More thoughts on media ownership

To reiterate, I agree with Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen in opposing proposed FCC rule changes that would permit greater media consolidation. But

The changes would have increased the number of TV stations a company can own in one market, and repealed the cross-ownership ban, which blocks a company from owning a TV station and newspaper in the same town.

You know, like the owners of KING-5 or one of the other local TV stations buying the Seattle P-I and making a competitive run at the Times by consolidating their news gathering operations. That, according to Frank, just wouldn’t serve our local community interests as much as, say… driving the P-I out of business and turning Seattle into a one-newspaper town.

Of course, what the current regulations don’t do is prevent a local TV station from expanding its news operations and transforming its website into an online Seattle Times killer.

I’m just saying.


  1. 1

    skagit spews:

    We have moved so far along the pathway to becoming a total corporate culture, I’m not sure we can turn back. How can we reverse this situation? When did the anti-trust laws become so ineffective? Don’t you guys ever get tired of just the talk? How can we change it? Who can change it?

    I’m impressed by the knowledge on this thread (minus the AssxNine Kennedies). What can be done?

  2. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Frank Blethen is living proof that the objective of all businessmen is to eliminate their competition and own a monopoly.

  3. 5

    harry poon spews:

    If capital has free movement, so should labor. Then labor goes where wages are highest and the “cheap labor” people need to raise wages to draw them back.

    Why would a Mexican work for $5 a day at a Maquiladora on the border when they can walk across the border and get $10 an hour at WalMart?

    Put on your thinking caps.

  4. 6

    spyder spews:

    Perhaps the hidden blessing is the losing markets for broadcast television and radio. As the internet(s)’ tubes become more used by diverse populations interested in the plethora of connections available, the corporate media is losing its grip on the advertisers and and the people. The worry for me is maintaining net neutrality and open access to the greatest diversity of people. If media corporations (rather than telecoms and server host companies) start controlling the ingress/egress points of web connecting, we are all in deep trouble.

  5. 7

    Tlazolteotl spews:

    skagit @1:

    There is a simple constitutional amendment that some have proposed, that could go a long way:

    “A corporation is not a person.”

  6. 8

    harry poon spews:

    re 7: A few towns have revoked corporate personhood and are holding corporate officers directly responsible for their corporatin’s depradations. One in PA and one inCA. Check it out.

    The national gov. is pretty much ownwed by the co.’s. We have to go around them and create A plethora of laws that they will have to challenge independently.

  7. 12

    harry poon spews:

    “In a small community on California’s north coast, a ‘Resolution on Corporate Personhood in the City of Point Arena’ was passed by the City Council in a 4-1 vote on 25 April 2000. The resolution disavows the personhood status of corporations, encourages public discussion on the role of corporations in public life, and urges other cities to foster similar public discussion.”

    A nightmare’s brewin’ for corporate America…

  8. 13

    harry poon spews:
    From the American Revolution through to the end of the 19th century, in the words of Richard Grossman,
    “Earlier generations of Americans were quite clear that a corporation was an artificial, subordinate entity with no inherent rights of its own, and that incorporation was a privilege bestowed by the sovereign people. For example, in 1834 the Pennsylvania Legislature declared: ‘A corporation in law is just what the incorporation act makes it. It is the creature of the law and may be molded to any shape or for any purpose that the Legislature may deem most conducive to the common good.'”
    Grossman continues,
    “People understood that they had a civic responsibility not to create artificial entities which could harm the body politic, interfere with the mechanisms of self-governance, and assault their sovereignty. They also understood that they did not elect their agents to positions in government to sell off the sovereignty of the people.”

