What Could Biden Do for Media? What Should Biden Do for Media?

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: What Could Biden Do for Media? What Should Biden Do for Media?

Maybe the real question is, what is Biden likely to do? But first, what's "media"?  For today's purposes, I'm suggesting the widest possible interpretation of what media actually is on the way to the 22nd century.  For one thing, it is connected and will increasingly be so as everything and everyone that can be connected shall be. That's not Pollyannish thinking; it'll happen.

Just think about some of the things that showed up in the virtual Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month … 5G capable (according to Verizon) of any million devices connected within any covered one square kilometer with a few devices clocking in at 310 miles per hour … bots for everything … more machines for thinking/monitoring … electric vertical takeoff/landing vehicles from GM … car-wide dashboard screens … smart masks for every possible lockdown … touchless everything … biometric everything … too many drones … a $3k connected, smart dog door … solar powered connected cars ... and so on.

Meanwhile, today, there are three communication stages to consider: (1) connected (or digital); (2) misconnected (or with limited connections all pretty much echoing one another as in CNN's Jake Tapper's allusion to the feedback loop of "MAGA media"), and (3) disconnected (or bewildered). Put 'em together and you've got "media" writ large.

Interacting with these various media are two types of consumers: digital and not digital. Media writ large, encompasses all of the above.

And now, looming over all of this, is the shadow of former Federal Contusion Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and his hobbyhorse that just won't go away: Net Neutrality.

Except today it's Internetwork Neutrality ... a.k.a. Net Neut on steroids. Joining this, of course, is the pesky persistence of the digital divide.

Expect both of these to get top billing on a Biden/Democratic "FCC To-Do" list.

One of the first things likely to be jettisoned via this list is the laissez fairehands-off deregulation championed by another former chairman, the recently retired Ajit Pai. While we're on the subject of FCC chairs, I'd say put your money on current Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel moving up to the top seat.

But back to our big media: The reality is that the extraordinarily dominating fringe business entities once known as the FAANG gang are now full- fledged players in media. With their advertising and internet infrastructure distribution activities, they've morphed into an integral part of the media landscape. Which, in turn, makes them subject to the FCC regulatory reach.

In short, look for all things media to get very, very interesting. And distinctly not easy. With only 49% of Washington Post/ABC poll respondents confident in the new President's decision-making, the new President and his teams have their work cut out for them.

One of their first jobs is a doozy: Finding a way to reach the MAGA world. Our current divide into a reality-based constituency and a MAGA constituency is truly frightening. And it raises the question of whether misinformation itself should be on the table for regulation. Which takes us back to the FAANG gang and all those sticky questions surrounding the 1st Amendment, if at all.

Random Notes

Of course, I'm aware there are more immediate needs in America today … and tomorrow.  This column is about when (and if) the new Administration has the time and resources to even pay attention to the media per se.

Interesting item in The Washington Post (01/18/21) notes that research firm Zignal Labs reports misinformation activities dropped 73% post-Trump.

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