He stalks, he pounces, he defies all the howls of anguish and protest and drags his prey down.
Rupert Murdoch’s hostile takeover of The Wall Street Journal dominated the business news for most of this year. And yet despite all that coverage, the real story never came out. The real story is not about whether Rupert is the great media savior or the great media bogeyman of our time. And it’s not about the ins and outs of his deal with the Bancroft family or whether he can be trusted to keep the wsj’s hallowed journalistic integrity intact. The real story is about a global information system in which one man is allowed to own more than 100 newspapers, satellite networks, Fox TV, MySpace, plus a magazine and book empire. It’s about six corporations – Rupert’s News Corp plus Viacom, TimeWarner, Disney, CBS and General Electric – that between them control over half of all the news and entertainment flows around the planet. And it’s about how these megacorporations brainwash our kids, downplay global warming and justify wars. The reporters covering this story should have asked why a man who threw all his media might behind Bush’s invasion of Iraq should now be allowed to gain even more media power. They should have asked: How much media concentration is enough?
A movement is building now to change the way information flows and the way meaning is produced in our society. Our current demand is that our media regulators (FCC in the USA, CRTC in Canada, Ofcom in UK, ACMA in Australia) halt any further media mergers in our countries. Next year, we hope to launch anti-trust actions against the six megacorporations. Our long term aim is to enshrine the “Right to Communicate” – the right to receive and impart information without hindrance – as a fundamental human right in the constitutions of all free nations and in the universal declaration of human rights.
Our movement’s name hasn’t gelled yet. Some call it the Media Reform movement, others the Media Democracy movement, and still others the Mental Environmental movement. But sometime before the seas swell, the war on terror goes pandemic, and we all go a little cuckoo in our heads, we will have to wake up to this one simple fact: He who controls the information, controls it all.