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The Internet

AOL and Time Warner Confirm Merger Plans 406

Almost everybody sent this one in: "AOL and Time Warner merge!" See stories at cnnfn.com, Yahoo! News or almost any other online news outlet. Or go straight to the source(s); the Time Warner and AOL press releases, which make this sound like the greatest thing since the first two 'net nodes were connected together. Now you'll be able to get all your Internet needs, from connectivity to content to shopping, delivered by a single experienced company. No more need to deal with Web sites that stray from the party line, take risks (and screw up now and then), or any of that other messy old-fashioned "Internet as anarchy" stuff. To get online in the future, all you'll need to do is plug in your computer, turn off your brain, and enjoy!
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AOL and Time Warner Confirm Merger Plans

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Great. Time Warner, one of the worlds largest media companies, wants to buy AOL. AOL owns Nullsoft, the most popular MP3 player. As everyone knows, MP3's facilitate trading music, some of which is Time Warner's and may violate their copyright

    How long until AOLTW pressures Nullsoft into dropping development of Winamp?

    And what about TW's Road Runner cable modem service? How will this merger affect competition for Internet access?

    I may be paranoid, but having one company control so many media outlets (including AOL) scares the bejeezus out of me.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why should you be scared? Just think of how fast you'll get your porno-spam now! You'll be able to download it all in just a few seconds instead of waiting all evening to get it all. And, you'll no longer have to worry about thinking for yourself anymore - the largest media company in the world, combined with the largest full service Internet provider in the world means you'll get all of the information that they want you to have, the way they want you to see it! Just imagine, you won't have to think for yourself, your marketing preferences will be ignored, you'll get all the spam you ever thought possible (whether you want it or not) and all on a Windows 9* box because even though AOL can afford US$166 Billion to buy out Time-Warner, they couldn't be bothered to port AOHell 5.0 to Windows NT and properly support dial-up connections with it.

    Which is why I'm proud to say, that as of December 30th, I'm an EX-customer of AOL (don't even try to sweet-talk me with that "membership" crap - it's not a voting club). I don't know whose interests Steve Case has in mind, but it sure as hell isn't in the customers.

    BTW, it sure blows a hole in all those alleged side-deals for xDSL access with Hell Atlantic, GTE and other telcos, doesn't it? Hmmm, sounds like BOHICA to me!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a lifelong follower of Karl Marx, all I can say to this is Good!

    Marx predicted that, although capitalism was a horrifically efficient tool for accumulating capital, it contained within it the seeds of its own destruction. Just as capitalism had developed when it was clear that the feudal system could no longer evolve, and was holding back the productive forces of the industrial revolution, one day a new technology would come along which capitalism itself would not be able to embrace.

    Looks like it's happening! Think about it:
    • Patent law and capitalist intellectual property impede the development of software
    • Corporate ownership impedes the development and quality of the Internet
    • Microsoft impedes the development of absolutely everything.

    Marx predicted that when the social structure reached the point at which it impeded the productive forces, it would need to be overthrown. Can that day be far off?

    I've never understood people like Eric Raymond who claim to be libertarians who like open source. It's intrinsically communistic (or at least, anti-bourgeois). It's clear that the whole apparatus of bourgeois property rights is inimical to the productive development of the software industry as a whole. So the system has to be smashed in the interests of productive development (lend us an AK47, Eric?)

    If you want capitalism to remain, you should be demanding that the DoJ stop these destructive mega mergers. Myself, I'll just keep reading my copy of Capital, polishing my own gun and wating for the alarms to sound . . .
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They're easy to figure out what their every interest is immediately and then immediately market to appropriately. And also when they're more isolated, they'll be spending less time doing interactive social activities which usually bring a reward of happiness without the neccessity of consumption.

    This way, everyone is alone in their computer rooms (of course beliving they're connected to more people than ever...which they are, but these people are just as isolated), easy to advertise to constantly. They can INSANTLY buy products which they'll want to do because they want to reward themselves. They've earned money through dull, mind numbing labor, now they use that to buy happiness, which is about the only way to receive it when your "free time" (that time not spent working) is spent in front of a computer. Text conversations aren't even a fraction as rewarding to a person...although we try to convince ourselves such ways of communication are better and more rewarding (when all actuality it's just easier for us, takes less risks...we give into our fears and laziness). Of course the outside world is increasingly dull anyway. Where just about all areas of socializing are places to buy things (malls, restaurants, isolated stores, "theme" parks, etc.)

    Eh, what can you do?

    . [nothingness.org] . [slip.net] . [birdhouse.org] . [mpx.com.au]
  • As a cable company, they leave a lot to be desired (feature wise per dollar you have to spend). They LOVE monopoly (such as cable companies used to be). I've had Time-Warner as a cable company (in two different states) for about 5 years total and generally regretted that they were the only choice in the town at the time...plus I was renting, so couldn't install a dish (which is what I have now).
  • Need I remind you that cookies are not inherently evil, like many people seem to think? I set Netscape to accept all cookies that can only be sent back to the originating server, and leave it alone. Cookies don't allow anyone to get any personal information from me that I don't want to give them, and if somebody wants to track which ad banners I've seen and which ones I've clicked on, why should that bother me? It's their banner, nobody else can get the information about me, and as long as I don't give them personal information, they don't even really know who I am - I'm just a visitor number. If they want to track the activities of a nameless visitor, let them!

