Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Closing the Open Society

Ol' George Soros is at it again. Having failed at "regime change" in America despite investing tens of millions of his own funds in Democratic efforts, he is now trying to reulate European television.
The institute analyzed television ownership, content and regulation in 20 European countries including 12 European Union member states, four EU candidate countries and four potential candidate countries.

It found a drop in quality of news reporting in countries where a few companies often control a country's entire television market and those which have opened up quickly to a flood of commercial broadcasters.

TF1, one of France's three commercial networks, commands almost one-third of the national audience and half of total television advertising revenues.

"Investigative journalism and minority programming are hard to find in both public service and commercial broadcasting," the institute said. "Viewers often do not receive the information necessary to make informed democratic choices."

Miklos Haraszti, a media freedom expert from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a regional security organization, said a "deluge" of commercial channels in some countries had led to ratings wars with public service broadcasters.

"The inevitable result has been the dumbing down of public service content in many countries," he said in a statement.
What in hell is a "media freedom expert?" I'm gonna guess it's some academic with a "mass communications" or "media studies" degree.

But you'll notice they claim that commercial channels are responsible for the "dumbing down" of public service (ie. government) broadcasters. How is that? I'll agree that PBS shows here in America have gotten worse in recent years. The science shows especially, where repetition and lots of pretty but meaningless graphics are becoming the norm. Also, lots of talking heads talking about feelings about science.

I'd argue that's the fault of school systems, which turn out people who need such entry-level stuff. Television doesn't create smart people, it can only serve them.

The real meat of the story, as usual, is down at the bottom:
The institute recommended that the EU set up an independent agency to monitor media concentration.

It also urged national governments to ensure that commercial media ownership and public media funding are transparent.

The European Commission and the European Parliament have also studied media concentration in the 25-nation bloc. The EU assembly last year passed a resolution calling for new EU guidelines on media ownership.

It called on the EU head office to "safeguard pluralism" through legislation banning political figures or candidates from having major economic interests in the media. The parliament pointed to Italy where the assembly said Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi exerted too much influence either directly or indirectly over media there.
And there you go. More government control by "independent" agencies; more regulations and interference.


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