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Media monopoly is good for you

Bloggers are once again tearing into corporate-funded studies that just happen to further corporate goals, in this case challenging a study that says big media chains are just as open, and have standards just as high as smaller, family-owned outlets.

I'm not sure if that is supposed to be entirely reassuring. But for what it's worth, the New Millennium Research Council study, penned by scholar Ben Compaine, paints a bright picture of blooming alternative media sources despite today's consolidation trends.

"There is no support for the contention that media ownership by chains or conglomerates leads to any consistent pattern of lowered standards, content, or performance when compared with media owned by families or small companies," the study reads.

In their critique, bloggers note that New Millennium is closely tied to Issue Dynamics, a Washington public affairs firm that numbers the big telecommunications companies among its clients. The NMRC has also released studies that boost those big telcos' goals.

Granted, the issue is complicated. The proliferation of cable channels and news sources (including bloggers) means that media empires can no longer have a monopoly over every news source that reaches an average small-town citizen's ears.

But let's remember that we live in an era where the media is generally viewed by the public as deserving of all the respect of a plague-bearing rat. Many of the shortcuts that TV stations and newspapers take are the result of business pressures driven by – that's right, cost-cutting media giants.

In short, all is clearly not OK in the media world. Monopoly is perhaps an antiquated word to describe consolidation, but we can not be blind to the results.