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Biotech Bias and the Mainstream Media

By TwistedGreen in Media
Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 09:02:10 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

I was recently witness to an... intriguing revelation on CBS News one Monday night. Commercials can tell you a lot when you're watching TV. They tell you who sponsors the program you're watching, who their demographic is, who controls the programming on the station, and they can warn you on the bias of that particular network. For example, did you know that ABC is owned by Disney? Perhaps that's why you see those enigmatic Mickey Mouse commercials, and why they always have a "special presentation" when Disney releases a new movie. But another, more serious, situation can arise from commercial TV and the monopoly that is the media. I speak of bias in the news. Sure, you may have heard much of this before, but I've seen proof that it exists today, probably more than ever.

I noticed that during every commerical break during the CBS Evening News, almost every commercial was for some kind of drug! There were only a few commercials that weren't for drugs... those were generic restaurant commercials for Red Lobster that would fit mostly any demographic. But the thing that myself and several others in the room noticed most was the predominance of drug commercials. Then, near the end of the newscast, there was a short piece of genetically modified food and how it could "cure hunger" and the like. They do not address any of the major arguments for or against, but merely show pictures of starving africans, genetically modified rice, and the wonders of gene splicing and cloning. And all of this was about Pfizer's agriculture department and their new type of rice that is more nutritious, and a kind of tomato that produces a vaccine while it grows. And, if I'm not mistaken, most (if not all) of the drug commercials shows almost continuously between stories were for Pfizer. I find this disturbing. Does Pfizer have that much control over CBS? Even if Pfizer doesn't directly dictate what is said about genetics and agriculture, they no doubt have an influence. The producers of that new program are fearful of Pfizer pulling their commercials if they air something offensive; they will not air something against genetic engineering, as it would offend their advertizers. There is something very wrong with this.

I'm not against genetic engineering; it can be a very useful tool, but the problem with CBS' bias on genetic engineering is that it is merely a propaganda outlet for the few leaders in the field, like Pfizer. This will not do, and is a principle reason for publicly-funded media like Pacifica. These cannot be influced by money, as they do not accept corporate funding in any forms. Such blatant bias in major mainstream media is not good for anyone except those on top, and destroys the credibility of major media, revealing it for the business that it really is.

I've also noticed something else very interesting while reading Pfizer's site: Pfizer and Warner-Lambert Agree to $90 Billion Merger. An even bigger drug conglomerate looms, but maybe that's another story.


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Biotech Bias and the Mainstream Media | 43 comments (41 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Pfizer (2.40 / 5) (#2)
by Anonymous 6522 on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 02:41:27 AM EST

I thought Pfizer was a pharmaceutical company not a biotech/genetic engineering company.

Re: Pfizer (3.50 / 2) (#13)
by TwistedGreen on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 07:18:06 PM EST

Yes, but, as usual for the global corporation, they have their hands in other things as well.
The reason I spoke mainly of Pfizer was because they were covered in the newscast. Pfizer was using genetically engineered tomatoes to grow a type of enzyme or vaccine that has medicinal purposes. Their claim was that people could just eat Pfizer food like they do regularly and benefit from the "improved" ingredients.

--- Somewhere, just out of sight, the gnomes are gathering.
[ Parent ]
GE food. (4.00 / 6) (#3)
by tokage on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 02:58:10 AM EST

What you're seeing on TV is a direct result of a huge market push by a company called Monsanto, a subsidary of Pharmacia. http://www.monsanto.com
They launched a 250 million dollar campaign for "opinion shaping" in North America and Canada. http://www.purefood.org/ge/brainwashad.cfm

Genetically engineered food is a -HUGE- deal. Very few Americans have any opinion or facts about GE food, and the GE corporations strive to keep it so. This is something I feel pretty strongly about, and have debated submitting an article about for a while. Most of the foods we eat in stores and a lot in resturants contain GE products. This is a field which, because of its money making potential, has been quickly embraced by farmers. Genetically engineered products have not been adequately researched for safety. Genetically engineered foods aren't going to go away. What I and many others believe to be required is a labelling system for GE foods, which state something like "This product contains genetically altered products", and you decide if you want to buy it or not.

