Friday, January 25, 2008

Who profit's off of political campaigning?

Political campaigning is a necessity for a politician seeking election. The most useful form of communication between a hopeful candidate and the public is through the popular media format of television. Political campaign spending is set to reach an all time high this year at an astounding 2.5 billion by the end of 2008. That is 2/3 more than spent in 2004--which set the previous record. Now where is this money going?

The money is collected from the public to support a candidate of their choice. Which then is spent for a 30-second ad to a media conglomerate, a corporation.

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The top corporation's are CBS, Sinclair, Ion Media, and News Corporation. All the money collected from political campaigning goes straight to the pocket's the few in-charge of these conglomerate-broadcasting stations.

These companies buy out local stations, and give them a quota to meet. They eventually meet this quota, and a good portion of that is because of political campaigning. For example, in” New Hampshire on the night before the primary the state’s biggest TV station- WMUR in Manchester – aired 34 political ads in just ninety minutes. In the run-up to the primary, the station reportedly earned $11,000,000... from political ads."

Media conglomerates have been buying up more and more local TV Stations. Conglomerates own more than half of the stations that serve the state. News Corp. own 35 stations nationwide, CBS owns 39, Sinclair owns 46, and Ion Media on 57 stations nationwide.

So, why does this matter? Broadcasters aren't like other businesses. The public owns the airwaves that they use.

“Think of it this way: when a company drills for oil on public land it owes the public a royalty - a percentage of whatever it earns. Broadcasters don't have to pay for the licenses that give them the right to use the public airwaves but in exchange for those licenses, they ARE supposed to give something back to the public."

The Broadcaster's do not give back to the public, not with money, and not with what they're supposed to do, fulfilling their public interest obligations. They are supposed to insure that the public gets the information it needs to be an informed and engaged electorate.

"When scholars studied how local TV news covered the 2004 campaign they found that the average political story was just 86 seconds long, that stations spent more time reporting on weather, sports, and crime than they did on politics and that when they did report on campaigns, nearly half of all stories covered the "horse-race" - who was ahead and who was behind. That kind of reporting dominated the conglomerates' newscasts in the run-up to the Iowa and New Hampshire votes this year."

Because of the first amendment the press is given an enormous amount of freedom, and they use that freedom to rank in the big dollars. In return the Broadcaster’s do not spend the campaign money to inform the public of possible misleading campaign ad’s, or of when they are getting scammed, because those scam’s are what pay’s the bills.

“Broadcasters can get away with reaping huge profits from the public airwaves without giving back to the public because Washington has abandoned its obligation to hold stations accountable to the public interest. So in the end, what the public gets is a political campaign dominated by thirty-second sales pitches.”

written by: Jessica Erven (c) 2008

Work Cited: Bill Moyer's Journal broadcasted on KVPT January 25th, 2008

For more information visit:
Bill Moyer's Journal KVPT



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