    I do agree, though, that making a site require cookies in order to view it is unforgivably stupid and annoying.
  • They make such interesting sparks when you microwave them....
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 )
    I, for one, am extremely happy about this.

    Then again, that could have something to do with the fact that I bought a mess of AOL stock after that big slide last week.

    ----

  • Actually, AOL shareholders will be trading their shares in for 1.5 shares of Time Warner, so it looks like Time Warner will still be in existance after the meger. I think that means they're buying out AOL, not the other way around.

    ----

  • I am a programmer, not a joutnalist. (apologies to McCoy).
  • Magazines would be about 10 times more expensive if it weren't for revenue from ads.

    Can you tell me, where I can find those magazines that are 10 times more expensive but have actual content instead of ads?

  • Actually, it looks like CNNfn got the story wrong -- their version as of my last posting doesn't jive with the rest of the reporting.

    ----

  • Market cap is easy to measure - market share isn't.

    Remember the recent fuss over Linux users buying Quake to get the commercial levels, but the sales being registered as Windows sales (or something along those lines)?

    Who's figures do you believe for market share? Sales figures are always fiddled with? How do you measure the number of Linux users when they can legally download/copy distributions?

    Etc?

    ...j
  • I find it interesting that a 'net company has finally turned around and bought an established old media company.

    Talking about this with some people the other day, and we found it suprising that the dotcoms haven't been using their insane valuations to do stock swaps to purchase the established brands (with good back-catalogues/archives of content).

    ...j
  • It probably will mean AOL freebie disks falling out of Time magazine, etc., every other week...

    Similar to Freeserve in the UK. ISP supposedly run by Dixon's (big bricks and mortar electrical goods/computer chain in the UK). All the techie stuff is done by boring technical companies in the background, with Dixon's largely providing the distribution network for their CD's (ie, shipping crates of the things to their stores along with their normal shipments of TVs, etc.)

    Marginal cost to them is next to nothing, and it's built them a business worth, well, lots. Can't find their exact market cap at the moment, but I seem to recall it's in the region of £1.5bn.

    ...j
  • The main problem that I see with "traditional" news media is the continous trumpeting of the old chestnuts "We're completely impartial" and "We just report the news" when in fact it's impossible for any institution to be impartial. Admitting your biases upfront is the only to report the news, IMO. Do you expect that Time Warner news agencies will report about possible AOL misdeeds completely truthfully? Disney execs have said they don't want ABC reporting about the parent company. Is it right, no. Does it happen, yes. (if in doubt investigate the 60Minutes-tobacco industry story that The Insider was based on) If you know the biases upfront, it makes you a better news consumer.

  • I assure you, any slob can. Geocities, FortuneCity, Tripod, Go Network, etc etc.

    Subject, of course, to whatever their 'acceptable content' policy is.


    ...phil

  • 10 times more expensive? I buy a magazine called "Adbusters" whenever I can find it on the store shelves... They have no ads, and it is less then $8 Canadian price... If these people can do it without ads, so can the rest of the magazines...

    Adbusters [adbusters.org] is a nonprofit; I expect that the magazine is partially subsidized by their other donations and fundraising, not just by the cover price.

    Adbusters is wonderful, however: I highly recommend it.

  • Where as ISPs in the US are all being swallowed up by media companies, the opposite is happening in the UK. Here there is a new ISP almost every-day. Netscape has one, David Bowie has one, there is even the excellent UKLinux [uklinux.net]! Of course much of the reason for this is because of the way calls are charged here in the UK, making it much easier for ISPs to extract money from their customers (British Telecom do it for them!).
    I would be quite worried that the big media companies are moving in on the Internet given that the Internet is probably the biggest threat to people used to "broadcasting" their output to people whether they want it or not (I don't like something on SlashDot, there are 1001 other sites I can visit, or better, I can email Rob and complain - try avoiding Time Warner's output for 24 hours).
    I hope they are just in it for the money, and not in an attempt to allow them to dominate the Internet in the same way that they dominate the rest of the media.

    --

  • The merger itself - I may have missed this, but this is all pending FTC approval, right? I have a feeling that there may resistance from the FTC *AND* shareholders in this. So nothing's written in stone yet.


    I suspect this will be approved w/ nary a squeak from the FTC, and deafening applause from shareholders. What gov't agency is gonna challenge CNN to a showdown? Who's got more clout, the "altruistic, customer-focused" megacorp, or the "evil, interfering" gov't. The dominant meme in American politics today is that the government can do no right. Which is exactly what the AOLTurnerTimeWarners of the world want.