I can see some of the arguements on the other side, that GE products have benefits for various things(the engineered rice for people in africa with enriched vitamins, for example), but in general GE products are used simply because they're more cost effective to implement. Crops which are resistant to certain types of pesticides are one of the mainstays in the GE market. These crops, however, interact with the environment in unpredictable ways. Several cases of superweeds have resulted(weeds which are resistant to common pesticides).

This is an important issue with global ramifications. Any person who cares about their health or environment needs to be educated on GE products. I recommend starting at http://www.purefood.org/gelink.html to get an idea of some of the issues.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red

Re: GE food. (3.00 / 4) (#4)
by tokage on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 03:02:18 AM EST

Correction on some statistics:
WASHINGTON - Monsanto Co. and its biotechnology rivals began a $50 million
campaign Monday to sell Americans on the benefits of genetically modified

50 million dollar campaign

The council says it may spend as much as $250 million on the campaign over
the next five years toward shaping opinion in the United States and Canada.

sorry about that.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
[ Parent ]

GE labelling (2.00 / 2) (#16)
by Woodblock on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:45:06 PM EST

What I and many others believe to be required is a labelling system for GE foods, which state something like "This product contains genetically altered products", and you decide if you want to buy it or not. Why must companies be forced to label that they contain genetically engineered ingredients. I am sure enough people care enough about the ingredients that many companies would be happy to put a label stating "This product contains no genetically engineered ingredients" and use it as marketing. There's a sizaeble organically grown food market and I'm sure if producers advertized their genetically "pure" foods, a similar market would explode. In fact, many companies are doing this. I recall McCain announcing they will not buy any potatos for their products which are genetically engineered. Why restrict the freedom of some companies when a voluntary means of ingredient identification is possible.
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
[ Parent ]
labelling, etc (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by tokage on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:19:25 PM EST

There already is a sizable natural/organic food market. The problem is most people are unaware of how prevailant GE products are in ordinary foods and medicines. In America for the most part people have a vague notion of GE making our lives better by creating more efficient food markets and whatnot. They are not aware that GE modified foods are -not- tested individually by the FDA, it is left to the vendors to decide if their product is safe, when their overwhelming motivation is to make money. The organic/natural foods generally are labelled, that's not the problem. The problem is foods which contain GE are not labelled, so people are not aware the product they are buying contains GE products. This leads them to making an uninformed decision if they had a bias towards not buying foods with GE.
That's the reason I feel labelling food/medicine with GE should be mandatory. When the top scientists in the world, including premiere geneticists who pioneered the field such as David Suzuki http://www.purefood.org/corp/davidsuzuki.cfm speak out against GE and warn of its hazards, it's time to sit up and listen. When the OCA and Center for Food Safety warn against it, it's time to do some research and get involved. When your kid gets sick from eating unapproved, non regulated corn at Taco Bell, maybe you've been putting it off too long. http://www.purefood.org/ge/kraftonge.cfm
Does it not bother anyone that the FDA doesn't get involved in the food that you're eating? Isn't that their entire purpose, to regulate new sciences related to Food and Drug? Call me crazy, but putting your trust in a company's judgement which creates the product it tests for, and who's main goal(as all corporations are) is to make money are determining if the food you eat is healthy and safe..I might be crazy, but I don't trust them, and I want to know what's in the food I eat. I want the food I eat to be regulated and deemed safe.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
[ Parent ]

Government Coercion and Labelling. (2.00 / 4) (#19)
by Woodblock on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 12:56:09 PM EST

Ingorance is not an excuse for the use of force. Fundamentally, what you are advocating is taking a gun and pointing it at a person (or in this case, a group of people) and saying "Label". The use of government force can be justified for many things, but something as simple as labelling the genetic contents of ingredients is certainly extreme, and especially when the same effect can be reached by voluntary means. And why do you advocate this? Because you believe people aren' t intelligent enough to decide what burgers to eat.
If I thought that all genetic foods were harmful, which I don't, I would assume ALL foods that weren't labelled as organic/natural could possibly contain harmful genes, or investigate which products are likely to contain genetically modified ingredients. For example, I know that a large majority of all canola grown is genetically engineered. Knowing that, I would be sure to consume only those foods with conola which are labelled as free of foreign genes.
To claim that we must force companies to label foods because people just pick the first box of cereal off the shelves is silly.
Having said that, I agree that the FDA, or each countries respective food safety agency, should monitor these products and simply publish their findings, but the ultimate choice of what I put in my stomach should always be left up to me.
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
[ Parent ]
Canola (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by sec on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 01:32:16 AM EST

'Smatter of fact, all canola is genetically engineered. It started out as rapeseed, and it went through a program of selective breeding in which varieties which produced lower amounts of erucic acid were selected.

