Billionaires, Public Interest Angels and the FCC
Ignore Those Public Interest Types, Warns Media Heiress
'Mya Cash' is a billionaire media heiress appearing in occasional street theatre and protests in New York City and Washington. She is the creation of Jennifer Pozner.
Editor's Note: On Friday, March 22, a coalition of public-interest groups that track media trends will travel to Washington to protest recent Federal Communications Commission policies favoring consolidation of media companies. Among the speakers will be 'Mya Cash,' who says she and FCC Chairman Michael Powell share the same 'public interest' perspective.
Hello, Darlings. This is Mya Cash, broadcasting heiress, with an urgent message from the Billionaires for More Media Mergers.
I’m appalled to report that a rag-tag group of leftist media activists calling themselves “Angels of the Public Interest” will gather outside the Federal Communications Commission on Friday, March 22, to slander a corporate American hero, FCC Chairman Michael Powell, whom they call a “unwise and unrighteous mortal.”
They’ve held this grudge since 1998, when Powell told that American Bar Association that his job was to protect the public interest from the likes of me and my fellow broadcasting billionaires, but he was “without a clue” about what he’s supposed to be protecting. “The night after I was sworn in, I waited for a visit from the angel of the public interest… but she did not come," he mused. "I... have had no divine awakening and no one has issued me my public interest crystal ball.”
Until today. Several dozen wing-wearing, halo-donning hippies from across the East Coast will present the FCC with a crystal ball outlining containing “public interest proclamations” that reek of commie propaganda. I mean, just listen to this stuff: They want the FCC to “promote information as a worldwide common good,” “defend public airwaves from privatization” and respect “pluralism and diversity,” whatever that means.
Luckily for me, no one’s listening to this socialist claptrap. Last month, a D.C. Appellate Court ruled I can now legally own TV stations and cable franchises in the same market. The same court ordered the FCC to rewrite or reverse a regulation preventing moguls like myself from controlling TV stations reaching more than 35 percent of American households. And as a result of separate rulings my cable companies can now officially deny competitors access to broadband Internet lines, bringing me one step closer to turning the 'Net into my own privatized playground.
And don’t expect the FCC to get in our way. In a recent profile, my buddy Powell told USA Today, “My religion is the market.”
It’s enough to make me weak-kneed. I mean, here’s an industry regulator who once called regulations “the oppressor.” As a Billionaire for More Media Mergers, I admire his bravado. It takes serious nerve for such a prominent public servant to redefine oppression as something that happens to transnational telecommunications giants like Viacom and Disney. Well done, Mr. Powell. Hurrah.
Speaking of Disney, Powell’s chief of staff, Marsha McBride, is a former Disney lobbyist. That’s great news for my other favorite Michael -– Michael Eisner, chairman of Disney, parent company of ABC News. Now, this Mike is a brilliant cross-promoter who can find the silver lining in every cloud for his shareholders. Just after 9/11, he told the LA Times that Disney would “use our own media companies to make sure the word gets out that it's a good idea to have a good time after a period of mourning -- to come to our parks, movies and buy 'Snow White' on DVD." That’s what I love about Eisner –- he never passes up an opportunity for profit. What a patriot.
Nothing is spin-proof when you control a media monopoly. I remember when staying “competitive” meant that my corporations had to pander to the little guy by offering better service, more choices, lower prices. It was just dreadful.
But we billionaires successfully redefined the term “competition.” Now it’s a euphemism for media mergers gobbling up smaller players, downsizing newsrooms, drowning out independent voices and gauging consumers with skyrocketing cable bills! And we achieved this semantic coup with the help of news properties like the Chicago Tribune, which praised Powell last year for pushing the FCC to, “foster competition through deregulation rather than government manipulation.”
Clearly, the regulatory landscape’s been really good to Mya Cash. And why not? We media billionaires are buy-partisan; we’ve been buying Republicans and Democrats for years. We’ve invested tens of millions in elections and lobbying over the past decade. And the legislative market’s been incredibly lucrative. By donating a paltry $5 million to the 'right people,' we were rewarded with free digital TV licenses –- public property valued at $70 billion. Quid pro quo, baby -– is what it’s all about.
And the best is yet to come. It’s only a matter of time before my broadcast companies can buy up major newspapers and magazines, and maybe even take over the telephone companies, too. This is all so marvelous! Soon, if you want to read the morning paper, watch the nightly news, play some tunes on the radio, catch some pay-per-view on cable, or surf the 'Net, you’ll have to come through me.
And they’ll be no coverage of tedious protests on my print, broadcast and online news outlets, that’s for sure -– but there will be ads, so many ads, selling you products targeted to your personal spending habits, which I’ll learn from tracking and trading your consumer information with marketers, who’ll call you on phone lines that I’ll also control…
Wow, I just get so excited when I realize how close I am to reaching my ultimate goal: total media domination. The possibilities for power are endless when you worship the free market. Thankfully, the FCC’s head-honcho shares my laissez-faire faith. So if any of you are tempted to side with those misguided “Public Interest Angels,” just remember, the nightly news is brought to you by MYa cash… not theirs.
This is Mya Cash, for TomPaine.com.
Published: Mar 21 2002