The role of media in shaping public opinion is well known by business, the corporate elite and the politicians that utilise it to service their interest. In the last thirty years or more, legislation originally designed to protect the broadest range of views expressed in the media has slowly being eroded.
In April 2007 these laws were further eroded, when new rules governing cross-media ownership were passed into law. The major aspects of the new rules are a relaxation of restrictions on cross-media ownership. This means that corporations such as NewsCorp can now extend their influence from print media, to Free-To-Air Television, Radio and online content.
Such influence over print media is already a staggering percentage of the market share. NewsCorp has, depending on the capital city, ranging from 68% market share on weekdays and closer to 78% over weekends. The recent developments in the U.K have only confirmed what the people already knew; that NewsCorp, lead by Rupert Murdoch, is an unethical organisation that needs to be broken up and its interests should be handed back to the people.
With the advent of technology and the coming of the internet age, imperialism and the local capitalists have had to grapple with ways to control the free communication and expression of the people. However, as always corporations have demonstrated their ability to adapt and use a variety of means to control this technology. Control of knowledge and information and the implementation of various overt and covert forms of censorship abound.
This has included the following:
•Legislation - a recent example is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISP) currently being debated in the U.S.
•Using social media to distribute misinformation
•Redesigning social media websites, to make it more difficult to be used by progressive individuals and groups. Youtube is a recent example
•Developing technology to help track individuals. Google over the last 5 years has spent a significant amount of time developing methodologies to correlate information
•Persecution of those who are seen to be subverting the imperialist and capitalist cause, e.g., Wikileaks and Julian Assange
Unfortunately, Australian politicians have shown their subservience to multi-national corporations. This was clearly demonstrated when government allowed a multi-national company such as Google to come into the sovereign territory of Australia to collate information on Australian citizens. Google was allowed to operate “street view” in this country and it has now been disclosed that not only was Google taking photographs, but also collecting personal information from peoples Wi-Fi connections as the Google car drove past private homes.
All forms of expression have been targeted including even more traditional forms of public expression such as billboards, graffiti and placing notices in public areas. Governments are now documenting this sort of expression so that when individuals or organisations are identified, they can be prosecuted.
The need is for the CPA (M-L) to respond and to grapple with ways to put forward our program, but at the same time, protection of our supporters and members has never been more important. Wherever possible, we must ensure that we use our own means and resources including our members to distribute our program and policies.
As the crisis of capitalism intensifies and inter-imperialist rivalry becomes more acute, imperialism will become more aggressive in striking those it deems a threat to its interest. We need to be ready and be prepared for those times. Not only should we be using new technology, but traditional means to distribute our message. By working in this way we will build our connections with the people and thereby developing our mass base.