Chomsky’s Response

following is the response and a letter on this:

From: chomsky@MIT.EDU
Subject: RE: the funding model for the media is corrupt
Date: September 1, 2012 11:56:14 AM MDT (CA)

You’re right about the funding effect. There’s quite a lot of work on this, including a co-authored book of mine: Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent. Extensive work has been done by Robert McChesney, one of the leading media critics. And others.

From: Breezy Brian Gregg []
Sent: Saturday, September 01, 2012 1:52 PM
Subject: the funding model for the media is corrupt

Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus)
Linguistic Theory, Syntax, Semantics, Philosophy of Language

Dear Sir

I wonder why no one yet seems to have observed that the funding model we use for the mass media is responsible for its failure to effectively function as the public’s window to truth. Also I wonder why no one seems to have come to the conclusion that we cannot have democracy so long as we continue to use our present funding model for media.

Except for a very small portion that is publicly funded the media is funded by selling advertising time and space. This funding model for the mass media is wrong.

Wrong for the citizen, wrong for the consumer, wrong for the innovator. Wrong because it is not fair.

I keep putting this forward to anyone I can in the hope that some major news paper will have the foresight to know that someday all media will be publicly funded. It is time to start talking about it even though to do so jeopardizes funding in the short term. Who can see how in 50 or 100 years we would want to have anything else?

The very thing I am talking about is such a good example of suppression of opinion. We can’t even ask publicly what would it be like if all the media was publicly funded instead of being funded by the sale of advertising?

Why would we not want everyone to always have the opportunity to know anything that is knowable? Why would we not want everyone to be continually interrupted or distracted, and have their time wasted by some message that is only in the interest of whoever bought the advertising? Why? would we not be happy to pay some tax to have the former and to avoid the latter.

This in not about concentration of ownership in the media. That is a separate problem that should also be dealt with, however even if the ownership was hugely diluted this other problem would still exist. Today’s method of funding the media is absurd. Sustaining the media by selling advertising time and space results in a subversion of democracy.

I don’t know why it should not be simple to see that only the very wealthy can afford to buy mass advertising and therefore the very wealthy have a privilege of making their voice overly large and loud in the public’s ears and eyes and consequently their minds. This media we have today is essentially a brainwashing machine that is used by the very wealthy to shape the public’s thinking and to therefore direct citizen’s actions as consumers and voters.

There are five things I complain about regarding sustaining the media by selling advertising.

  1. Your media cannot always tell you the truth, when the truth hurts an advertiser.
  2. You are being ripped off. You pay for the advertising when you buy a product or service. Ads do not give us free media. We are conditioned to baulk at paying a small tax for good service but blindly pay a hidden cost anyway for second rate service.
  3. Your time is being wasted. Millions of man hours are wasted waiting for a commercial break to end.
  4. Your democracy is being subverted. If I can buy 10 ads and you can only by 3, is it democracy when they vote for me?
  5. The free market has become a competition for quality of hype instead of a competition for quality.

All Media Publicly Funded : Democratic Socialized Media is the idea that to avoid the negatives above governments should abolish advertising in the media and replace that source of funding with government funding based on INDEPENDENT RATINGS.

Based on INDEPENDENT RATINGS because otherwise it would be as bad to have the government control content as it is bad to now have the corporate culture controlling content. The whole industry as it is today except a tiny fraction that is publicly funded, depends on ratings. The ratings determine what price any particular media outlet can charge when they sell advertising time and space. It is kind of big brotherish except individuals are not identified. It is an accounting of what is being read watched and listened too. I some areas it is approximate based on statistical surveys but more and more it is becoming exact. Music can be identified by machines and of course there is the exact counting of mouse clicks on the internet.

One might worry about corrupt manipulations of the data to try and cheat the system but attempts to cheat are a given in anything. It is part of public life to find loop holes as they come into use and close them up. I think it is fair to conclude that there should be a high degree of self policing in ratings. Where you have a large number of media options competing for ratings anyone and everyone in the media business, will be double checking that there is fairness.

The beauty of this is that it is truly democratic. The users, the consumers of media, the citizens …. what ever you want to call them, they are the ones that decide together what media gets a lot or a little funding. It is proportional too. No first past the post. Two necessary conditions on the funding formula though. There has to be an extra subsidy for media to present minority views and there has to be an extra subsidy for 20 or 50 years for print and broadcast media for the sake of people who cannot afford or learn to use internet.

Thank you for your work. You are an inspiration to me.
Breezy Brian Gregg from Canada

info@socializedmedia.netSOCIALIZED MEDIA: Abolish advertising in the media and replace this source of funding with government funding based on arms length independent ratings.