Monday, March 07, 2011

Of Media Conglomerates And Attack Ads...

The MSM is in a tizzy over the recent Green Party "attack on attack ads". This really says a lot about the lack of real political discourse in this country.

While a lot is being said about the "low-brow" discourse, no-one seems to be delving into the real problems: media cross-ownership and unabated advertising, in and out of writ.

Michael Moore recently spoke in Madison WI regarding the dangers to American democracy. His first "enemy" of democracy was the agglomeration of MSM in the hands of the filthy rich. With increased media cross-ownership, the MSM controls not only the message, but also the medium. In the US, as well as Canada, a handful of mega-conglomerates control the dissemination of information (cable cos, telcos, etc.), as well as TV channels, radio stations, supposedly "independent" studios, and movie studios.

Only a moron would assume that the concentration of media ownership does not influence voter intent. Millions of people plugged into canned programming that grows less and less stimulating and intellectual. Newscasts have turned into "opinion". Very few non-partisan channels continue to exist outside of public sources.

Add to this situation a year-round mix of political ads - mainly by one party. Ads cost money, and networks rake in the dough. Networks bend over for their advertisers, and typically "he who advertises the most, gets 'juiced' the most". Slowly, we are allowing those with the most funds to control public opinion. Meanwhile candidates hide out from the voters, wrap themselves with partisan crowds, and rarely show up at local debates. Voter engagement is non-existent.

So, how do we fix this? How do we fix our flailing democracy? We advocate a 3-step strategy:

1) Tightly cap campaign spending. Limit spending to an attainable figure (perhaps $5 million nationally, and lower at a local level than the $80K). This will stop the deluge of ads ruining our "Hockey Night In Canada" bliss. It will also force candidates to actually get out and really electioneer - shake hands, knock doors, and attend all-candidates forums.

2) Cut off partisan political advertising (including 3rd party ads) during any time but the writ period. This move (election promise???) would have the public squarely behind it. Who actually likes political ads? No-one in the general voting public. Only partisans can take pleasure in what their side has hatched.

3) Work to restore media freedom in Canada. This step would admittedly take longer, but it is for the betterment of our democracy. We are having elections "bought and paid for", or slowly getting to the point. What does the general public have in common with a handful of billionaire media moguls? Not much. Yet, it is the opinion of the media moguls and their paid advertisers that the public hears, repeatedly through the year.

Media conglomerates exercise WAY too much political power in this land. There is no reason that the owners of the medium also control the entire message. Cross-ownership of media is a pox on democracy, and must be stopped. Strict guidelines need to be put out to ensure diversity in the media sphere.

Government must strictly enforce the CRTC mandate that all stations/networks provide free OTA (over the air) signal to Canadian homes. Allowing networks/stations to develop OUTSIDE of the sphere of influence of the cable and telco giants is healthy for diversity of opinion and competition. It is also better for the consumer - and will garner votes.

So, there you have it. The WesternGrit plan to kill multiple birds with one stone: Better voter involvement (we GOTTA do better than 60% voting), less media bias, cleaner airwaves (without political ads), and politicians we can actually find during an election - and beyond.

Note: No birds were harmed in the production of this blog.

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