Tags: Media Consolidation

The Comcast/Time Warner Merger and the War Between Centralization and Decentralization

Or take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.

-Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World Revisited (1958) 

Until recent years, the struggle between the forces of “centralization” and “decentralization” was more of a full on slaughter-fest than an actually battle or war. As Americans sat there blissfully asleep for decades, every facet of our lives has been carefully consolidated into the hands of a smaller and smaller group of corporations, and hence individual executives. This trend is undeniable in everything from food, banking, media and everything in between.

Myself and many others saw the financial crisis of 2008 as a gigantic wakeup call. The disasters caused by powerful financial institutions and the greedy people that ran them should have been used as a rallying cry to break these institutions up. To recognize the dangers of too much power in one particular place. This is especially important in something as crucial as banking. However, as we are all painfully aware, this is not what happened. Rather, the institutions were bailed out, the industry consolidated even more than it was before, and the perpetrators of the crisis emerged from it even more wealthy and powerful.

My personal focus on this website has been to expose the unique dangers presented by centralization in the financial industry and the monetary system. However, many others are dedicated to the equally important and disturbing trends in other industries. Consumer goods is one of these areas, and a very telling diagram went around late last year showing how 10 companies basically control everything you buy. Take a look below:

10corporations

Dangerous consolidation of the media is a trend that has also been discussed by many people on many occasions, and many of us by now have heard the stat that in the U.S. just six media giants control 90% of all TV, news, radio and film. Now that Comcast is set to buy Time Warner, the situation is about to get that much worse. The International Business Times made some poignant points:

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FCC Rule Change Would Favor Big Media

Here we go; more centralization, consolidation, and corruption as America barrels its way toward serfdom.  The best part of this saga is that Obama was one of the most vocal Senators against such rule changes when George W. Bush was in office, but not a peep from him now.  Bernie Sanders (Vermont Senator) and Michael Copps (FCC commissioner from 2001 to 2011) wrote an excellent Op Ed in Politico.  Here are excerpts:

A cornerstone of American democracy is a free and open press providing diverse viewpoints. As Thomas Jefferson said in 1823, “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted to be freely expressed.” In America today, however, a trend toward corporate media consolidation is drowning diverse opinions and eliminating local control.  In 1983, 90 percent of the American media was owned by 50 companies. Today, 90 percent is controlled by just six corporations: General Electric, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS.

The Federal Communications Commission may be on the verge of making a bad situation worse. It is considering a rule change that would clear the way for even more media consolidation. All Americans should be deeply concerned.

The failed 2007 bid to change the rules came after a similar 2003 effort to weaken the limits on cross-ownership that prevented a handful of media conglomerates from completely dominating ownership of the news outlets in our communities. Those proposals met with 3 million public comments, 99 percent of which opposed the FCC’s proposal.

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