Continuing on with Huxley’s Brave New World Revisited is another far seeing observation about the concentration of power in the media. This section of his essay could have been written yesterday for Lessig’s blog.
Mass communication, in a word, is neither good nor bad; it is simply a force and, like any other force, it can be used either well or ill. Used in one way, the press, the radio and the cinema are indespensable to the survival of democracy. Used in another way, they are among the most powerful weapons in the dictator’s armory. In the field of mass communications as in almost every other field of enterprise, technological progress has hurt the Little Man and helped the Big Man. As lately as fifty years ago, every democratic country could boast of a great number of small journals and local newspapers. Thousands of country editors expressed thousands of independent opinions. Somewhere or other almost anything could get printed. Today the press is still legally free; but most of the little papers have disappeared. The cost of wood-pulp, of modern printing machinery and of syndicated news is too high for the Little Man. In the totalitarian East there is political censorship and the media of mass communication are controlled by the State. In the democratic West there is economic censorship and the media of mass commmunication are controlled by members of the Power Elite. Censorship by rising costs and the concentration of communication power in the hands of a few big concerns is less objectionable than State ownership and government propaganda; but certainly it is not something of which a Jeffersonian democrat could possibly approve.
Economic censorship is exactly the problem with the media today. Check out this graphic that shows the media concentration in today’s society. And for further reading, I’ve already compiled a lot of other links on my sucks page.