Personally, though, I'm not overly concerned by GMOs. I think a bigger problem is the irrational anti-GM attitudes pervasive in places like Europe. I must say, I always thought that the European common folk were more sensible than their North American counterparts, but the anti-GM hysteria disabused me of that notion.

IMHO, a bigger concern is the IP implications of GMOs.

[ Parent ]

.eu (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by tokage on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 05:58:10 AM EST

They've had reason to be concerned about GE foods. Like I've been posting about a bit, GE products haven't been adequately tested or researched. There exists a real possibility of serious problems with GE animals and crops interacting to bad ends with the environment. Imagine the crops of corn which producted the tainted taco shells that made people sick at taco bell escaping and mixing with the corn crops of the world, changing and mutating alnog the way. Britian's nightmare time of tracking down the animals with Bovine-CJD(mad cow) would be trivial when compared with the monumental task of weeding out contaminated crops. My take on it is, do we really need to meddle with our foods so badly? I can understand hardy crops being researched for places like Africa, the Saharan desert, hard baked dusty soil which rarely gets watered. I can understand wanting to produce foods which supply more vitamins than their natural counterparts. One of my beefs is related to the companies which produce crops to simply be resistant to pesticides. This is done to save money, pure and simple. I understand companies and farms wishing to save money, it's one of the tenets of corporations. Corporations such as Texaco which will destroy the environment in order to cut costs, then spend millions in litigation while the peoples whom environment has been destroyed continue to develop cancer with abnormal frequency, and all the other malaises that go along with it. see http://www.texacoamazon.com

Basically, I question the need for GE products, and feel their realized negative properties(food posioning, unknown effects when uncontrolled, superweeds/pests and whatnot) by far outweigh their benefits, for the most part. The unknown factor is big also, I believe a dangerous GE product loosed upon the ecosystem could produce a -huge- global problem. Anyway, I think a few reasons Europeans have what you consider an irrational dislike of GE products is the radical difference in our lifestyles. Ever hear about some product and just have a gut feeling that there's something wrong with it, no matter if you can prove it or not? Well, in this case it can be proven defenitively, yet continues to be produced without adequate safety precautions. Hypothetically, say some GE using corn farmer lets his crop get out of control, migrates into the corn which he uses to sell seed. The seeds are sold, planted, spread throughout the global marketplace. Say this corn contains a defect which causes death and illness. What right or reason do we have to expose the rest of the world to such potential ills? The reason is greed, pure and simple, the same reason we pollute and destroy our environment, in order to gain money, an invention of our own. That's the irony, we'll kill, steal, and destroy for some paper which we deem to have meaning.

sorry for the semi rant, 3am-coherency strikes.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
[ Parent ]

What if... (2.00 / 1) (#23)
by sec on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 06:29:51 PM EST

...the world was invaded by evil mutant Care Bears?

You can 'what if' until you're blue in the face, but you're not going to convince me of anything this way. Realistic assessment of the risks involved with genetically modified foods is welcome; buggy-eyed fearmongering is not.

And yes, the profiteering engaged in by some biotech companies is a problem -- in fact, it's my top concern about biotech. This problem is not unique to biotech, though -- we geeks should know that very well. :)

[ Parent ]

Except that these are self replicating organisms (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by maynard on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 10:26:32 PM EST

The reason people are so up in arms about GMOs and GE foods is because they are self replicating organisms. You have NO IDEA what that thing might do in the wild; what other organisms it might crowd out in the environment; how it might affect human digestion or long term biological affects.

Folks who are concerned about GMOs aren't just over-reacting IMO. As an American, I share the European's concern for the potential long term consequences of releasing these organisms out in the wild. "What if" is quite serious when we're talking systems that could replicate beyond out control.