    -Isaac

  • The merger itself - I may have missed this, but this is all pending FTC approval, right? I have a feeling that there may resistance from the FTC *AND* shareholders in this. So nothing's written in stone yet.

    I suspect this will be approved w/ nary a squeak from the FTC, and deafening applause from shareholders. What gov't agency is gonna challenge CNN to a showdown? Who's got more clout, the "altruistic, customer-focused" megacorp, or the "evil, interfering" gov't. The dominant meme in American politics today is that the government can do no right. Which is exactly what the AOLTurnerTimeWarners of the world want.

    -Isaac

  • The problem with SmartMoney's map is that it focus on market capitalization, which tends to be based on the fantasies of the investors, as opposed to market share (how much of a given market does a given company control)? It doesn't give any insight into areas where there is a lot of competition vs areas where there is almost none.

  • Oh no! The one company that understand how to make online services easy to use is getting bigger!

    Has it occurred to anyone that this might be a Good Thing? AOL is very keenly interested in network appliances and non-PC devices in general. PDAs, phones, set-top boxen, wearables, etc., and they're interested in doing so on non-Microsoft platforms. That means there will be a formidable company backing devices beyond those that are "Windows-Powered".

    This is one of the few possible moves that can prevent Windows Media Player and ActiveX from becoming requirements in the near future, and works to bolster alternative operating systems regardless of what AOL Time Warner themselves do. Their motivations will be revenue and traffic, not cross-sales of a line of software. This is important.
  • Once upon a time (ahem) Time-Warner bought and ruined Atari - but THIS time, haha, the boot is on the other foot. Who woulda thought that some little outfit that started out trying to deliver Atari 2600 video games over the phone (now known as the mightly AOL) would be buying out TW - heeheehee.

    Boojum
  • The decision by American Online to buy ALL of Time-Warner has extremely frightening possibilities, to say the least.

    The Time-Warner conglomerate already controls a large fraction of what we see on TV, hear on radio and read in magazines; add in AOL's huge online presence and they control a large portion of what we read on the Internet, too.

    I think the FTC _may_ ask many questions about this, because of its severe anti-trust implications. It's like if Microsoft were to buy out either Symantec or Corel....
  • That's what YOU think.

    Consider this for each Time-Warner division:

    Warner Brothers is one of the largest studios in all of Hollywood, with movie production, TV production, animation production, plus its own TV network. Not to mention one of the largest film libraries in all of Hollywood.

    Time, Inc. runs some extremely influential magazines: Time, Life, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and others.

    DC Comics has become a major influence in the comics industry. Their copyrighted properties are worth billions.

    Turner Broadcasting owns CNN, CNN International, CNN Headline News, CNNsi, TNT and TBS Superstation.

    HBO Networks owns HBO (through several channels) and Cinemax (through several channels), plus TVKO pay-per-view.

    Time-Warner Cable owns 20% of all cable systems in the USA.

    Warner Brothers Records (through its various labels) has a massive amount of recordings done per year.

    When you combine the mass media power of Time-Warner with 21 million AOL subscribers, the result will be the most powerful mass media company in the world, no contest. This is frightening potential to stifle free speech as the AOL Time Warner conglomerate can shut out competitors in many entertainment markets.
  • This is slightly off topic (which is why I'm posting this without my bonous point) but it has to be said..

    Why did it take slashdot more then three hours to report this?

    I know that this may sound somewhat pedantic, but this really IS major news and should have been put on slash the moment it got out. Instead, for some unknown reason (confirmation?) slash opted to wait. Roblimo has posted other, less important stories throught this period, so this really puzzles me.

    Bad slashdot! BAD!

    This delay denied the comunity from commenting on this story in real time, which is slashdot's true forte. And why I read slash religously. you have been warned.
    --------------------------------
  • You are not the only one who owns some stock. They have done quite well in the last six months. One of the better performers.

    My only concern is that I hope this doesn't screw up the Time Warner Road Runner Cable Modem service. I just signed up and I want to use my Linux box for my home network. You mention Linux to some of these guys (ISPs) and they throw up the great wall of china.
  • Wonder when their antitrust trial starts.

    That would require them to break anti-trust law. Unlike Microsoft, AOL seems to have some ethics and will probably do what they can to *obey* the law. I doubt you will see the DoJ filing an anti-trust lawsuit against them anytime soon.

    -Brent
  • >>Not everyone can meet you at your level. I'm glad that AOL (who has done more than any company to bring the Internet to the masses) is leveraging their power to increase their range.

    Why is this good? Did you ever think that maybe more clueless idiots is exactly what we DON'T need?

    The more clueless idiods we get, the more of a call for regulation we will get. Also people who don't understand the culture, the more "$$$$Make cash Now, Ask me How$$$" messages we will get.

    >>Not everyone can fire up a Linux box and configure PPP and connect to the Internet.

    Not everyone can put the key in the ignition, start the car and go for a drive.....If you lack the requisite skill set, you've got no business getting on the internet.

