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News from Tower Systems about locally made POS software for specialty local retailers.

Ted Turner and the fight for independents


This is a fight about freedom–the freedom of independent entrepreneurs to start and run a media business, and the freedom of citizens to get news, information, and entertainment from a wide variety of sources, at least some of which are truly independent and not run by people facing the pressure of quarterly earnings reports. No one should underestimate the danger. Big media companies want to eliminate all ownership limits. With the removal of these limits, immense media power will pass into the hands of a very few corporations and individuals.

So says Ted Turner, founder of CNN, in an article published in Washington Monthly July/August 2004.

While this is an article about the news business, it’s equally applicable to any business in this global economy. His mantra is that we need independent businesses, small businesses as they are the true innovators and risk takers. I agree. Talk a walk through any shopping mall and you see choice disappearing off shelves and racks. Consumers are not in control in such places. Turner wants government to do more for small business.

The role of the government ought to be like the role of a referee in boxing, keeping the big guys from killing the little guys. If the little guy gets knocked down, the referee should send the big guy to his corner, count the little guy out, and then help him back up.

Consolidation in business channels makes commercial sense. You spread costs more widely, knock out smaller competitors and rake in more ‘cream’ business. It’s the social and societal costs of consolidation which hurt. Losing the niche choices so many small businesses support. Families losing their income. Small towns losing their unique attraction. Consumers losing choice. Ted Turner’s comments are a good read for anyone in business.

Our challenge in small and independent businesses is to move beyond espousing these views and act in a way which strengthens the place of small business in the world. This starts with our own decisions and our own support for small business.

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By Mark