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Potential FCC Changes: Good Vs. Bad, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 658

Essay

“Based on authority granted by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets media ownership rules that restrict how many media outlets” “a single entity may own.” (Federal Communications Commission, 2008). Accordingly, it would follow that there is a periodic re-evaluation of the rules to ensure that they are kept up to date and applicable to what is going on in today’s society. Current debate is looking into increasing the percentage of allowable merges and company consolidations for overall media control from “39 percent,” prior to additional stipulations, to 45 percent in a geographic market. (Federal Communications Commission, 2008). This, of course, would have a substantial impact of how the media is run across the whole of the United States. Although the legal and ethical issues that would arise in the face of such an occurrence would most likely make the conversion process a lengthy one indeed, it is the opinion of the VP of Risk Management for this company that we support the suggested changes of the FCC.

A brief history for the overall report, the FCC was created by congress and most of its commissioners have actually been appointed by the current president; each serving 5 year terms. Since its establishment in 1934 via “the Communications Act,” the FCC has  been “charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable,” along with other allotments. (Martin, 2008, p. 3).

Now, in the event that the previously mentioned, suggested changes in the FCC regulations are approved and put into place, it is important to be aware of the aforementioned legal and ethical issues that come into being. One of the big reasons that there are stipulations in the first place is to prevent the formation of monopolies.

A monopoly exists “when a specific individual, or” “enterprise, has sufficient control over a particular product or service to determine significantly the terms on which other individuals shall have access to it.” (Friedman, 2002, p. 23). Monopolies are thereby “characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good, or service, that they provide, and a lack of viable substitute goods.” (Friedman, 2002, p. 23).

An excellent example of this would be the monopoly that was created by the Bell telephone company in the early 1900’s. Even after they had been placed under the jurisdiction of the FCC they still had almost total control of the telecommunications for the United States. (AT&T, 2010). The situation actually escalated to the point where they prohibited “their customers from connecting phones not made or sold by Bell to the system without paying fees” such as a “re-wiring charge” and “a monthly lease fee.” (AT&T, 2010). Ultimately, the customer base was being forced to follow in line with the main company or be punished.

This is actually where one of the biggest ethical issues would arise as well. Is it right for companies to dictate product availability and variety to the consumer? A lot of avenues are left open for consideration but it is still imperative to leave what would amount to free choice with the people.

Another point to consider would also be the bias that would form within the media itself. By increasing the allowable percentage of media ownership by one corporation, we are ultimately limiting multiple points of view and increasing slanted news coverage.

Still, even taking all of that into consideration, the suggested FCC changes would most likely prove substantially beneficial to this logistics and services corporation. By increasing allowable ownership, our company will be able to merge in with even more markets, creating a blanket effect for our region; increasing company revenue and broaden the scope of our name.

References

AT&T Inc. (2010, November). A brief history: the bell system. Retrieved from http://www.corp.att.com/history/history3.html

Federal Communications Commission. (2008).  Fcc’s review of the broadcast ownership rules Washington, DC: Retrieved from http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/reviewrules.html

Friedman, M. (2002). Capitalism and freedom. Chicago, Il: The Chicago University Press.

Martin, K.J. Federal Communications Commission,(2008). Fiscal year 2008: performance and accountability report Washington, DC: Retrieved from http://www.fcc.gov/Reports/ar2008.pdf

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