    LK
  • >>Not everyone can meet you at your level. I'm glad that AOL (who has done more than any company to bring the Internet to the masses) is leveraging their power to increase their range.

    Why is this good? Did you ever think that maybe more clueless idiots is exactly what we DON'T need?

    The more clueless idiods we get, the more of a call for regulation we will get. Also people who don't understand the culture, the more "$$$$Make cash Now, Ask me How$$$" messages we will get.

    >>Not everyone can fire up a Linux box and configure PPP and connect to the Internet.

    Not everyone can put the key in the ignition, start the car and go for a drive.....If you lack the requisite skill set, you've got no business getting on the internet, or going for a drive.

    LK
  • But if your home access is controlled by the very people who have large stake in traditional corporate media, why the hell would they ever give you the ability to publish anything.

    Interesting point. Many ISPs already have terms of service that prohibit running servers. And I have noticed that ADSL is labelled as being for home/consumer use, whereas SDSL (which also happens to be a lot more expensive) is labelled as being for business.

    Could this whole situation turn into a Free Speech issue?


    ---
  • Or is Netscape evil, too, now?

    Netscape has always been evil. In the early days of the web, you could view any web page with any standards-compliant web browser. Netscape changed all that when they launched their embrace-and-extend attack on the Web. This was long before anyone ever suspect that Microsoft would ever get involved.

    I think the real reason a lot of people around here are pro-Netscape is simply because Linux/Unix doesn't have any decent web browsers. Netscape's decision to support Linux was a brilliant move, because they picked up a lot of advocates who were gullible enough to believe that Netscape was a moral alternative to Microsoft.

    By keeping Linux users from ever having an itch, Netscape prevented the open source movement from ever scratching. They didn't need to give you a good web browser; a mediocre one would do. I hope the open source community thinks about the consequences, the next time someone tries to seduce them with Linux support. Thank God that no one ever licensed a DVD player for Linux!


    ---
  • Here we go again...

    Everytime some mega-corp that has some business on the internet merges with some other mega-corp that has some business on the internet everyone has a coniption fit about how the internet is being too commercialized and how big brother is going to ram it's content down every joe person's throat.

    Well duh, of course they are.

    But how is that any different than it was last year? Or the year before? Or the year before? This is been going on for about 5 years and honestly it has yet to change MY internet experince. I still dont use AOL. I still am bombarded with ads and get spam (since about 95 at least). My connection is still too slow. There's still just as much crap as there is good content.

    Dont forget, the audience is what dictates the content. If you want to see something, you'll figure out a way to find it and someone will figure out a way to bring it to you. This isn't TV. It does not cost millions of dollars for a transmitter and FCC license. Any slob can set up a web site, as long as people read, it will stay.

    Honestly, it doesn't look that different than yesterday from where I'm sitting. Yes the internet is different than it was when I started in the early 90's. But then again I could not buy CD's or books, or computer parts, or musical instruments on the internet back then either.

    -Rich
  • Except that AOL, much as we hate it, is the real deal. They have 4 times the profit of Time-Warner (real cash money, not stock profit) on a quarter the sales.

    this isn't a shell game, much as we hate AOL it is a seriously profitable company that is the envy of every other market.
  • Quote from press release...

    "Time Warner and America Online stock will be converted to AOL Time
    Warner stock at fixed exchange ratios. The Time Warner shareholders
    will receive 1.5 shares of AOL Time Warner for each share of Time
    Warner stock they own. America Online shareholders will receive one
    share of AOL Time Warner stock for each share of America Online
    stock they own."

    This says AOL share holders get a 1 for 1 trade, while TW share holders get 1.5 to 1 in the deal. Not the other way around.

    Eric
  • They can add there own little slice to the Internet if they like but the'll never change whats allready here.
    When I came on the Internet it was allready making it's first moves to e-commerce.. But the term itself had yet to be coinned.
    Instead of Amazon we had books.com.. a telnet server instead of a website...
    Years later... ICQ did not replace IRC (as some predicted) Java did not replace HTML....
    The Internet is still pritty much a Unix domain to spite all efforts by the leading maker of operating systems to change this.
    Why? And why can't the Internet be changed?
    It changes every day but all anyone can do is add to it... Only Andover/CmdrTaco can change /., Only Yahoo can change Yahoo, Only Zindophy can change Zindophys home page and if we don't like it we make an alternitive... (Note no one who complains about /. knows enough to make a functional alternitive or at least cares enough to try)
    It is unlikely that AoL/Time will be able to make functional alternitives to all the content on the Internet and if AoL isolates it's users from that content the existing user base will move to other on-line services that let them access the content they wish. (It seems unlikely that AoL users will switch to an ISP but there are plenty of user friendly OSP AoL clones that users can pick)

    No AoL/Time alternitive to /., no replacement to Amazon (unfortunatly), No replacement to Ebay (if there was Yahoo auctions would be that replacment)...

