Throwback Thursday: Ted Turner’s Beef With Big Media

This week we previewed our upcoming magazine issue with Confessions of a Paywall Journalist, John Heltman’s look at the rise of the trade press in Washington. It’s far from the first time we’ve published a first-person account of the state of media, though. Back in the summer of 2004, Ted Turner discussed the various ways the government has kept upstart entrepreneurs out of the business while fostering consolidation among big media companies. He writes:

In this environment, most independent media firms either get gobbled up by one of the big companies or driven out of business altogether. Yet instead of balancing the rules to give independent broadcasters a fair chance in the market, Washington continues to tilt the playing field to favor the biggest players. Last summer, the FCC passed another round of sweeping pro-consolidation rules that, among other things, further raised the cap on the number of TV stations a company can own.

In the media, as in any industry, big corporations play a vital role, but so do small, emerging ones. When you lose small businesses, you lose big ideas. People who own their own businesses are their own bosses. They are independent thinkers. They know they can’t compete by imitating the big guys–they have to innovate, so they’re less obsessed with earnings than they are with ideas. They are quicker to seize on new technologies and new product ideas. They steal market share from the big companies, spurring them to adopt new approaches. This process promotes competition, which leads to higher product and service quality, more jobs, and greater wealth. It’s called capitalism.

You can read the whole story right here.

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Matt Connolly

Matt Connolly works for a labor union in Washington, D.C. He was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2015 to 2017.