Ed Miliband was quite right, in the pages of the Observer, to say that the root cause of the Hackgate scandal is the dominance News International enjoys over our media. His intimation; that we should look at dismantling it is also the correct conclusion. However, a couple of passing notes; the problem is not just with cross-media monopoly but with any kind of monopoly position in the media sector and, of course, Murdoch and News International are the most prominent symptoms of a deeper malaise and there are other monopolies out there that need to be challenged and dismantled. Slaying the biggest beast however, would be a huge victory in this war for a democratic media.
It's not politicians that are the main enemy of Murdoch and the media monopolists. Cultural currents created by the advent of social media and the internet age are battering the aged shores of these crumbling institutions. Had News of the World never happened Murdoch & Co would have eventually had to deal with these realities in any case. It would have been a slower, gradual and evolutionary change but the endemic corruption it has brought to light has presented an opportunity for a real revolution. Of course, both social media and the internet are subject to monopoly-creep of their own and in a wide-ranging package of measures this would have to be addressed - most effectively at the international level, but also on a national level too. However, both social media and the internet allow us all to take much more control in creating our own media and in that they offer us a glimpse of how post-revolutionary media life might look in their crucial role in facilitation the democratic production and control of the flow of information within society.
Obviously, it enhances the ability of local communities not just to produce their own content but also publish and achieve national and even international recognition. This is something that should be encouraged and shows how easily co-operative forms of organisation and production can work easily alongside the tools; in the form of the internet, etc, that already exist. Of course, there will be weariness about the state taking a direct role in the media and even taking a supporting role for co-operatively owned media. However, in the interim, its a weariness that should be overcome. A programme of grants and funding as well as other kinds of support for co-operatively owned media is the next step - moving beyond the world of the domineering media monopolies and into a brave new world - and it's one that logically follows from the anti-monopoly agenda. As we continue to flesh out ideas on what a post-Murdoch media world would will look like this has to be a central plank of our media policy because only if it is will that realise the full potential of this moment to bring change a democratic media from being a lofty aspiration to a concrete reality.
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