    AoL/Time can add content all they like.. if it's no better than the current trash it'll just stay in the corner. Lets hope AoL and Time don't think handing out CDs and ad campaigns can change the Internet.. we have to much spam as it is....
  • And yet I can't even browse this site without having cookies enabled. I understand that several prepackaged web apps drop in cookies for session id's to cache browsing but I still hold firm to the fact that a site that requires cookies to even view it, are abusing cookies and do not deserve my business. If i then decide to do business with a company, I will enable cookies. uggggggg.
  • Maybe my wording was off. I'm refering to tracking information. I don't mind storing a cookie for something like slashdot or nytimes or even cdnow that stores my login information so that I don't have to reenter it because there is no information on those sites that I consider overly important. I don't EVER let sites store my credit card information on thier sites and choose to enter it myself when I make a purchase. I will however enable cookies for a site temporarily if I need to make a purchase and then block the site again when I am done making my purchase. I would suggest reading developer.netscape.com after searching for cookies. I wish browsers had a function built in to specify sites to accept cookies from and deny others the same way I can with junkbuster.

    Here are some examples of sites I allow cookies from:

    yahoo.com
    lc2.law5.hotmail.passport.com
    .hotmail.msn.com
    www.springmail.com
    aolmail.aol.com
    - You can guess those easily enough.

    developer.redhat.com
    slashdot.org
    nytimes.com
    classmates.com
    www.maxim-magazine.co.uk
    www.informit.com
    www.highschoolalumni.com
    - Those are for logins to sites that I visit on a regular basis.

    copyleft.net
    cdnow.com
    fatbrain.com
    - sites I buy from that require per session cookies to use shopping carts

    etrade.com
    etrade.bridge.com
    - Etrade's cookies are NOT persistant and I always logout after I leave the site.

    This is the type of things cookies should be used for. I don't want to have some random site storing a tracking cookie via a lame ass banner ad or using a cookie to track me from site to site. If I don't know what the site is using the cookie for, I sure as hell am not going to allow it.

    All sites should have a fallback if a browser doesn't accept cookies. ESPECIALLY if you require cookies to even laod the damn thing.
  • I've been reading all over the place that "If AOL doesn't devise a broadband strategy soon, it's going to fail," or things to that effect. Well, here it is. Time Warner's Road Runner [twcnyc.com] Cable Modem service (which will surely soon become AOL Road Runner, or something else like it). I guess this isn't groundbreaking news, but people have been whining for months that AOL didn't have a "broadband strategy," and now we can see that they had far greater plans indeed...

    ______________________________________
    um, sigs should be heard and not seen?

  • I already stated my "fear" in another post, but having more time to think about it caused me to realize just how much control this new company will have.

    Let's say, for example (and, yes, I know this is super-far-fetched), that Steve Case gets a little power-happy and wants to scare the American People. AOL's Welcome Screen, CNN, all of AOL/TW's Media outlets proclaim "China Launches Nukes," citing anonymous sources. Seeing these reports in numerous media outlets, other non-AOL media, the Times, the Globe, the WSJ, etc., all begin reporting that CNN and AOL are reporting nukes, etc. Panic ensues.

    Like I said, I realize this is extremely far-fetched. But what if enemies of the United States were somehow able to gain influence over this new conglomeration, which has such an incredible pull on what we, the American public, know? Selective reporting and editing can influence the masses in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

    They say power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. While I don't think Steve Case or the TW guy has any plans to destroy America, I don't think it's healthy having all the media controlled by a single entity. The whole idea behind the Internet was to have things decentralized so that if a part were ever to shut down the rest could continue. What happens if all of AOL goes down?

    It just seems scary to have to rely on the good will of a small group of people for the entire information distribution system of the nation.

    ______________________________________
    um, sigs should be heard and not seen?

  • The duplicate posting of this story has disappeared from the front page, but there was a decent amount of discussion there too, so here's a link to it:
    [slashdot.org]
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=00/01/10/0949 226&mode=thread
  • The problem, though, is that most people don't want interactivity. They don't want Tim Berners-Lee's web, where ideas can be exchanged at the speed of light. They just want to go to joecartoon.com and get the latest Gerbil cartoon. Or they want to go to msnbc.com and get the latest news. Or go to ZDNet so they can feel "techno-hip". They don't want to come to Slashdot (please, flamers, refrain from comments regarding free-thinking and Slashdot, I've heard enough). They don't want to try new things, hear new ideas, or contribute their ideas. Maybe they're lazy. Maybe they're afraid. Maybe they're stupid. But to these people, the Intenet is TV over the phone-lines-- they don't care if the connection is two-way.

