Megamedia: How Giant Corporations Dominate Mass Media, Distort Competition, and Endanger Democracy

Article excerpt

Megamedia: How Giant Corporations Dominate Mass Media, Distort Competition, and Endanger Democracy. Dean Alger. Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1998. 276 pp. $27.95 hbk.

Dean Alger doesn't mince words. The title of his book clearly reflects his opinion of the effects of media mergers and acquisitions on the quality of information available to today's media consumers. Alger notes that his book isn't a full-scale study of media conglomerate control, but it does provide an updated and detailed analysis of the problem, with a comprehensive bibliography of sources for further reading. His stated goal is "to provoke much more discussion and debate among [his] fellow professionals and, more important, in the mass media and among the general public."

Alger, who holds a doctoral degree in political science and was a fellow in the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, recently appeared in a Bill Moyers PBS special, discussing television news coverage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. He noted that, during nine months of congressional debate on legislation to provide broadcasters new, free channels to help make the transition to digital capabilities, the three major broadcast news outlets aired a mere nineteen minutes of reporting on the issue.

Alger devotes considerably more time to this issue-an entire chapter-in which he reviews and analyzes the history of telecommunications legislation and the lack of any significant information provided to the public by the major broadcast news organizations, all of whom had a vested interest in the outcome of the congressional debate.

Other chapters explore the consequences of media conglomerate self-interest on democratic processes, the growth of media conglomerates outside the United States, and Alger's recommendations for addressing and redressing those consequences. …


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