This is the biological equivelent of the "grey goo" problem from the nanotech side. Quite serious; potentially quite deadly.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

EU protectionism (2.00 / 2) (#25)
by Woodblock on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 02:25:09 PM EST

I think a lot of the GM attitudes in Europe has to to with money. They want to protect their markets and throw up trade barriers. They claim GM corn, for example, is not the same as regular corn so that if they block it the WTO cannot impose sanctions on them. It's a tough argument, but I'm sure not all of the people-dressed-as-fish-tomato-protests are run completely by grassroots consumer groups. I think a large portion of the hysteria is stirred up by European special interests.
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
[ Parent ]
Selective Breeding != Genetic Engineering (3.66 / 3) (#31)
by maynard on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 10:39:01 PM EST

Let's be clear. At no time during the selective breeding process did one introduce a gene from a completely different organism, or create one from scratch. Big difference. --M

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]
labelling (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by tokage on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 05:38:03 AM EST

First I want to point out Ritz crackers/cheese snacks. On each package, it's labelled in small letters after the ingredients "This product is made on food proccessors which also make peanut products". This is what I'm advocating, not some huge health banner on the side which says "GE foods will kill you". As for deciding which foods do not contain GE products, how do you purpose to keep your knowledge current and accurate? By constantly reviewing every nutritional site on the web? Wouldn't it be much simpler if you were told in little letters under the ingredients that it contained GE products, and which ones if possible? Also, like sec said, canola is entirely genetically engineered. Selective breeding can have the same effects as outright genetic manipulation, take pedegree pure blooded dogs, for example. They're forced to breed within a certain gene pool, resulting in dogs who have strange genetic problems, less intelligence as would result from a more diverse breeding program.

As far as burgers go, that's a whole other debate. From the way the animals are treated, to the conditions they exist in, it makes me wish I would become vegan. Like Kurt Cobain said, 'yes I eat cow I am not proud'. Don't take me for a bleeding heart "save the environment, whales are more important than humans"(although that's up for debate, it's my opinion a large percentage of people are totally useless..not that there's really a purpose to exist, I guess). When you genetically manipulate -anything-, there are many factors which must be taken under consideration. The interaction of the plant/animal with the rest of the earth, what would happen if the GE stock was introduced uncontrolled into the environment, etc. It's my belief some GE products can be very useful, in specific instances, but they need to be more carefully evaluated and controlled. The way GE crops are released without much testing or forethought about their interactions with other crops and the environment is very reckless, and unecessary.

The statement about people picking the first box of cereal off the shelf..well, of course they don't. They choose whatever they like the best, or whatever their kids like, but how many people do you know who seriously put much thought into GE products, and their impact? As for consuming only canola(or GE food in general) free of foreign genes, how would you know which contains them if the products are not labelled? Excluding canola, which is all GE'd. Are you aware of the extent which GE products have permated our marketplaces, unbeknownst to the common American consumer? Almost all the milk you buy off the shelf contains Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone(rBGH). It's proven to be harmful to humans, yet it exists in our dairy supply because of a study which stated 100% of rBGH is destroyed with the way the milk is proccessed. This is incorrect, studies have been done where less than 15% of it is eradicated. http://www.purefood.org/rbghlink.html

Your final statement about the ultimate choice of what you consume being up to you is -exactly- the reason I advocate a labelling system. If you haven't, I recommend you perusing http://www.purefood.org, there is a lot of useful information on that site.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
[ Parent ]

Alas, more GE labelling... (2.66 / 3) (#24)
by Woodblock on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 02:20:04 PM EST

I don't plan on keeping current. I personally am not too concerned about GE foods. However, I don't think that putting a one-line label on a bag of rice is really educating myself either. There are different levels of genetic modification, from cross-breeding types of apples to engineering and entire flu DNA sequence from scratch. These all would fall under "this product contains genetically modified ingredients" label. (Ignoring the fact that there is probably a limited demand for Flu in a Bag. 8) )
I also reject the claim you make of little testing going into the genetically modified products. It's not like Billy-Bob with a chemistry kit can pump out SuperCanola (TM) and sell it to canola oil producers. Where I live, I often see rows upon rows of corn, and each row has a little stake and a sign with a number. I KNOW that these are probably either tests for fertilizer or genetically modified plants. They do test them.
Your claim that you should label products because people don't care what's in the food isn't much of an argument for your side. Perhaps, people don't investigate what's in their food because they are not concerned. You can't force someone to care just by sticking a label on the package. If people are really concerned about their food, they will visit purefood.org, or some other consumer awareness site and get the information themselves. I may even visit there soon, and hope to find bonafide scientific proof that some of these foods are harmful to me, not "what-ifs" and "we don't know" arguments.
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
[ Parent ]
Force???? (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by maynard on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 10:36:45 PM EST

Are nutrition labels "force" too? Are you kidding me? Man, that's a libertarian argument taken to the radical extreme. Thank you, but I'll keep the FDA, USDA, FSIS, and all the other government agencies designed to promote basic public safety. (Even the EPA!).

