Book Reviews -- Networks of Power: Corporate TV's Threat to Democracy by Dennis W. Mazzocco

Article excerpt

Mazzocco, Dennis W. Networks of Power: Corporate TV's Threat to Democracy. Boston: South End Press, 1994. 208 pp. $19.

This book, in the author's words, "is an expose of the history and current state of concentrated media ownership and monopoly prominent within U.S. network television today." In the preface, Dennis W. Mazzocco states, "After working for nearly twenty years as an insider for the ABC and NBC television networks, both as a management executive and as a producer-writer-director on several hundred programs, I can say that "Network" (the 1976 movie by Paddy Chayefsky) does not exaggerate when it describes corporate media as an extension of state power."

For the next five chapters, he weaves a narrative of ABC's take over in the 1980s by Capital Cities. Then, in the final chapter, he offers his solutions for avoiding and breaking up media concentration.

The first chapter details Mazzocco's experiences as an industry insider, beginning with his student internship days and continuing through his twenty-year employment with ABC, NBC, and various public and commercial stations. The next two chapters describe the histories of ABC and Capital Cities. Detailed are dominant, influential associations among their corporate officers. These affiliations are critical to these companies' successes and to their merger in 1985.

Chapter four delineates the merger in detail and includes interesting backstage information and insights. Capital Cities/ABC postmerger actions and accomplishments are recounted in the next chapter. Here he tracks corporate practices over the seven-year period following the merger and suggests "that monopolistic control over media information and cultural production by an elite cadre of political or business insiders subverts democracy."

The last chapter offers opinions and suggestions for reshaping the media to make them more democratic. …