Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 66, Issue 2–3, pp 253–260 | Cite as

Infotainment and the Moral Obligations of the Multimedia Conglomerate

  • Mary Lyn StollEmail author


When the Federal Communications Commission considered revamping its policies, many political activists argued that media conglomerates had failed to meet their duties to protect freedom of speech. Moveon’s dispute with CBS over its proposed Superbowl advertisement and Michael Moore’s quarrel over distribution of his documentary, Fahrenheit 911, are cases in point. In matters of pure entertainment, the public expect companies to avoid offensive programming. The press, on the other hand, may well be forced to offend some audience members in order to create a viable forum for political dissent. As journalism and entertainment are increasingly inter-linked, an in depth moral analysis of the media corporation and its obligations becomes increasingly important. I explore Kantian, Utilitarian, and Rawlsian analyses of corporate obligation in the aforementioned cases. I then examine whether or not these results suggest anything more generally about the sorts of mission statements and ethical policies that ought to be endorsed by media conglomerates and whether non-business institutions also require changes. Ultimately, I suggest that at a minimum, media institutions should view the duty to promote the representation of diverse views in a democracy as an imperfect moral and civic duty rather than making programming decisions solely by reference to profit. Ideally, greater access to media access should not be increased for the most powerful unless doing so at the same time increases free speech opportunities for those who currently have the least access.


corporate speech free speech infotainment media ethics multimedia conglomerates 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy & Political ScienceUniversity of Southern IndianaEvansvilleU.S.A.

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