We have a philosophical disagreement here. This is exactly what I want my government doing. Chasing non-violent drug offenders? No, that's force. Financially supporting repressive foreign regiems? No, that's force. Confiscating property without pressing charges because of possible drug offenses? That's force. However, I think calling labels and inspectional services designed to protect the public and our food supply "rational", not "force".


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Force (1.33 / 3) (#36)
by Woodblock on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 03:08:47 PM EST

All I'm saying is that the government should not use force to do something as trivial as labelling GE foods when the option exists where no force would be needed and the same result would occur. Why draw a gun when it isn't completely justified.
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
[ Parent ]
Not really commercial-related (3.20 / 5) (#5)
by streetlawyer on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 03:05:26 AM EST

On the other hand, the BBC is publicly funded from a poll tax (the licence fee) and is every bit as irritatingly boosterish about genetic food (by the way, if cheaper grain could have cured the Third World's problems, the EU's Common Agricultural Policy would have done so years ago).

The reason the BBC does it is that they're scared of Blair, who is in turn scared of the corporations. I don't think, unfortunately, it makes sense to look at one small piece of the capitalist system and say "that! that's the problem!". The problem is the whole system. The other problem is that there's no better system. yet.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
Media bias is old news (2.50 / 2) (#7)
by gosh on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 08:35:23 AM EST

All media are biased by their advertisers. They have to be, they rely on them for the money to pay the bills.

As for GM (Genetically Modified) foods. In North America we are part of a vast study to determine the toxicisity of low-level poison consumption. You can do almost nothing to get out of the study. But rejoice! the governments are saying that there is no evidence that the stuff you are eating is toxic. But of course, the study won't be done for another 10 - 20 years.

At least in Europe people get upset about the garbage attempted to be sold there. There was a big stink about Canadian canola that had some small part of GM contamination.

To avoid these foods in North America, here is a small list of things to avoid; canola (vegtable oil), corn, tomatos, beef, porc, poultry. There's lots more, the problem is finding out about it.

We live in "Corporate America" (3.00 / 4) (#8)
by reshippie on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 09:00:44 AM EST

That means that they are attempting to become an integral part of what information we have, and what we can actually do, and unfortunately, it's working.

They have a tremendous amount of influence (read: control) over the US Government, which is why all of a sudden it is legal for drug companies to advertise on tv. Remember a few years ago, when there were no ads for drugs on tv? That wasn't cool for the drug companies, so they fixed it.

<rant> And what is the point of advertising something on tv that requires a doctor's prescription. I don't think anything that requires a professional's approval should be advetised.</rant>

So yeah, corporations control the media, and the government, and they won't stop there.

Vote Nader

Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)

A discussion I would like to see (4.50 / 4) (#9)
by retinaburn on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 10:10:06 AM EST

<rant> And what is the point of advertising something on tv that requires a doctor's prescription. I don't think anything that requires a professional's approval should be advetised.</rant>

I would personally like to see you or someone write a rant on this. This had never crossed my mind before (despite my mother being a pharmacist). The layperson goes to their doctor convinced they know what is wrong with them demanding a specific medicine (paid my the government here in Canada). The doctor may know that the medicine is either totally inappropriate or that another better drug could be used but if he/she does not give in to the patients (read: customers) demand chances are they will go to another doctor.

By not allowing the airing of commericals for perscription medicine you remove that from the laypeoples mind. But (always a but) we do have the right to hear and read about these perscription drugs. Just not Joe couch potatoe who is convinced that Viagra can cure his brain-tumor.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

[ Parent ]
someone did a rant on this a while back (2.00 / 1) (#28)
by enterfornone on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 10:08:31 PM EST

personally i think that is censorship (along with all the anti-tobacco advertising laws we have in oz)

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Demographics (2.66 / 3) (#10)
by SpaceManBob on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 03:18:49 PM EST

Watching commercials definately can tell you a lot about the demographic a particular program is tring to reach. In this case you were watching a news program. News programs tend to appeal more to older rather than younger people. And older people tend to be heavy consumers of medications. I suspect this had more to do with the large number of drug commersials, rather than a conserted attempt to coerse the general public into a blind acceptance of genetically engineered products.

