Green Imagination

Your Blog for Sharing Green Ideas.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Is this the End of Public Goods?

Tonight was the rare occassion that I watched Letterman and Howard Stern was the guest. I've never been a huge fan of Stern, what he does is pretty low-brow and lame. But, like all die-hard believers in democracy, I want him to be able to use the public airwaves just as anyone else.

Stern announced that he was leaving the public airwaves to go to satellite radio. His reason was that he can't do what he wants to on "terrestrial" radio (as he called it). He's got millions of dollars in fines from the FCC. So, he's moving to something more private than privatized radio aired on public airwaves. He liked satellite radio to the early days of cable TV.

What bothers me about this is that the entire concept of a public good is being eliminated by private ventures like satellite radio and cable. In other words, people are paying more to global media conglomerates for something they already have a right to.

The argument has been made, of course, that these same conglomerates monopolize the public airwaves. Either way, then, it seems like the consumer is screwed.

This is no shock, but it needs to be said again and again: Privatized media systems like this are destroying our democracy. We need to pay to get information, and if we don't we get crappy information. Of course, you could argue that we get crappy information anyway.

What's at stake is the public sphere, if one even still exists. That means that those who cannot afford satellite radio or cable, or for that matter the Internet, cannot participate in our democracy. And by and large, these same people do not participate in democracy.

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