For many years the highly respected source of information about newspaper monopoly has been The First Freedom (1946) by lawyer-author Morris L. Ernst, who asked Bryce Rucker to update that book. However, communications media have changed so drastically and alarmingly that an entirely new volume, with the same title but covering a broader scope of communications, has been the result.
Mr. Rucker provides a brief historical base for each medium and service discussed. He examines chain and monopoly control of the print and broadcast media, the monopoly influence exerted by news services and feature syndicates, the problems that plague broadcasting: the rating services, payola and plugola, the sorry condition of UHF television and FM radio, the stranglehold over TV maintained by the networks, domination by advertising, community antenna television (CATV), subscription television (STV), and noncommercial television. Thirty-five tables in this volume illustrate the trends in mass communication ownership.
The First Freedom treats matters that are currently under investigation. The author, who has testified before the FCC and a U.S. Senate committee, has made full use of Congressional records and reports as well as trade reports of the various media. Although a rather grim picture of the use of legal and illegal means to extend control over mass communication emerges from this volume, the author offers practical suggestions for restoring to the first freedom its original, Constitutional force.