Pacifica (2.00 / 3) (#11)
by kallisti on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 04:23:10 PM EST

Do you mean this Pacifica? All media (including this one, especially) should be questioned for bias. And money is not by any means the only way media can be biased.

Remember, everything everyone has ever told you they did so for their own reasons, this statement included. As Tool put it "All you read and wear or see and hear on TV is a product".

Re: Pacifica (2.00 / 2) (#12)
by TwistedGreen on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 05:36:06 PM EST

Yes, I do speak of that pacifica and, of course, I know that bias is a natural part of the media and cannot be avoided. One should know this and take what they see and hear at least with a grain of salt. The problem is, how can you make any decent decision or see a decent picture of what is going on when you only know one side to an issue? This is why I like a balanced media, where one has many different sources to choose from. Unfortunately, these are disappearing as mergers and sponsorships take place. Media is a business and this cannot be avoided, but they're all gradually becoming identical. Media outlets like Pacifica's WBAI are strongly biased, but they are an alternative view needed to complement the other mainstream media outlets. My major point was that sponsors affect the media and its bias, which is then only serving as a propaganda outlet for the corporation behind the station.

--- Somewhere, just out of sight, the gnomes are gathering.
[ Parent ]
Re: Pacifica (3.00 / 2) (#14)
by kallisti on Fri Oct 13, 2000 at 12:40:25 PM EST

Your original write-up seemed to say "big media bad", "Pacifica good" which is what I took exception with. Your comment there is something I agree with totally, which is why I never rely on only one source of information. Pacifica is also under much suspicion here in the Bay Area what with sending armed guards to enforce the shutdown of KPFA, and I wanted to balance things out.

I recall Jello Biafra talking about a book on Media Monopoly (sorry, don't remember the exact title or author), in which the author found that most media was owned by 7 people. This before CBS-Viacom, ABC-Disney, MSNBC, and Time-Warner-Turner-AOL-God-only-knows.

[ Parent ]

hmmmm (3.60 / 5) (#15)
by no carrier on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 12:44:49 AM EST

let's think about this. news has become entertainment, just like all the other content on network television. the entertainment industry (especially network television) is there to make money. they make money by selling advertisements targeted at the eyeballs they attract. if they offend the people who have the money to advertise they will not make money. solution = do not offend people with money. simple really.

so the solution from the consumer end would be to NOT trust biased news sources. i personally don't trust anything i haven't seen for myself, and even then it's questionable (see http://users.milliways.mg-net.de/BSAFH/guide/hg-2-29.html)

congrats twistedgreen, you've come to the realization that mass media and earth in general are controlled by mickey mouse(michael eisner), homer simpson(rupert murdoch), the sony playstation(Norio Ohga) and drugs, lots and lots of drugs. notice that most of the corportations out there don't produce products that we actually need, but they are masters of making us want whatever they have. how can you live without a playstation2? gotta have the new super fast premium quality computer or i'm gonna die.

unfortunately we live in a world where readers of kuro5hin are in the minority to people who watch/appear on jerry springer. and i don't mean to get all rightous and say people who read kuro5hin are smarter than people who watch/appear on jerry springer, i just use that as an analogy for "people who are literate usually make better, more informed decisions about the world around them and understand that by accepting the convenience of modern society they are giving up most of their personal freedom and ability to do as they please" cause that would be long and dull and make me sound like some nut from montana.

i could rant on for days, but i suppose i better stop now before i get myself in trouble.

I stab people.
At the risk of sounding "holier than thou&quo (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by Chakotay on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 10:41:26 AM EST

Ahhh, the joys of a good public broadcasting system! Here in the good old Netherlands there are three public TV channels, shared by a dozen or so broadcasting organisations. Yes, broadcasting organisations. One of them is the NOS (Nederlandse Omroepstichting, Dutch Broadcasting Organisation), which only brings news, sports, weather forecasts and current events. They've provided the most unbiased news service that I know of ever since TV was invented. The BBC does a very good job too, btw. Anyway, NOS brings the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news - objective, and not looking for sensation. They don't need to draw eyeballs, because they're a government founded organisation.