  9. 15

    harry poon spews:


    “Multinational Monitor: What is corporate personhood?
    Jan Edwards: It is corporations having rights in the constitution that are normally meant for human beings. Those rights include rights in the Bill of Rights, the Fourteenth Amendment, and civil rights laws.
    MM: How did corporations gain these rights?
    Edwards: The founding fathers of the United States were not interested in giving constitutional rights to corporations. In fact, they wanted to regulate corporations very tightly because they had had bad experiences with corporations during colonial times. The crown charter corporations like the East India Company and the Hudson Bay Company had been the rulers of America. So when the constitution was written, corporations were left out of the Constitution. Responsibility for corporate chartering was given to the states. State governance was closer to the people and would enable them to keep an eye on corporations.
    In the eighteenth century, corporations had very few of the powers that we now associate with them. They did not have limited liability. They did not have an unlimited life span. They were chartered for a limited period of time, say 10 or 20 years, and for a specific public purpose, such as building a bridge. Often a charter would require that, after a certain amount of time, the bridge or road be turned over to the state or the town in which it was built. Corporations were viewed differently in early America. They were required to serve the public good.
    But over time people forgot that corporations had been so powerful and that they needed to be strongly controlled. Also, corporations began to gain more power as the wealthy elite.”

  10. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:


    “WASHINGTON (Dec. 2) – Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction. …

    “Nor did Mr. Rumsfeld seem confident that the administration would readily develop an effective alternative.

    “To limit the political fallout from shifting course he suggested the administration consider a campaign to lower public expectations. ‘Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis,’ he wrote. ‘This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not “lose.” Recast the … mission and … goals (how we talk about them) – go minimalist,’ he added.

    “Mr. Rumsfeld’s memo … calls for examination of ideas that roughly parallel troop withdrawal proposals presented by some of the White House’s sharpest Democratic critics.

    “The … memo puts on the table several ideas for troop redeployments or withdrawals that appear to conflict with recent public pronouncements from commanders in Iraq emphasizing the need to maintain troop levels. …

    “The memo was finished one day after President Bush interviewed Robert M. Gates, the president of Texas A&M University, as a potential successor to Mr. Rumsfeld and one day before the midterm elections. By then it was clear that the Republicans appeared likely to suffer a setback at the polls and that the administration was poised to begin reconsidering its Iraq strategy. …”

  11. 17

    harry poon spews:

    We need tort reform to make it easier to sue corporate officers as being PERSONALLY reponsible for their corporate actions actions.

  12. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Corporations are the modern equivalent of 19th century trusts. Multinationals are trying to put themselves beyond the reach of any government or laws.

  13. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hey wingnuts! Your make-believe world is collapsing. We learned today that Rummy secretly told Bush the day before the election that we’re losing in Iraq and might have to “declare victory” and recast the mission statement.

  14. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hey wingnuts! The Iraq fiasco is your baby! Alllll yourssss!! You pigfuckers OWN this defeat.

  15. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Bush is like the horn-tooting ferry captain who ran aground in Grindstone Harbor while showing off to his girlfriend. We should take it out of his pay.

  16. 23

    skagit spews:

    Back to the corporate thing: I thought that corporations as persons was protected in the Constitution. I read a very long time ago that Madison or Monroe (one of the M’s) argued for some semblence of personhood be maintained and managed to maintain language allowing personhood. Anybody know?

    Also, if Corporations can be deemed “persons,” I always thought that states could grant more right than the Feds but could never rescind rights granted by the Feds.

    Anybody know?

    I would like to see corporate language gone. Why shouldn’t people who start businesses be responsible for what they do. We don’t need any business to be that big. I have an old-fashioned idea that small businesses serve communities best.

    And I’m of the opinion that once corporations become thoroughly globalized and we’re not quite there yet, we will truly be looking at Big Brother and it won’t be “government” because corporations will become the “government.” Look at how many of our politicians are in the pockets of big government now.

    Sorry to have so few facts. Am curious how those towns can change the status of corporations. BTW, I remember hearing that a corporation was taken to court and sued because it was not doing something for the public good and the plaintiff lost because the only obligation a corporation has is to increase profitability for shareholders.