    You know, this is the usual contempt that folks who think they are elite pour down on mundanes, but it's not true. AOLers and others love interactivity just as much as you. They may post to message boards to talk about their cats instead of code, they may join chat rooms to talk about their kids or look for virtual sex, but the ability to communicate with other people enchants them just as much as it does you. Climb down off the high horse.
  • It scares me too. They have such a large market share that they can exert a strong influence on content on the Internet. I received the following news clipping in the mail today, whether or not you hate/love guns, think about the implications of corporate political correctness:

    AOL Declares Guns Pornography

    Sharp G&A readers have noticed that Jim Supica, owner of the Old Town Station Dispatch Ltd., occasionally loans us an antique firearm for our photo layouts. He is a Federal Firearms License holder and runs an honest, above-board business.

    It must have come as a complete surprise when America Online summarily removed his Web site from its system and sent the following e-mail to his account address. AOL wrote, "We have become aware of a web page site that is part of your account. This web page violates Hometown AOL's Community Standards, which prohibits sexually explicit graphics, links to other sites which Hometown deems offensive, harassment, the use of vulgar or sexually oriented language, discussion of illegal activities, and/or other activities that may impair the enjoyment of our community's members."

    "We have placed a note of this incident on your account history and consider this a first warning. We have removed all the file(s) from your web page/ftp site. A second occurrence will result in termination of your account with no chance of reactivation."

    Although AOL has a right to say yes or no to the types of web pages it permits, it seems a bit strong to call gun dealers pornographers. "I've heard from other dealers who got the same form letter and a no-warning boot from AOL," Supica said. "I mainly want to get on with my business with the least possible hassle. AOL's decision to dump gun dealer sites did not bother me as much as the manner in which they did it."

    Thanks to Bill Clede of the Shotgun News for the story and to the Hodgdon Powder Co. for forwarding the information.

  • Obviously most people on Slashdot don't, because I keep seeing posts whereby people "prove" that communism can't work by point to Russia and China.

    It's like nobody has taken a decent logic course... just because you can't prove something doesn't mean it's not so, and similarly, the lack of contradictory proof doesn't make something true.

    I see religious people arguing FOR the bible by trying to disprove evolution, and anti-commie nuts arguing for democracy by showing that Russia was a sucky place to live.

    Those people are proving one thing, that they just don't get it.


    And for those same people... This post doesn't defend Russia *or* communism in any way. Until you understand that, don't answer.
  • Quit being a moron. There's nothing in my post I'd have to live in Russia to understand. Labels don't make it so.

    To prove it, I'll call you a pillow. If you can read this message, obviously my labelling you as a soft fluffy thing to sit on made no change in the reality.
  • Yawn. Get another person who thinks he gets it, but doesn't.

    The USSR wasn't communist in anything but name, ditto most other 'communist' countries.

    A dictator, or ruling class, can call the economic system a monkey, but that won't be what's flying out of their asses.

    Nothing in communism talks about a KGB, kicking down doors and 'vanishing' people. That's something repressive government have been doing for a long time, before they started giving themselves cool labels.

    Ditto with a democracy. The USA, Canada, and a bunch of European countries are fairly free, nice places to live, for the most part. But this is because the government isn't repressive, not because it's called a democracy. There are plenty of 'democracies' where citizens get to vote every few years, for the same one party, and one leader, and guess what, they don't feel very free.

    You similarly can call yourself an intellectual, but until you 'get it' about how labelling something doesn't make it so, you'll still be a fool.
  • Does this mean that we'll have hearing "You've got cable!" when we turn on our cable box?

    ---
  • Dont forget, the audience is what dictates the content. If you want to see something, you'll figure out a way to find it and someone will figure out a way to bring it to you. This isn't TV. It does not cost millions of dollars for a transmitter and FCC license. Any slob can set up a web site, as long as people read, it will stay.

    That's exactly what you sould be worried about. As it is, any slob can't put up a web site, because not every "slob" has access to a machine with the connection and bandwith to perform any serious publishing. As bandwidth gets cheaper, and more homes are wired up, that will change.

    But if your home access is controlled by the very people who have large stake in traditional corporate media, why the hell would they ever give you the ability to publish anything. Your net connection exists to consume content content, not create it. Even if you've got bandwith out the wazoo, all to bring you pay-per-view TV on demand, don't expect them to let you utilize it to do anything other than sit on your ass and buy things.
  • What about this deal is anticompetitive?

    You want online access to HBO, get AOL, you want online access to CNN, get AOL, you want RoadRunner service, get AOL (should I continue?)

    Not anti-competitive, per se, but this will be the model for a 21st century media company. Anybody who can't follow will most likely be crushed. Plus with the massive TW reach, AOL will continue it's push to try and BE the Internet.
  • No kidding, carpet bombing with CDs to gain subscribers has worked great for them. TW gives 'em nuclear capabilities. I need new things to do with the CDs, I'm covered for coasters for life, but they just keep coming!
  • just wait'll they buy Anodover on a whim..
  • I haven't looked in a while but last I checked, Yahoo wasn't profitable. While this may have changed, I sincerely doubt their PE is anything like AOL's. I should probably look this up before shooting my mouth off. Oh well.
    It has changed. Yahoo is now profitable. Their PE of 1,629 (one thousand, six hundred and twenty nine) is a little insane however. I only emphasize that number because I find it completely unbelievable. Their earnings per share are a good deal lower than those of AOL as well.

