Tuesday, June 3, 2003

An issue such as the Federal Communications Commission's ruling to allow further consolidation of ownership in U.S. media markets carries a lot of political and personal emotion, as seen in recent demonstrations prior to yesterday's 3-2 commission vote along party lines. We'll skip the obvious analysis of this ruling and move ahead to the inevitable conclusion: where there is a demand, there will be a market. Even at the height of the Cold War, people in oppressed countries found ways to get a hold of the information that they trusted. Given that the current publishing environment continues to lower the barriers to content distribution in many media, the likely long-term effect of this ruling is to increase the probability that the consolidation of media outlets will result in the accelerated development of alternative distribution channels that bypass governmental regulation as much as possible. To put it another way: isn't it possible that Clear Channel's consolidation of the U.S. radio market into bland and undifferentiated products is contributing directly to the flourishing of file-sharing services and Internet radio?
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