  17. 24

    sgmmac spews:

    How about if we hold all politicians directly responsible? Lets’ impeach Ron Sims for the King County Coroner stealing and selling the brains from the dead in King County…….

    Let’s impeach Gregoire for every trangression that happened in the Attorney General’s Office while she was in charge………….

    Let’s hold the mayors of cities responsible whenever there is a rape or murder in their city…………

    No? Too extreme?

  18. 25

    Don Joe spews:


    How ’bout we just hold President Bush responsible for the violations of law that he authorized? That should be enough.

  19. 27

    harry poon spews:

    re 22: Here’s the personhood info.:

    This is the text of the 1886 Supreme Court decision granting corporations the same rights as living persons under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Quoting from David Korten’s The Post-Corporate World, Life After Capitalism (pp.185-6):
    In 1886, . . . in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a private corporation is a person and entitled to the legal rights and protections the Constitutions affords to any person. Because the Constitution makes no mention of corporations, it is a fairly clear case of the Court’s taking it upon itself to rewrite the Constitution.
    Far more remarkable, however, is that the doctrine of corporate personhood, which subsequently became a cornerstone of corporate law, was introduced into this 1886 decision without argument. According to the official case record, Supreme Court Justice Morrison Remick Waite simply pronounced before the beginning of arguement in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company that
    The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does.
    The court reporter duly entered into the summary record of the Court’s findings that
    The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteen Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    Thus it was that a two-sentence assertion by a single judge elevated corporations to the status of persons under the law, prepared the way for the rise of global corporate rule, and thereby changed the course of history.
    The doctrine of corporate personhood creates an interesting legal contradiction. The corporation is owned by its shareholders and is therefore their property. If it is also a legal person, then it is a person owned by others and thus exists in a condition of slavery — a status explicitly forbidden by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. So is a corporation a person illegally held in servitude by its shareholders? Or is it a person who enjoys the rights of personhood that take precedence over the presumed ownership rights of its shareholders? So far as I have been able to determine, this contradiction has not been directly addressed by the courts.
    This file is mirrored from:

  20. 28

    harry poon spews:

    Note the phrase “… because the Constitution makes no mention of corporations.”

    Judicial activism of the most blatant sort. But you won’t hear conservatives reference it. Why? Because conservatives are interested only in their ideology.

  21. 29

    harry poon spews:

    re 26: Hence my argument that it is unconstitutional to own stock in a corporation because it is unconstitutional to own a person. It’s involuntary servitude.

    This is a prfectly logical, legal, and consistent idea — unless you really don’t believe in corporate personhood as anything more than a legal fiction to lord it over your fellow citizens.

  22. 31

    Yer Killin Me spews:


    Thanks for the information, Harry. I knew Southern Pacific was the relevant court case but didn’t have the other information available.

    Sounds to me like the Supremes — or rather Justice White — just declared it to be so, and no one has challenged it yet. Maybe what we really need is a test case to come before today’s Supreme Court that would challenge the idea of the personhood of a corporation. I’m not sure taking a case like that in front of this court is such a good idea, though, since we can guarantee four corporatist votes from the current bench.

    Personally I think it would be cool to see an ad hoc organization modeled along the lines of Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (except honest, of course) dedicated to the idea of overturning Southern Pacific. Unfortunately, though, I don’t know where the money for such an endeavor would come from. It’s not an issue that’s sexy enough for Joe Sixpack and obviously it wouldn’t be able to count on funding from any sort of corporate entite.

  23. 33

    ArtFart spews:

    30 The idea of anything even tenuously connected with Grover Norquist being honest is to far-fetched to comprehend.

  24. 34

    Yer Killin Me spews:

    Yeah, I know, I wish I had a better example of a well-connected, well-organized operation intent on a single, easily-identifiable goal.

  25. 35

    ConservativeFirst spews:

    You left off your usual compliment of how many comments there are on this thread compared to SoundPolitics comment threads Roger/harry.