The contrast becomes especially evident when you watch the news on the Dutch commercial channels. The news on RTL4 and RTL5 is still rather good, but the SBS6 news makes me want to puke every time I watch it. All they seem to be after is sensation, scandal and gossip, trying to draw as many eyeballs as possible. No thank you, I'll watch the NOS news, the RTL news if necessary, and sometimes the BBC news or the Tagesschau (the news on the German public broadcasting system) for a cross-reference. A few days ago I caught the BBC 6 o'clock news, which had the best treatise on the situation in Israel that I had seen anywhere else: a simple, cool, almost unbiased (the west is almost naturally biased towards Israel) analysis of the situation not only in Israel, but also in the surrounding countries.

Ultimately, news should be totally unfunded to make sure it's not influenced by anybody, but news funded by corporate money is, imho, far worse than news funded by the government - unless that government is some sort of dictatorship, ofcourse :)

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

Like in the totalitarian state or Britain (none / 0) (#26)
by SIGFPE on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 06:05:44 PM EST

Ahhh, the joys of a good public broadcasting system!
Read this and tell me public broadcasting is a joy. I couldn't believe what I was reading. A British government body revelling in it's privacy invasion.

For those in parts of the world who don't know: in the UK the government funds people who go around detecting radio emissions from what look like televisions so as to extort 'license' money from them to pay for TV programming that people wouldn't otherwise pay for. You have to pay this BBC 'license' whether or not you watch the BBC.
[ Parent ]
I'd like to follow up that post with... (none / 0) (#27)
by SIGFPE on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 06:12:34 PM EST

this. Pretty evil eh? I guess that's what comes of having a country with no (written) constitution.
[ Parent ]
And yet another clue (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by Chakotay on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 05:50:14 AM EST

As I explained in my previous post, watching TV without a licence is kind of the same as tax evasion. You're freeloading, basically stealing from everybody who does pay.

Don't car dealers have the obligation to notify the DMV of car sales so the DMV knows where to get their taxes from? Same thing. For a TV dealer it's been made illegal to sell a TV without notifying the BBC. Nothing wrong with that, really.

What you don't seem to realise is that not having a TV licence is similar to stealing electricity, tapping a phone line or "stealing" cable. Basically, what you disagree with is the licensing system employed in the UK, and from that you get the notion that things used to enforce that system are barbaric. Why don't you just say you don't agree with that system and be done with it? I mean, assuming the system isn't Evil (which it isn't), neither are the measures to enforce it.

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

[ Parent ]

I beg to differ (none / 0) (#34)
by SIGFPE on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 10:52:43 AM EST

What you don't seem to realise is that not having a TV licence is similar to stealing electricity
There is no similarity whatsoever. If I consume electricity there is less electricity for other people. If I buy a bunch of components from Radio Shack and privately assemble them in my own home in a certain way that has no impact whatsoever on other people I can expect a 1000 pound fine. What's more, the people who have the right to force me not to assemble my own components in my own way aren't providing a life saving service or anything important. They make entertainment. Things like sitcoms. Maybe things are different in the Netherlands but in the UK the BBC get to extort money from you even if you never watch a BBC programme. This has nothing to do with freeloading or intellectual property rights. It's about a state deciding that the British population are incapable of determining what they should watch and having an 'elite' make that decision for them.
[ Parent ]
Nobody says you can't build your own TV (none / 0) (#35)
by Chakotay on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 11:10:28 AM EST

As long as you register it after it's been built.

And again, it is more the system that you've got a problem with than the way in which it's being enforced. As I said, here in the Netherlands too everybody who has a TV or radio pays a standard fee which goes to the public broadcasting system. When you're freeloading, you deny them their money - you want to watch TV, but not pay for it. There's something inherently wrong in that...

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

[ Parent ]

I'd agree but... (none / 0) (#37)
by SIGFPE on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 06:30:53 PM EST

you want to watch TV, but not pay for it.

