation in the way of sustaining cultural and creative powers, otherwise the whole world will be listening to the same song, on the same station, controlled by the same few.

Holt reflects upon the use of war metaphors and symbolism by American and European media market leaders in describing their positions upon the imbalance of entertainment trade. While American leaders use “patriotic and even xenophobic appeals to try and protect media from foreign takeovers,” Europeans use this rhetoric in order to take a stance upon the issue within its cultural framework (Holt 131). We see consistently that the American market is trying to turn a profit and continue its power gain through the use of media trade, while the European market shows a concern for the cultural exploitation and deconstruction. Holt explains, “Of the 105,000 hours of filmed entertainment on European television at the time, only 5,000 were produced there. The rest were largely imported from the United States” (Holt 130). When reading about the use of patriotic and xenophobic rhetoric in America’s way of describing the foreign takeovers, it is easy to identify the propaganda and biased language in use to gain favor of the growing American conglomerates. But when hearing the European Commission’s use war rhetoric to describe the disbanding of their media and culture in place for American media, it brings about a real concern. Is American corporate power and greed to blame for the impending doom of global media content and outlets? Is the forcefulness of American media upon European countries violating their cultural conservation in a way that calls for global digital market restructuring? If this war over media continues to grow on the side of the American conglomerates, will it extinguish all last remaining relics of independent media creation?

Featured image via Wikipedia. Political cartoon via iemediaproject. Which media image via The Rift.

Sources:

Conniff, Ruth. “Fighting the Corporate Takeover of America’s Media.” Progressive. 14 Feb 2014. Web. 1 Feb 2015. <http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/02/187001/fighting-corporate-takeover-americas-media&gt;

Garside, Juliette. “Europe Gears Up to Fight Back Against Giant US Beasts of the Internet.” The Guardian. 12 Sept 2014. Web. 1 Feb 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/12/europe-fights-us-beasts-of-internet&gt;

Holt, Elizabeth. Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation. Rutgers University Press, 2011. Print.

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