Tomorrow Lives

December 5th, 2006

If you haven't seen the James Bond movie from 1997 called Tomorrow Never Dies, you should. One because it's a cool movie with an interesting plot and a competent execution of that plot, two because the soundtrack by David Arnold is a work of art. Definitely one of the better Bond movies to be made in the period since Brosnan made the role his.

But back to that plot. The villain is Elliot Carver, a media mogul with evil plans to manipulate his global media empire for his selfish goals of economic success. Think about that idea for a minute. Does that sound far fetched? It doesn't really, does it? Lawrence Lessig writes in his book Free Culture:

Five companies control 85 percent of our media sources. The five recording labels of Universal Music Group, BMG, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and EMI control 84.8 percent of the U. S. music market. The five largest cable companies pipe programming to 74 percent of the cable subscribers nationwide.

So it's not one Carver empire, it's five different corporations in competition with each other.

Another thing that has changed is that up until 2003 the media could not own the content they published, because the law forbade it. Now they do own it, so you can get a full, integrated package from a single outlet.

Murdoch's companies now constitute a production system unmatched in its integration. They supply content - Fox movies, Fox TV shows, Fox-controlled sports broadcasts, plus newspapers and books. They sell the content to the public and to advertisers - in newspapers, on the broadcast network, on the cable channels. And they operate the physical distribution system through which the content reaches the customers. Murdoch's satellite systems now distribute News Corp. content in Europe and Asia; if Murdoch becomes DirecTV's largest single owner, that system will serve the same function in the United States.

It's funny when you realize that what you saw in a fiction movie is the actual reality. Is Rupert Murdoch today's Elliot Carver?

murdoch_carver.jpg
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4 Responses to "Tomorrow Lives"

  1. erik says:

    Well there are still quote some barriers left but it's not unthinkable Murdoch would head in that direction.

  2. ash says:

    I remember when the movie first came out it seemed to everyone as though Carver was based, at least in part, on Murdoch. Can't say I agree with you about the merits of the movie though.

  3. I love Elliot Carver! He is just such an excellent character! The RIAA and MPAA is the closest thing you will get to a media monopoly, I think.

  4. ...when I come to think of it: Apple Computer is the closest thing.