    Anyway.

    I don't like AOL. It could be said that I in fact hate AOL. I do however believe that there is little danger of their bubble bursting at this point.
  • But reading these press releases, both companies feel that they need to push the internet to be central in our lives. May I ask why?


    Isn't it obvious? Money is most certianly the primary motivation. You have to admit, from the capitalist business man's point of view, this deal is potentially extreemly lucrative. You say that "you [AOL and TW] nor a company nor a governement can define the purpose or behavior of the internet". I'm not sure that this is true. Americans remain the primary force in world government, and America remains a consumer economy. The internet didn't become "big" until it became accessable to the average user (see the rise of the "web is internet" concept). As it has become larger, the other applications (IRC, newsgroups, free information exchange between comon people) for the internet have become more sparse. Their numbers may have remained approximately the same, but as big business has begun to dominate the landscape of the internet, the un-profitable uses for it are pushed out to the edges... perhaps off the map entirely.

    This brings me back to my original remark. The internet is a marketable tool for the proliferation of capitalism. As long as this remains true, big business will continue to dump money into it, and it will play a larger and larger role in all of our lives. People (in America) follow money. No two ways around it. Those with the most money win.

    Sincerely,

    Ryan Taylor
  • After all the noise Steve case made about open access last year, Will AOL Time Warner Allow other ISPs on the AOLTW owned cable companies? They forgot to mention any thing about it in the press release. Just that AOL will be avaible. Hey Steve your comments about open access are part of the public record! Live up to them.
  • True, but AOL doesn't own it. It's merely "co-branded" -- that is, another company provides the service, and sells the naming rights to AOL. Yahoo does the same thing with many of its services (maps by Mapquest, weather by WeatherNews Inc., etc.) Frankly, I don't know how many people would sign up for AOL Long Distance given the company's already crappy record for handling local dial-up number service.
  • I quit AOL years ago when I started using Linux and stuff, but now..... If I watch like The Matrix (a WB movie), does this make me an AOLer (or AOLuser) now? ohhh nooo i cant escape!

    #----------------------------
    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • This is the first thing I thought of when I read about it this morning. So, after I got home from school I called my local Tampa Bay RoadRunner, and the guy I talked to said that no, I would not be switching to AOL and that it would stay "RoadRunner". Now, this is just a regular customer service guy so it could be wrong, but at least it's hopeful information. Even if it did turn to AOL, I probally wouldnt' drop it due to the fact I like my high speeds, but I would definitly complain.
  • It's their banner, nobody else can get the information about me, and as long as I don't give them personal information, they don't even really know who I am - I'm just a visitor number.
    But when several companies serve banner ads from one source, they can know who you are. See the explanation [photo.net] from Phillip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing [photo.net]. (You'll have to scroll down the page a bit.)
  • You are not the only one who owns some stock. They have done quite well in the last six months. One of the better performers.
    So what are you, as AOL's part-owners, doing to make it suck less? Bringing up any stockholder resolutions to, say, requiring educating new users? Or are you just planning to take the money and run, playing the "profit without responsibility" game that is our modern stock market?
  • That's pretty wrong. AOL does offer a reasonable approximation of a TCP/IP connection, and it does so by default. I'm not even sure it's possible to disable it.

    The catch is that it's not PPP... it's actually done at the driver level. Essentially, the AOL application pretends to be a NIC. Of course, this only works on Win95 and MacOS, but AOL is only available on those platforms anyway, right?
  • *cries*
    Just when I was feeling good about my cable modem... If the roadrunner comes on and tells me "you've got mail" I'm going to shoot someone.
  • Actually, in the state of Vermont, a law was recently passed allowing corporations to take other factors into account in business decisions.
  • I really hope you weren't being serious. As I'm sure you know, Slashdot relies almost entirely on submissions from readers for their stories. That means that, before this story showed up, all the following had to happen:

    1) News item is released
    2) Slashdot reader discovers news item and submits it
    3) Roblimo, whilst sorting through the hundreds of submissions /. gets each day, discovers this story.
    4) Story gets posted to Slashdot.

    Now, if /. were some major news source with connections all over the industry, three hours would be a pretty pathetic lag time. I think, though, that it's pretty reasonable considering the way the site operates. Don't forget that many people won't here about this until 10:00 tonight, or even tomorrow morning1

  • It did matter to me before. I never really liked AOL. Maybe if I were paying them half as much, I could deal with that.

