Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Radio Regulated

The phrase “history repeats itself” is a given when discussing mass media. Every time a new type of media appears, you get a series of steps that are almost identical to one another and radio is no exception.

  1. New media is created

  2. A multitude of companies jump on the bandwagon hoping to make millions until no one can make a profit

  3. The government intervenes creating some type of regulation of the “new industry” and it models it based on the previous media with some minor changes

  4. Only a few companies survive or are able to continue operating granted there are no monopolistic tendencies

  5. Politics become a central issue on the expansion and control of the new media

“The post office lost its bid to control the telegraph in 1846, Western Union abandoned the telephone in 1879, and AT&T withdrew from broadcasting in 1926.” Starr P. 346

In 1927 the Radio Act prohibited telegraph and telephone companies to be involved in Radio in an effort to stop some large companies from having too much control of different media types. Politics and excessive power have always been a determining factor behind many of these decisions.

“AT&T, as the only company capable of achieving the economies of scale afforded by a network, might have been able to dominate radio—that is, if the government would have allowed the Bell System to extend its monopoly from long-distance telephone services to broadcasting.” Starr P. 337

As it was, AT&T would become one the largest monopolies in the United States only to be broken into sub companies not too long ago. Airwave regulation and control became an issue and were politically motivated just like years before was the case with newspapers.

In the end, there were no clear winners just survivors from all the excitement of the utopian moment so characteristic in these cases until a new type of media comes along.


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