Problem

Irresponsible private control of communications mass media

Other Names:
Proprietorial influence syndrome in the media
Nature:
Privately owned organizations in the communication field wield power in setting patterns, forming attitudes, and motivating behaviour which is comparable to that of government, and sometimes - because of the financial resources committed - even greater. These corporations in mass media do not always consider adequately the ethical and social norms, spiritual and cultural values of the societies into which they are transmitting and thus can inflict conflicting or degrading values onto their vulnerable audiences, causing dissension and unrest.
Incidence:
During the Gulf War, there were frequent presentations on USA television news of images of missiles and fighter planes. The film was often described as Pentagon footage whereas in many cases it is claimed to have been product commercials directly from the press offices of the major munitions suppliers, including General Electric which was the sole owner of the major network NBC.

In 2000, CNN representatives expressed concern about reports of American Jews selling off stock in the parent company, in protest over the network's coverage of the situation in the Middle-East after the breakdown of the peace accord. From the other side, Jewish leaders in the USA said they were having some success in convincing CNN to change its reportage on the conflict. In a direct effort to mollify its critics, for example, CNN stopped airing reports from a specific correspondent in Gaza and ceased referring to the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo as a 'settlement'.

Counter Claim:
Private activity in communications mass media works in the public's interest and lends itself to the variety, popularity, flexibility, free thought and competition that the non-private communications media do not have.
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
13.12.2000 – 00:00 CET