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<nettime> Mega-Mega-Merger: Meet the New Media Monopoly (fwd)
Alan Sondheim on Wed, 26 Jan 2011 10:54:45 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Mega-Mega-Merger: Meet the New Media Monopoly (fwd)

I've always felt the horror in this country stems from media deregulation - which continues apace... Thanks to Reagan we now have ghouls like Limbaugh Palin Beck calling the national shots. - Alan

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2011 20:43:02
From: Portside Moderator <moderator {AT} PORTSIDE.ORG>
Subject: Mega-Mega-Merger: Meet the New Media Monopoly

Mega-Mega-Merger: Meet the New Media Monopoly

With Comcast's takeover of NBC, the era of the mega-mega-merger is upon us.

By Dave Saldana
January 24, 2011


For more than a century, American law has recognized the
destructive power of corporate monopolies. When one company
controls an entire resource, means of production, or delivery
system for products, it gets an unfair advantage over
competitors. It can overcharge them out of existence or drive
them into bankruptcy. Since Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, our
government has tried to ensure that monopolistic business
practices don???t destroy fair pricing and consumer choice.

Then how can it justify the merger of Comcast and NBC
Universal, which the Federal Communications Commission
approved on January 18? The FCC is supposed to reject any
media merger that doesn???t advance the public interest. But
Comcast???s takeover of NBC will give one mega-corporation
control of too much of what we watch and how we watch it.

The deal creates not just a new media behemoth with the
ability to throttle competition and stifle innovation, but a
completely new model for media organizations and how they
operate. Where Comcast and NBC go today, AT&T, Verizon,
Disney, Time Warner, and Viacom are soon to follow. The era
of the mega-mega-merger is upon us.

Comcast is already the country???s largest cable and home
broadband provider. The new Comcast will own production,
content, and distribution for local television stations,
national networks broadcasting in English and Spanish, and
numerous cable channels and movie studios. One company will
soon account for 20 percent of all network and cable TV
viewing hours.

That should worry you.

Why? Because when one company, motivated solely by profit,
can choose what news to cover and how to cover it, you may
not be getting the full story. When it can exclude competing
ideas or perspectives, whether for political or economic
reasons, you may be denied a full hearing on the issues. And
that???s bad for democracy.

Want to see what this looks like in action? Search MSNBC???s
website for its coverage of the controversy surrounding the
merger. If you look very closely, you might find a short
blurb from Fort Wayne, Indiana, that mentions consumer
concerns in passing. NBC Nightly News reported the deal, but
anchor Brian Williams failed to mention the intense
opposition to the merger or the serious concerns about it.

If a media company can keep opposing views off your TV and
computer screens, you???ll never know any different.

Comcast has a history of using its control over cable and the
Internet to bottleneck information and cripple competitors.
The company has already been caught blocking the legal file
sharing of such things as barbershop quartet music and the
King James Bible. More recently, it???s been accused of
deliberately congesting its broadband network to slow down
content delivery and of raising fees for such competitors as
Netflix who deliver online video to their customers. Now,
with a slew of popular NBC programs in its hands and the
accompanying leverage, what???s to stop Comcast from doing even

The FCC and the Justice Department imposed temporary
conditions to make the merger more palatable, but there???s not
enough sugar to sweeten this rotten deal. And the conditions,
inadequate to begin with, are only as strong as the FCC???s
willingness to enforce them. The agency???s hands-off approach
to the biggest media merger in recent memory isn???t a good
sign. There are plenty of laws against one thing or another,
but without a cop on the beat, what good are they?

Monopolies are dangerous. We can expect corporations to be
concerned only with padding their bottom line, regardless of
the public good. But when regulators like the FCC become more
concerned with pleasing corporations than protecting the
public, we???re all in big trouble. This work is licensed under
a Creative Commons License

[Dave Saldana is an attorney and journalist in Washington,
D.C., where he serves as communications director for Free
Press, a media advocacy group. www.freepress.net]


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