Media mergers and ownership consolidation aren’t just a recent phenomenon. Back “in the late 1960s, during a flurry of media-industry mergers, The Atlantic published several articles that pointedly asked, Who controls the media? and How big is too big?” Some of the questions the magazine explored then seem applicable once again.
New Jersey Unveils Dazzling Set of Fiddles
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is not generally mentioned in the same breath as the Boston Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, or the Cleveland Orchestra. But the Newark-based NJSO is now the proud caretaker of 30 of the world’s finest old Italian string instruments, a collection which would be the envy of any of the world’s greatest orchestras. So how do they sound? “Imagine being thirsty and drinking a glass of water – clean, functional, easy to ingest, it satisfies the basic need but little more. Now imagine being offered also a nice, steaming hot cup of the finest Belgian chocolate. Suddenly there is flavor, there is a sequence of sensations… This is something like the difference between the NJSO’s string sound pre-Strads and now.”
What Does FCC Deregulation Mean?
“Despite the disingenuous if not wholly cynical blather of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Monday’s vote is antithetical to promoting diversity and will allow, if not guarantee, that Americans are served an ever-more-homogenized news and entertainment product by the same handful of gigantic entities that already control the majority of the most popular venues and channels. If you doubt it, all you have to do is turn on your radio.”
Satellite Radio Catching On
After some initial resistance, digital satellite radio appears to be catching on with consumers in the US. The two satellite radio services are piling up new customers, and equipment to play the new programming is becoming more available.
Project Bandaloop is “a group in Oakland that combines dance with the art of climbing.” The company “seeks out such places as the 12,000-foot Sawtooth Ridge in the Sierra’ where the dancers “hang by ropes and perform choreography in the air.”
America’s Top Arts Cities
Which American city is tops in the arts? If you said New York, you’re wrong. At least according to AmericanStyle magazine. The Magazine ranks America’s best arts cities. “The survey – something less than scientific, since its results are based on reader votes – purports to show that the Midwest is emerging as a new area of artistic influence. Chicago, for example, moved up to No. 1 from its No. 5 position in 2002. And newcomers in the top 25 include Milwaukee and Columbus, with Cleveland returning to the list for the first time since 1998.”
After The Building, What?
Building a new performing arts center is only the beginning. After it’s beuilt you have to invest money on what goes inside it. Mangers of the new Miami Dade performing arts center in Florida project it will take a $100 million to get programming and resident companies on sound footing once the hall opens. With the Florida Philharmonic recently imploding, some wonder if the community is ready to step up and make the investment required.
Miami Ballet’s Stellar Season
Miami Ballet is flourishing. The company has just had a record year, selling 3,000 more tickets than last season, “surpassed expectations on earned and contributed income and ended the year with a surplus.” The reason? “People like spectacles” and that’s what they got.
Is Australia Bleeding Its Public Broadcaster Dry?
Australia’s public broadcaster ABC is being bled of funding. “It’s a tried and true tactic. You distract the rest of the media from the issue of the long-term, incremental de-funding of the ABC by lobbing a few verbal grenades in Aunty’s direction. Commentators become so fixated on reporting the resulting explosions and collateral damage, they forget to take a step back and analyse the political and cultural implications of that de-funding process. What we need is a discussion about the vital role of the ABC in informing Australians about public affairs.”
FCC Relaxes Media Ownership Rules
The FCC has relaxed controls on media ownership. “The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 – along party lines – to adopt a series of changes favored by media companies. These companies argued that existing ownership rules were outmoded on a media landscape that has been substantially altered by cable TV, satellite broadcasts and the Internet. Critics say the eased restrictions would likely lead to a wave of mergers landing a few giant media companies in control of even more of what the public sees, hears and reads.”