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Obama Would Pursue Antitrust Policies

This column was written by Katrina vanden Heuvel.

In a speech Sunday, Barack Obama said he would pursue a vigorous antitrust policy if he becomes U.S. president and singled out the media industry as one area where government regulators would need to be watchful as consolidation increases.

His statement signals a key opening for media and democracy reformers and the movement they have spawned in this last decade -- a movement The Nation has been centrally involved in ever since we launched our National-Entertainment series (complete with glossy centerfolds) in 1996. Working with this movement, an Obama Administration could effectively challenge the destructive and concentrated attack by corporate media consolidation on the integrity of our democracy.

Obama will have smart allies among this movement, such as the media advocacy group Free Press. He will also find allies in the current Congress and in the two Democratic Commissioners on the FCC, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, who are committed to defending a free, independent and diverse media.

Obama's speech comes on the heels of a sweet victory: Senator Byron Dorgan's successful push back against the Republican-dominated FCC's efforts to repeal the cross-ownership rule -- which would allow media oligarchs like Murdoch to gobble up more outlets in one city. Dorgan's Senate resolution --which would work to ban a single owner from controlling a tv station and a newspaper in the same market -- has 25 co-sponsors and corresponding legislation has been introduced in the the House.

Obama is tapping into the powerful and passionate view shared by millions of Americans that our current hyper-consolidated media landscape -- with 90% of it controlled by some six corporations -- is a disservice to a democracy which demands diverse voices and views.
By Katrina vanden Heuvel
Reprinted with permission from The Nation

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