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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Politics and Television « Previous | |Next »
January 14, 2012

What the media industry call "convergence" is all based on the realisation that, since the 1990s, most media – print, audio, video, graphics – have been reduced to the lowest common denominator: bits, the ones and zeroes of binary arithmetic. The TV industry assumed everything would converge on the television set in the living room.

The assumption where was that television industry was shaped in an era when broadcast (few-to-many) organisations were the dominant organizations in our media jungle. During this period electoral success required political parties to buy endless hours of expensive television time for commercials that advertise their virtues and, more often, roundly assail their opponents with often spurious claims. Television ruled and broadcasters shaped our viewing habits, changed our politics and determined how we spent much of our leisure time.

In Politics and Television: How To Level the Field in the blog of the New York Review of Books Max Frankel states in relation to the US that:

It has long been obvious that television ads dominate electioneering in America. Most of those thirty-second ads are glib at best but much of the time they are unfair smears of the opposition. And we all know that those sordid slanders work—the more negative the better—unless they are instantly answered with equally facile and equally expensive rebuttals.

He adds that a rational people looking for fairness in their politics would have long ago demanded that television time be made available at no cost and apportioned equally among rival candidates.

Frankel adds:

But no one expects that any such arrangement is now possible. Political ads are jealously guarded as a major source of income by television stations. And what passes for news on most TV channels gives short shrift to most political campaigns except perhaps to “cover” the advertising combat.

This is another way in which the media has failed citizens in a liberal democracy--it fails to provide comprehensive and serious account of serious news as distinct from infotainment.

An example of this in Australia is how the television industry media grabs represents Tony Abbott in hard hat and yellow vest standing in battler country raging about the carbon tax will destroy the country and ruin us all via the pressures on the cost of living. No attempt is made by the televisual media to unpack the distortions, misrepresentations and lies about carbon pricing. We just have the media grab of Abbott saying Whyalla will be wiped out. They just toss the stories in and wash their hands of the ethics.

The tabloid form of the televisual industry is often the purveyor of misinformation and misrepresentation in their stories (eg., "whipping up a climate of fear of Islam) and it has little interest in self-criticism about its process of dumbing down as its audience fragments across the internet. There any no financial penalties (heavy fines) for lying by regulators in Australia. There ought to be.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:13 PM | | Comments (1)
Comments

Comments

Opponents of the price on carbon demonise the issue by creating an impression that there will be a huge impact on electricity prices and therefore household budgets will be under increasing pressure.

The media have not called them on it. Not even when Australian households spend more on booze, sweets and tobacco than they do on electricity.