Michael Powell Bemoans the Loss of Ron Burgundy

Susan Crawford blogs former FCC Chair Michael Powell’s remarks at Silicon Flatirons. Like Ted Koppel and others, he misses the days when Ron Burgundy and Walter Cronkite gave us the world in 22 minutes:

He said (paraphrasing here): “My argument is that the problem with media is not concentration, it’s hypercompetition. We’re fragmenting media, so we’re getting ‘me tv.’ Do we really want this much diversity? This is a social problem. We are losing community. In the Walter Cronkite area, because the media market was so concentrated we had a communal media experience — we had no choice but to talk about the previous night’s broadcast. Our minds were opened because we had to listen to stories we might not have chosen to hear.”

My derision aside, as usual, I find something appealing in Powell’s remarks:

He went on: …. Media regulation is premised on the idea of scarcity, but what do you do in an era of abundance? Does anyone really think there’s scarcity any more?”…

He finished by saying, “Until we get our metrics coherent, until we decide what we care about as a country, these media issues are explosive and unsolvable in a public policy sense.”


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