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Diller: More television regulation, not less

Media mogul Barry Diller warned that the concentrated ownership of entertainment companies is now too great and voiced opposition to FCC efforts to relax rules governing the national television audience cap of 35 percent.

“We need more regulation, not less,” Barry Diller, chairman of USA Interactive, said in a speech at NAB2003.

“We need more regulation, not less,” Diller said in a speech at NAB2003.

Diller, chairman of USA Interactive, also said he supports a reimposition of federal rules that restrict the major networks and cable operators from owning one hundred percent of the content they show. Diller, as chief of the Fox Network, helped repeal the broadcast rules that allowed such owership in the early 1990s.

“The conventional wisdom throughout the whole media industry today is that consolidation is the only economic model and that government regulation must lead or quickly follow so these giant businesses can freely function,” Diller said.

At first, he said, deregulation resulted in an explosion of new media businesses. It has since progressed through a round of “big-fish-eat-little-fish“ into the current world of highly concentrated media ownership. This concentration, said Diller, has further removed broadcasters from their original mandate of public service.

“The big, bad truth is that the four networks have reconstituted themselves into the oligopoly the FCC originally set out to curb back in the 1960s,” Diller said. “They're now on the verge of controlling the same number of households the big three did 40 years ago.”

This time, however, Diller said the networks don’t have the same sense of a public service obligation. “No one is complaining loudly about anything,“ he said. “The circle of control is too small.”

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