The problem for me is that if I want to watch ITV I must pay the BBC in addition to watching advertising on ITV. In fact nowadays cable is increasingly popular and the BBC is only a small part of TV that is watched. It seems very wrong to have to pay for cable, and watch advertising and pay a license to watch channels other than the BBC. I have no fundamental objection to paying for BBC programming (after all it's good). It is morally wrong to have BBC watchers freeload on ITV and cable watchers who are forced to pay a fee.
[ Parent ]
Almost but not quite (none / 0) (#38)
by Chakotay on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 06:37:37 PM EST

See, public television is a public service, which is also being payed for by the public. You pay taxes that are used for building roads you'll never drive on, for building hospitals, schools and what not you'll never go to, you pay taxes that fund operas and musea that you'll likely never go to. Then what makes this particular "tax" so wrong?

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

[ Parent ]
One thing different about this tax... (none / 0) (#39)
by SIGFPE on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 09:26:21 PM EST

...is that unlike the other taxes that you mention it's a tax on something you do in private,on your own, in your own home with your own property. And unlike with museums (though I like your creative misspelling!) and roads there isn't an army of people equipped with surveillance tools like something out of a movie like Enemy of the State designed to hunt down offenders behind their own walls. And when was the last time you saw a museum web site where the authors gloat like those of the UK licensing authority website do. For example the Science Museum in London doesn't have a website proudly declaring "We found a young kid running round the museum today. We asked him for his ticket but he gave the feeble excuse that his mother had it and was somewhere else. So we threw him out. Ha Ha!

I think the BBC makes the best programmes in the English speaking world (or maybe I just swallowed the propaganda that the BBC tell us about how good they are - the Americans certainly don't seem too impressed by the BBC to judge by ratings in the US) but I still don't think that it is worth the price of having people armed with surveillance equipment running around the streets.
[ Parent ]
I guess I do partly agree with you :) (none / 0) (#40)
by Chakotay on Mon Oct 23, 2000 at 05:19:24 AM EST

Yeah, I guess they have gone a bit too far, but on the other hand, the government is just as agressive, if not more agressive, in catching people who don't pay taxes on their car.

As for misspelling museums - oops. In Dutch, my native language, the plural of museum is musea, just like the plural of datum (date) is data, the plural of gymnasium (grammar school) is gymnasia, and so on :)

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

[ Parent ]

nit picker (none / 0) (#43)
by fantastic-cat on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 06:27:48 AM EST

the Science Museum is free for children.

[ Parent ]
taxes (none / 0) (#42)
by fantastic-cat on Wed Oct 25, 2000 at 06:23:56 AM EST

If the licence fee was lumped in with the rest of the taxes would that make the whole situation more palatable to you? Or would you prefer people to pay taxes only for those public services they use. "I take all my own rubbish to the tip therefore I shouldn't pay the portion of my taxes which go to pay the refuse collectors" this argument is clearly flawed I rarely watch TV (although when I do I have to say that the BBC chanels are usually better than the rest by quite a long way, excepting perhaps chanel 4) If we didn't have some kind of TV regulation all our TV would cater for ITV type audience ie the biggest audience = largest profit. Having and impartial non profit broadcasting organisation is up there with the NHS as things we have to be greatful for in th UK.

[ Parent ]
Here's a clue. (none / 0) (#32)
by Chakotay on Fri Oct 20, 2000 at 05:42:07 AM EST

Yes, you need a licence to watch TV and listen to the radio, and you pay for that. That's what the public broadcasting system is payed from. Everybody who has a TV or radio pays for it. A freeloader who does have a TV but doesn't have a licence is basically stealing from everybody who does pay his licence fees.

You pay for the BBC because the BBC is the public broadcasting system. What part of public is so hard to understand? Here in the Netherlands there are a lot of broadcasting organisations, so the licence fees aren't collected by one of those broadcasting organisations, but by the government, which in turn spreads it around among the broadcasting organisations. Public TV is public, you pay for it even if you never watch it. Don't you also pay to have a live phone line to your home, even if you don't use the phone? Don't you pay taxes on your car even if you don't use it? Same with the public broadcasting system. You pay for the availability, not for watching.a

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

[ Parent ]

Taxes (none / 0) (#41)
by chroma on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 12:43:22 PM EST

>Don't you also pay to have a live phone line to your
>home, even if you don't use the phone? Don't you
>pay >taxes on your car even if you don't use it?

Not in the US.

[ Parent ]
Biotech Bias and the Mainstream Media | 43 comments (41 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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