for a diverse, democratic and accountable media

BSkyB and ITV

Posted by Gary Herman

I understand what you\'re saying about convergence, but doesn\'t the example of Murdoch and BSkyB undermine that to an extent? After all, we\'re still getting hot under the collar about TV ownership, and rightly so, I believe, since TV still represents the dominant news medium in much of the world among the population as a whole. The fact is that the web remains - in McLuhan\'s term - a cool medium and, as such, one that appears to talk predominantly to the engaged (in whatever sphere they happen to be engaged). Media owners are worried about it because they identify cool media with a perceived fragmentation of the audience. If you want to reconstruct the mass market, so the argument goes, you need to push the same message to everyone wherever they may receive it. That\'s the way to turn \'cool\' back into \'hot\'. But this doesn\'t necessarily follow - a fragmented audience may just feel more isolated not more engaged; and pushing the same message through a website, a TV programme and a publication may actually have no effect - cool will stay cool and hot will stay hot. Google is so successful not because they do everything, but because they\'re one of the few media companies with a genuinely global reach and an effective approach to localising their markets. They don\'t need to run a TV station or a newspaper, or even a string of them. One search engine and advertising vehicle in a hundred different languages will do. Where I agree with you completely is that the owners act in the belief that consolidation will bring greater influence. Advertisers - and politicians - agree with them. They are trying to manufacture consensus. And so the economics of the media are distorted and the political process is distorted. But this may just be because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the media work. So an \'inquiry into the issues relating to media ownership\' that you mention might just expose the flim-flam and help us to better understand how the media actually work. It may not stop Rupert Murdoch, but it may stop politicians paying so much mind to him. And who\'s to say what will happen? If we can see through the fake consensus of a consolidated media universe, it may mean that we begin to establish some serious alternatives.

DATELINE: 23 January, 2010