Tin Giant

Let Belo buy every station in the country--makes my job easier

I agree with this. Then why do I want Belo to get bigger? Because he's wrong if he thinks that getting bigger will make the company better at providing local news. And that means Belo will be weaker and allow other stations and publications to horn in on its racket.

The larger a media company becomes, the more ineffective it will become. Mark Cuban, who understands competing against larger media properties (besides his Internet broadcasting experience, he owns HDnet, the high-definition television network), agrees. "Change is opportunity [for smaller companies]," he says. "The bigger companies get, the harder, not easier, it is for them to compete."

True. Back to radio, Clear Channel is an excellent example of this. Look at what has happened to Kidd Kraddick's top-rated morning show since it was syndicated. The show became less interesting in an effort to placate people in more cities, and he has to work to get listeners back. Other stations Clear Channel took over here have cratered in the ratings as well.

That's not because the people at these companies suddenly turn into morons. Belo is full of smart people who try to put out good news products. But when you acquire more things, more bosses arrive, and decisions are made by more bean counters. It's then easier for more diverse opinions--bloggers, Web sites, the BBC, alternative weeklies, alternatives to alternative weeklies, hell, The Daily Show--to fill that void, and good people at the big evil companies wonder years later where it all went wrong.

Call me naïve, but I have this probably misplaced and decidedly romantic faith that the media marketplace, in this digital age, is a far better self-corrector than government regulation. Although people are slow, they are not forever dumb. Every generation becomes more media-savvy, more able to find in-depth news or biting commentary wherever it is. And they know that usually ain't on the local news.

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