Introducing the New Book by Eli Noam: Media Ownership and Concentration in America
People have worried for many years about the concentration of private power over the media, as evidenced by controversy over Federal Communication Commission rulings on broadcast ownership limits. The fear, it seems, is of a media mogul with a political agenda: a new William Randolph Hearst who could help start wars or run for political office using the power of the media. In the light of these concerns about freedom of speech, Eli Noam provides a comprehensive survey of media concentration in America, covering everything from the early media empire of Benjamin Franklin to the modern-day cellular phone industry. He not only assembles a wealth of current data about the mass media outlets, including radio, television, music, print and publishing, but also discusses ownership and concentration in the information technology sector (computers and software), and the telecommunications industry (long-distance and local phone services, and mobile phone services). He then provides a powerful summary of concentration trends across industries, and draws conclusions, making the case that while in some industries there are legitimate fears of over-consolidation, we are much better off today than in the early days of the republic, when politicians bribed and subsidized the press, or in the early 20th century, when Hearst had unrivaled power over the media. This book, as a vast resource of data about a large array of media industries, will be essential reading for scholars and students in the history of business, e-commerce, and business technology, as well as interested economists and policymakers.