Howard Dean is making the message of the media reform movement part of his campaign--not just calling for overturning the FCC rules but also calling for breaking up existing media conglomerates.
Listen to the front-running candidate on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews on December 1:
Matthews: There are so many things that have been deregulated. Is that a wrong trend and would you reverse it?
Dean: I would reverse it in some areas. First of all, eleven companies in this country control ninety percent of what ordinary people are able to read and watch on their television. That's wrong. We need to have a wide variety of opinions in every community. We don't have that because of Michael Powell and what George Bush has tried to do the FCC.
Matthews: As a public policy, would you bring industrial policy to bear and break up these conglomerations of power?...How about large media enterprises?
Dean: The answer to that is yes. I would say there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country. We need locally-owned radio stations. There are only two or three radio stations left in the state of Vermont where you can get local news anymore. The rest of it is read and ripped from the AP.
Matthews: So what are you going to do about it? You're going to be President of the United States, what are you going to do?
Dean: What I'm going to do is appoint people to the FCC that believe democracy depends on getting information from all portions of the political spectrum, not just one.
Matthews: Are you going to break up the giant media enterprises in this country?
Dean: Yes, we're going to break up giant media enterprises. That doesn't mean we're going to break up all of GE. What we're going to say is that media enterprises can't be as big as they are today...To the extent of even having two or three or four outlets in a single community, that kind of information control is not compatible with democracy.
Breaking up media conglomerates is a campaign that millions of Americans--of all political stripes--are embracing. Perhaps the most hopeful example of this is a growing media democracy movement--working to reclaim the airwaves for citizens. Even mainstream media is waking up to the issue. Recently, Lou Dobbs of CNN announced the results of his online poll about media conglomerates. According to his survey, ninety-six percent of those polled said that big media conglomerates should be broken up. Only four percent were happy with them. Maybe this democratic revolution will be televised after all.