Monday, September 26, 2011

¡The Uses and Value of Diversity!

In her article, Einstein discusses many different ways that broadcasters use "diversity" in order to serve the required needs of the public consumers. The two main ways to create diversity are through open markets and through regulations. In the open market "school of thought," communication companies, in this case the broadcasters using the public airspace, will create an adequate number of shows due to competition between corporations. No regulation is needed because the market will police itself due to the competitive nature of the industry. Quality and Quantity will both be at a premium - and sheer quantity is certainly one way to view broadcast diversity. The second school of thought on Diversity is that regulation is a necessary and driving factor in the creation of diversity on broadcast programming. Pro-regulators argue that only through government regulated educational and informational programing, can the public need to be "informed citizens" be fully met.

In either case, diversity is meeting the government enforced mantra of broadcast operation in the way to best serve
"public interest, convenience & necessity." As Einstien relates, achieving diversity in it's most valuable sense is a multitude of programming that effectively covers as many cultures, classes, genres, etc. as possible. After all, more quality programming is better than the alternative. Therefore, public broadcasters are serving the public interest when they create more shows, whether they are compelled to do so in the free market or regulatory model. As the Supreme Court has previously upheld, the consumer has more of a right to the "public interest" than broadcasters do, and content and corporate diversity is one of the ways broadcasters attempt to satisfy this media mandate.
Free market competition, as well as government regulations also address the "convenience and necessity" clause in the 1934 Communications act. Through competition between broadcast networks, the consumption of the public product is becoming more and more convenient. Through this type of diversity, the media are accessible through a far wider array of technologies than in the past, making the aforementioned consumption of the broadcasters product far more convenient.

If diversity is a way that broadcasters operate in the public interest, convenience and necessity of the consumer, than it's value is inherent (unlike the definition of diversity, but you already know that). Diversity is beneficial for the consumer first and foremost, and, according the the U.S. Constitution and First Amendment, that's the way a public good should operate. Thinking back to the model we discuss in class, with the circulation of money and power between the three main parties (consumers, advertisers, and broadcasters), it is now easier to see how, because of media mandates like diversity, the consumer is given the most power when it comes to public goods.

McCavitt Carter

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