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Taking Media Mergers to the Next Level

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  • Comcast/NBC would be unprecedented powerhouse
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  • If the FCC allows the merger to take place, the company will control nearly a quarter of cable subscribers in the country and 12 percent of all television content
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  • Opponents of Comcast-NBC Merger Speak Out in Congress
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  • Too Big to Block? Why Obama Must Stop the Comcast-NBC Merger
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Krystle Manintveld, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

Over the last decade, dozens of media mergers and purchases have resulted in a media industry controlled by a handful of companies—and the cable giant Comcast wants to be one of them.

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After a failed attempt to purchase Disney in 2004 for $66 billion (Inter Press Service, 3/20/04), Comcast offered to take over NBC Universal for the bargain price of $30 billion—which would buy a 51 percent controlling interest from General Electric, with the expectation of acquiring the remaining stake over the next seven years (Globe and Mail, 12/3/09).

While Comcast has so far been mainly a cable and Internet provider, with limited involvement in programming, the purchase of NBC Universal would make it a major media conglomerate. In addition to the NBC broadcast TV network, Comcast would get MSNBC, CNBC, Universal Studios, 26 local television stations and several other small holdings. NBC also holds a 30 percent stake in the online TV website Hulu, a point of much discussion in the coverage (New York Times, 11/9/09)<http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/intense-review-is-expected-for-nb.... If the FCC allows the merger to take place, the company will control nearly a quarter of cable subscribers in the country and 12 percent of all television content (New York Observer, 2/9/10).

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Opponents of Comcast-NBC Merger Speak Out in Congress, Jenn Ettinger, Free Press
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) submitted a letter to the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday calling on the agency to deny approval for the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal based on a failure to meet public interest requirements, the likely harm to competition, and the anticipated rise in cable rates.

Too Big to Block? Why Obama Must Stop the Comcast-NBC Merger, Josh Silver, Huffington Post

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  • This train wreck of a deal will hurt all over
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  • Currently free online NBC content (will be) locked behind a pay wall
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  • Less opportunity for the distribution of independent media; even fewer choices and less programming diversity
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The Media Hit Job on Helen Thomas

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  • Media hit job of 2010: The vitriolic treatment of White House correspondent Helen Thomas
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  • She may be a critic of Israel but never a hater of Jews, a distinction the world recognizes, but that right-wing backers of the Israel lobby refuse to accept.
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Danny Schechter, The Rag Blog

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Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Image from Mediate.com.

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In 1960, I co-founded a student magazine at Cornell University called Dialogue. I was a wannabe journalist, fixated on emulating the courageous media personalities of the times from Edward R. Murrow to a distinctive figure I came to admire at Presidential press conferences, a wire service reporter named Helen Thomas.

In recent years, my faith in the power of dialogue in politics has been severely tested -- as, no doubt has hers -- in an age where diatribes and calculated demonization chill debate and exchanges of opposing views.

Once you are labeled and stereotyped, especially if you are denounced as an anti-Semite, you are relegated to the fringes, pronounced a hater beyond redemption, even beyond explanation.

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Mike Ferner: People's Media at Work in Afghanistan

Most Afghans were glad at first when coalition forces toppled the Taliban, but, after 9 years of war and occupation, it's time for the U.S. and NATO to leave.

Grant Lawrence, Before It's News

Image by @mjb via Flickr

The five boys I met in Kabul, Afghanistan, from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers were young - the oldest only 20 - and as charming and well-mannered as teenage boys can humanly be. Their mentor, Hakim, displayed patience and tireless compassion.

I found it easy to settle into a comfortable relationship with them for 10 days, but during the event described below, it became clear that these young men were a courageous lot, going against many cultural norms in Afghanistan and doing so publicly. People in places like today's Afghanistan have been "disappeared" for less.

As I began to realize how dangerous the Peace Volunteers' work could be, the global call-in project dubbed "Dear Afghanistan," became much more than a chance for callers to meet a handful of charming, brave boys. It was the beginning of an international support committee that at some moment may need to quickly mobilize to demand governments intervene to protect these young men's lives. Indeed, after a few years of quiet work in their province and the relatively high-profile Dear Afghanistan calling project, Afghan security forces visited Hakim's village for a third time, leaving the distinct impression he is no longer welcome. Just before he and the AYPV were to make the 11-hour drive through the mountains to Bamyan, he booked a flight to another country.

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The Merger of Journalists and Government Officials

"What an astounding feat to train a nation's journalist class to despise above all else those who shine a light on what the most powerful factions do in the dark and who expose their corruption and deceit, and to have journalists - of all people - lead the way in calling for the head of anyone who exposes the secrets of the powerful."

Glenn Greenwald, Salon/Reader Supported News
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The video of the CNN debate I did last night (Dec 27) about WikiLeaks with former Bush Homeland Security Adviser (and CNN contributor) Fran Townsend and CNN anchor Jessica Yellin is posted below. The way it proceeded was quite instructive to me and I want to make four observations about the discussion:

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(1) Over the last month, I've done many television and radio segments about WikiLeaks and what always strikes me is how indistinguishable -- identical -- are the political figures and the journalists.  There's just no difference in how they think, what their values and priorities are, how completely they've ingested and how eagerly they recite the same anti-WikiLeaks, "Assange = Saddam" script.  So absolute is the WikiLeaks-is-Evil bipartisan orthodoxy among the Beltway political and media class (forever cemented by the joint Biden/McConnell decree that Assange is a "high-tech Terrorist,") that you're viewed as being from another planet if you don't spout it.  It's the equivalent of questioning Saddam's WMD stockpile in early 2003.

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Why the FCC can’t protect net neutrality

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  • The FCC is incapable of securing the openness of the Internet because such openness is incompatible with a system based on private ownership and the attack on democratic rights necessitated by a massive increase in social inequality. The real defense of net neutrality can only be conducted as part of a struggle for socialism.
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  • Special Report | Fake Net Neutrality
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Mike Ingram, World Socialist Web Site

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor John Stoltenberg

If you liked reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted December 22 by a three to two majority to adopt new rules supposedly aimed at guaranteeing the future of the open Internet. The victory of the three Democratic commissioners over the two Republicans on the commission was tempered by the differences expressed by two of those voting for the proposals.

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Michael J Copps, an outspoken critic of aspects of the proposals such as exempting wireless providers from new rules and an advocate of reclassification of broadband companies as “Title II communications companies” to give the Commission more powers, voted for the proposals. Copps said that “On numerous fronts in the Open Internet Order before us today, the Commission is taking strides forward. On others, I pray that our timidity will not undermine the spirit of the Order that we are adopting.”

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Special Report | Fake Net Neutrality, David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest
"The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter's night for Internet freedom."
Net Neutrality at risk!!!
FCC Commissioner: Net Neutrality A 'Threat To Internet Freedom'

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