Equal Voice! Break the Corporate Mega-Media Dictatorship by Reintroducing the Wagner-Hatfield Amendment
The Wagner-Hatfield Amendment was a proposed amendment to the Communications Act of 1934, sponsored by senators Robert F. Wagner, Democrat, of New York and Henry D. Hatfield, Republican, of West Virginia. The amendment would have reserved 25% of all radio stations for non-profit radio broadcasters, including universities. The amendment was enthusiastically supported by educators. Of course it was vigorously attacked by the for-profit radio lobby.
The amendment almost passed but was defeated. If the amendment were reintroduced and passed, it would effectively break the corporate mega-media monopoly. Universities would be more likely than corporations to give alternate voices a chance to be heard.
Using the internet to challenge the corporate mega-media view of things is an admirable use of the internet. But why should we accept that inherent disadvantage? Reintroduce the Wagner-Hatfield amendment and pass it, and the disadvantage will disappear overnight. There were no TV stations when the amendment was proposed. But today it would have to include them to be fair. If universities had their own TV stations they could reach far more people than the average blog. And if they had of had equal access to media since 1934, American history might be quite different.
“Equal Voice” should become an issue of emergent democracy. The average voter doesn’t have an equal voice even with their elected representatives, because campaign contributions talk louder. And media outlets have an even louder voice than politicians, who are limited to C-SPAN and periodic coverage by mainstream media of things like press conferences and State of the Union addresses. The public voice is effectively stifled by the arrangement.
No. Equal voice needs to mean equal access to media! That’s the only way voters will ever be able to effectively challenge a system that is stacked against them. All we need is a little volume so that our voices can be heard as loudly as the collective voice of mega-media corporations. The Wagner-Hatfield amendment might be just the crowbar we need to pry an opening in the iron wall of corporate mega-media control and give disenfranchised American voters the voice they have long been denied.