The mass media can be defined as the means of communication that reach large numbers of people in a short time, such as television, newspapers, magazines, radio and the internet. In terms of reach, mass media can easily be accessible to people internationally and across continents. Throughout the 20th Century, the arrival of mass media was driven by technology that allowed the massive duplication of material at a low cost. Physical duplication technologies such as printing, record pressing and film duplication allowed the duplication of books, newspapers and movies at low prices to huge audiences.
Television and radio allowed the electronic duplication of content for the first time. Mass media had the economics of linear replication: a single work could make money proportional to the number of copies sold, and as volumes went up, units costs went down, increasing profit margins further. The purpose of the mass media is debatible; Some see its purpose is to inform or select information relevant to its large audience. Others see it having a hypoderitic needle effect. In brief, it is the idea that the makers of media messages can get up to do whatever they want us to do.
This last view has caused concern since the Orson Welles & The Mercury Theatre broadcast of War of the Worlds on October 30th 1939. He made an adaption of the book, except it was made like a live news broadcast of a Martian invasion. People packed the roads, hid in cellars, loaded guns, even wrapped their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, in an attempt to defend themselves against aliens. In the future, it seems media convergence will become more apparent.
Already we have radio shows giving extra information and track listings through their website, TV news stations with their own broadband information services and I feel this is just the beginning. We will not have a media brand using one outlet any more, we are in a world where media conglomerates control too much of the media to avoid this. Companies like News Corporation, Viacom and AOL Time Warner own so much of it that not only will more of it become apparent, but also brands that have only one outlet will struggle greatly. This issue of globalization is still contentious.
For the western world, it poses a great threat as it means our information is from the one country. It has the potential to destroy cultures internationally, plus with the US being the only world super power, no one can compete or challenge their views and beliefs. Many countries may stop creating their own media for the public and simply but American media. The US can easily afford to do so, as their outlets will have made enough profit in the motherland. This means people will not fully have their native freedom of speech or viewpoints.
Global media conglomerates can often have a progressive impact on culture, especially when they enter countries that had tightly controlled corrupt media systems (as in much of Latin America) or nations that had significant state censorship over media (as in parts of Asia). The global commercial media system is uncompromising in that it will not respect tradition, custom, or balance, if it stands in the way of profits. A problem is becoming more apparent is that, as Major American companies merge together, minority voices in society will quickly lose their voice in the public domain.
In this country we have the BBC Asian Network, the communist newspaper Morning Star which give outlets to minorities but with globalisation and more specifically Americanisation, their views and beliefs will easily be erased from the public, purely if the media sees no substantial profit in them, rather than looking at ethics and freedom of expression. Now that the British media is monitored by the one body, Ofcom, traditional worries about taste, decency, fairness etc are not being abandoned.
However, there is a growing concern that the media is not giving us the full picture of news and information around us. The notion that Osama Bin Laden was sending coded messages in his video messages to terrorists does seem a bit far fetched, yet expressed journalists and reporters went along with the US Administration without question. Also in the early 1992 where Bill Clinton ran for leader of the Democratic Party in the US, one of his rivals Senator Robert Kerrey of Nebraska was literally snubbed by the media during the campaign.
As the opinion polls came in, Kerrey was found to be third in the running, yet the media was hardly giving him enough airtime to put his views across. The election trail continued and the other candidate got more exposure, Kerrey was soon out of the running altogether. The views in the media are not a fair representation of the cultural diversity around us. With most of the focus on white British people, those from other minority groups and with special needs are not given enough time in the media.
However, within the last ten years changes have been made to improve this situation as the BBC created the Asian Network, also last February the BBC unveiled quotas to boost the number of disabled people in their shows. Then again, the BBC itself is a public-funded, non commercial broadcaster which needs to change with the publics interest. If changes like these continue for the other TV and media networks, not only will it create better integration in our society, but would counter the hypodermic needle effect the media can easily put in place.
Rupert Murdoch is a media entrepreneur who owns and has shares in the largest media conglomerate, News Corporation worth $12. 5 billion. His holdings include: FOX Networks, BSkyB, 20th Century Fox, New York Post, HarperCollins Publishers, Regan Books and sports teams. His empire covers four continents and reaches two in every three people worldwide. Though the concern as to his power potential is that with so many media outlets to utilize, he can put his views across them without any room or regard for other peoples view, which undermines the principle of democracy.
On the upside, Rupert Murdoch has forever changed the way the media works. He brought tabloid papers to the UK, colour newspapers and has manage to create ties between the media and government. He is the most powerful political media influence in the world; he has frequently been courted by politicians, especially current and past British and Australian Prime Ministers, who try to persuade him to run favourable coverage. He is however, accused of running partisan media coverage for political parties that promote policies and decisions which favour his commercial interests.
In my view, Rupert Murdoch is threat to the media and democracy around the world itself. He has an overwhelming desire to own more and more of the worlds media, without compliancy. Furthermore, with the Federal Communications Committee deregulating their policies, it is only allowing Murdoch more room to flex his muscles. During the September 11th attacks in the United States I found myself watching news coverage on the Fox News Channel which Sky Digital, only recently carried.
I noticed an American bias in its coverage but it only became more apparent during the War on Terror. On every single show, in the top left hand corner, the American flag waves constantly for 24 hours a day which is unusual, considering Rupert Murdoch attacked the BBC for spending too much money on American programming. He buys a station in America and pretends its pro-America, has it tell us Americans that theyre best because that sells, plays countries against each other because it breeds loyalty.
Then, he buys a station somewhere else like here in Britain, has that station tell them they are the best because that sells and then starts playing them against whichever country will serve his purpose at the moment. If he determines anti-American talk will sell to Britons, he starts attacking the very country his FOX News claims to speak for. Rupert Murdoch is only working to help himself, his assets and his security. He is assaulting those that try to free speech, the BBC being a prime example but he has been doing this across the globe. He simply uses any means possible to get more money.
In 1985 he became a US citizen in order to satisfy current legislation that only American citizens could own US television stations and yet also managed to have himself defined as an Australian citizen in order to retain his ownership of Australian media outlets. During the build up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all 175 Murdoch-owned newspapers worldwide editorialised in favour of the war. The fear is that, if Murdoch continues to get richer and richer, he could eventually buy up the entire worlds media and centrally control all the ideas and views released which would slowly kill off democracy and stop people thinking for themselves.