It’s no secret that Donald Trump owes most, if not all, of his success to television. NBC’s The Apprentice branded Trump into capitalist success. His numerous WWE appearances over the years have cast him as a friendly blue collar billionaire. He then received over $2 billion worth of free corporate media coverage over the course of his primary campaign alone.
The Trump campaign “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” – Les Moonves, chief executive and chairman of CBS Corporation.
Add it all up and you get President Trump. A man who is now biting the hands that have fed him his entire career. Trump now vilifies the mainstream press with every passing breath. The entity that helped to propel him to the presidency should now be considered fake news and public enemy #1.
However, if you think for a second that the media has learned its lesson, you’d better think again. These media machines don’t care about journalism all of a sudden. They care about profits. President Trump is about to make every corporate media CEO very happy. A reward for their investment in the new commander in chief.
President Trump’s main objective in office is to deregulate everything. Not just environmental and labor protections like one might think. We’re talking everything, the media included. In an article by Lee Fang of the Intercept, he states that media executives are praising the new administration for a deregulatory agenda that would likely boost company profits.
Les Moonves of CBS told investors recently that he is “looking forward to not having as much regulation and having the ability to do more.” Moonves is also cheering the appointment of Trump’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney calling him “very beneficial to our business.”
We can expect Republicans to loosen restrictions on how many broadcast properties one company can own in any given market. We can also expect Republicans to lift the ban on media companies owning newspapers and broadcast TV stations in the same market, a practice known as cross-ownership.
According to Bloomberg, an ownership cap preventing one entity from owning enough stations to reach more than 39 percent of all U.S. households is also up for Congress to change.
FCC rules limit the number of television stations a single company may own. Up until 2003, a single broadcaster couldn’t reach beyond 35 percent of households nationwide. That year, Media company lobbyists persuaded Congress to increase the station cap rule from 35 to 39 percent. According to Lee Fang, Industry analysts have predicted that a Republican-controlled FCC will move the cap up to 49 percent.
Media consolidation is nothing new. It is partly responsible for the state we find the media in today. Bill Clinton oversaw the biggest overhaul of telecommunications law in more than half a century with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. A gift Republicans could only dream of. In a way, it’s not hard to fathom that by signing the Telecommunications Act into law, Bill Clinton would be sealing his wife’s fate twenty years later.
“The Telecommunications Act of 1996… enabled the handful of corporations dominating the airwaves to expand their power further. Mergers enabled tighter control of information” – Howard Zinn
When all is said, and done, the media will once again be more consolidated than ever before. They will wield more power and deregulating these media companies even more will further regulate the information we see and hear.
Les Moonves knew what he was doing by having CBS cover Donald Trump religiously back during the election cycle. Not only did CBS benefit from high ratings throughout, but he knew having a Republican in charge would increased the likelihood of making much more money down the road.
So, if you’re one of those naive liberal Americans who think the press is about to hold President Trump accountable as he insults them, stop dreaming. Because the media is about to get a lot worse in this country before it ever gets better.