Open MIC is unique among non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in that it seeks to use private sector and capital market mechanisms to influence corporate media management policies. By empowering shareholder activists, and providing media management with positive and negative feedback on both short-term and long-term business practices, Open MIC seeks to help shape the emerging “eco-system” of global media.
Open MIC operates at the intersection of several very powerful trends.
The first is the surging global growth and popularity of media, fueled by multiple advances in digital technology. As the Economist magazine has put it: “Society is in the early phases of what appears to be a media revolution on the scale of that launched by Guttenberg in 1448.”
At the same time, investors and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding more information and accountability from media enterprises on a broad range of issues. Many of the issues are familiar. Do media companies protect the public interest by providing content that fully informs the public? Do they reflect the diversity of the communities they serve? Do they recognize the special needs of children? Are they too big? A recent poll of U.S. adults, for example, found that more than 69% believe media companies are “becoming too large and powerful to allow for competition.” (Zogby, January 2007.)
And as digital technology expands the definition of media, new issues arise. The list expands to include questions of even greater media consolidation; broadband internet access and “net neutrality”; copyright and trademark; database protection; privacy and internet security, among others.
In that context, Open MIC’s mission is to:
- foster an appreciation of the potential for democratic media among investors and corporations;
- promote strategies, policies and practices that capitalize on the democratic and commercial opportunities afforded by digital media;
- identify anti-competitive strategies, policies and practices that thwart the democratizing potential of the digital era;
- provide the public marketplace with actionable data and information regarding corporate media policies.
Open MIC’s initial goals include the development of a reporting framework for media companies.
A key element of Open MIC’s working plan is the establishment of working groups and advisory panels composed of multiple stakeholders, including industry executives and financial analysts. The model is similar to one that has been successfully employed in the environmental arena by CERES (www.ceres.org), which has built an influential and effective coalition of varied stakeholders while working with corporations to mitigate climate risk.