Here’s a big heads up for media mavens (in case you haven’t already noticed): The times they are a’changing. With apologies to Bob Dylan, I would suggest that the U.S. has now joined the rest of the world with a newly elected leader who regards the media as one would a gnat: If it annoys you, swat it. Swat it hard. This puts us squarely in the global mainstream of authoritarianism, especially regarding freedom of speech. Out of curiosity (and a bit of masochism), I counted the number of nations with significant levels of press controls. On my first pass, the total came to 145.
In short, of the 197 sovereign countries in the world, the great majority have governments that to one extent or another attempt to regulate and control the various forms of media. True freedom is rare. And getting rarer.
Among the most repressive for press freedoms are (in alphabetical order by country/ruler): Cambodia/Hun Sen; China/Xi Jinping; Cuba/Raul Castro; Egypt/Abdel Fattah el-Sisi; France (maybe/Marine Le Pen?); Hungary/Viktor Orban; Iran/Hassan Rouhani; Phillipines/Rodrigo Duterte; Poland/Andrzej Duda; Russia/Vladimir Putin; The 7 ‘Stans’; Turkey/Recep Tayyin Erdogan; Venezuela/Nicolas Maduro; Vietnam/Tra Eai Quang, and Zimbabwe/Robert Mugabe.
Is this Donald Trump’s list of role models?
There you have it, a list of people who can show our next President how to manage the media. He’ll be off to a good start having promised to sue The New York Times and to block the AT&T takeover of Time Warner. Not to mention the so-called enemies list that might or might not be real.
No matter, the next couple of years should be very interesting for all parts of the media business. I expect we’ll see both big gains and big losses. It behooves us all to keep our heads up.
Speaking of current press matters, here are a few questions worth pondering:
How long will it take to dismantle Net Neutrality and Comcast? (See below for a partial explanation.)
Will Tom Wheeler resign gracefully? Perhaps we’ll learn that on the evening of December 1 when the Federal Communications Bar Association hosts him at the Chairman’s Dinner (or Roast?).
What will media access look like at future Presidential press conferences? No more routine pool reporters along? Like the first flight to meet with our current President?
We already suggested, should the DoJ or FCC or FTC kill the proposed AT&T/TW deal that Comcast, with NBCUniversal, might be under the gun. Looks that way, doesn’t it? But, frankly, with our new government, there’s really no way to tell until something actually happens. It’s going to be fun guessing which assertion or statement really means something.
Check out -- no kidding -- “greatagain.gov” for transition news. And, by the way, every citizen will be issued a Twitter account that automatically joins the followers of @therealdonaldtrump.
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