Free Speech for Sale

Topics: Mass media, Concentration of media ownership, News media Pages: 3 (965 words) Published: November 30, 2010
Under the constitution, every American has the right of free speech, but does free speech matter if no one can hear it? “Free Speech for sale” reveals the painful truth that free speech, and the certainty that one will be heard, is guaranteed only to those who can afford it. And corporations can afford it. Whether through purchasing massive amounts of advertising for political purposes, or by owning the companies that bring people the news, powerful corporations are able to drown out the voices that disagree with them - and it's all perfectly legal. To me, this situation calls into question how true our democracy really is. Are we as the voters receiving the thorough information we need to make decisions? Or are we being fed censored or biased news, and just eating it up without asking any questions? The movie starts with the story of a politician in North Carolina who crossed the powerful hog industry. The industry targeted freshman state legislator Cindy Watson, a conservative Republican who had helped to curb the rapid growth of the hog industry so that environmental concerns about hog-waste disposal could be addressed. When Watson was up for re-election, the hog industry, under the guise of a group called "Farmers for Fairness," launched a huge advertising campaign against her. She didn't have the money to answer. Though the ads were obviously political in nature and aimed directly at Watson, they were completely legal and unregulated by any campaign finance law because they carefully avoided directly asking the public to vote against her. This is a prime example of how corporations use legal trickery to get what they want. However, at the core, it really is politics. But what are the implications for "free" speech when huge corporations attempt to influence the debate not by simply buying media time, but by buying the media itself? The movie looks at what happened when the big media companies set out to get Congress to enact the Telecommunications Act of...
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