    The only reason I stayed with them is because, well, my options were limited. See, I don't have a credit card. Of the two other ISPs I considered, one didn't have a local access number (AT&T), and the other didn't take checks. They do now, though. Of course, since I'm between jobs right now, things are a little tight financially, which means I won't be switching right away. (I'd need to pay them $75, which gives me 6mos of unlimited access. Minus a $15 setup fee, that's $10 a month -- not bad)

    (P.S. Yeah, this means I won't be switching this week like I said... within a month, though)

    Anyway, the reason this merger -does- make a difference is, despite the impression you may get from the fact that I use AOL, I prefer to support the "little guys" whenever possible. Now, the ISP I'm looking at isn't that little (check out www.gis.net [gis.net] - coverage in most of New England) but they're a heck of a lot smaller than AOL. Now that it's AOL Time Warner, and they own pretty much Everything, I don't think they'll be needing my money anymore. Goodness knows I need it more than they do.

  • From the AOL press release:

    The companies also said, with respect to broadband access, that AOL Time Warner will be committed to ensuring consumer choice of ISPs and content and that they hope this merger will persuade all companies operating broadband platforms to provide consumers with real choice.

    Looks good to me.

    -Brent

    Not to me. It's the same line Roadrunner has been using in denying access. "You can use an outside ISP if you want, you just have to pay for ours, first." It looks like (more) slight of hand.
  • RoadRunner was just becoming a good, un-intrusive ISP.

    They recently got rid of their login software, so that it works completely transparently.

    In the beginning, the technicians who installed the cable connection had some FUD for Internet Explorer that they would spread. ("We can't guarantee this will work with Netscape.") They've stopped doing that now.

    They have decent Linux support - back when you had to log in, they pointed Linux users to a Perl script you could use to log in. They have Linux-related newsgroups on their server as well.

    With AOL buying them out, I'm afraid this could all go straight to hell. In the eyes of AOL, Linux simply doesn't exist, since it has nothing to do with their target market. Their login software is notorious for being as intrusive as possible - one program that you have to start, and you can only effectively use the Internet programs that are assimilated into it.

    In the old RoadRunner login software, there was an option to open RoadRunner's home page automatically, which provided "content" in case anyone cared. AOL seems like the kind of service that is liable to put the login system back just so they can have their "Channels" show up on login. And of course it would only be a Windows/Mac program.

    Now, I hope I'm wrong. AOL pretty much left Netscape alone, so it's possible that RoadRunner will remain the same as well. However, I really doubt it. AOL's network has problems. What if they dump all their users onto RoadRunner's network? It doesn't matter how fast the connection is, if it's got a bottleneck that has to be shared by millions of people.
    --
  • AOL makes a good play that helps their side. If the FTC doesn't shoot it down, AOL has some way-serious, inbred, cross-marketing potential. I'm not talking about AOL-everywhere, although that's going to happen now. I'm talking about advertising packages. For example, Reebok will be able to run an ad campaign across TV/AOL/Movies/Magazines, at a bulk rate.

    For TW, the merger may have been a must, and I take it as a sign that they gave up trying to cope with the Internet as a medium, and settled for AOL's 20 million customer base. Yay, they're to the 90's and 00's what network TV was to the 50's and 60's. [vomit]

    No, AOL is not an ISP. AOL is a media company, which means "advertising pimp". Has been, will be. The Internet is just another tool for AOL, along with its private services and now Time, Warner Brothers, and TBS, to "market goods and services".

    Oh, bloody hell, I forgot about that. TBS will now be in AOHelL. And I thought Time Warner's acquisition of TBS was bad.

    The real scary part is combining limited access with huge market power. An earlier post mentioned TW's RoadRunner putting time-limits on streaming video that does not originate from an affiliated site. As an aside, I consider such action to disqualify RoadRunner as an ISP, and instead classify it as an online service.

    But consider the possibilities: AOL uses its market share to "convince" large-dollar sites to make deals, because non-affiliates don't get full bandwidth. Users may grumble and moan, but where else is the typical AOL user going to go? An ISP? That would take thought, and require learning something. So, AOL can say "Hey, we've got 30 million people that won't be looking at all of your content if you don't have a deal with us. Bandwidth costs money, you know."

    End result is that AOL pimps, makes billions, and puts itself between more revenue and the Internet and AOL user bases.
  • In a sense, this is creating a new internet.

    AOL's community is going to be almost completely self-sufficient. Why would you need to leave the vaulted doors of AOL in the future... you have almost everything you (the consumer) need, or want. Every aspect of your leisure life is just about covered. Like sports, hello Sports Illustrated. Need something for the kids to do... well, Warner Brothers has plenty of that. Need your news, well Time and CNN are right there for you.

    Soon, there will be AOL, and the rest of the internet.

    Fine, let them have it :)
  • AOL is not buying Time Warner.

    It's a merger, not an acquisition.


    Only in name really... AOL shareholders get 55% of the company in this all-stock deal. And Bezos will head it.
  • AOL is getting 55% of the new company.

    What you described above shows that you have a poor understanding of the situation.

    Very rarely do merging companies have the same amount of outstanding shares. In this case, Time Warner has 1.2 billion, while AOL has 2.2 billion.

    Some stock swapping has to take place in order for AOL shareholders to have 55%. You do the math.

    Once again... I am right :)
  • The merger itself - I may have missed this, but this is all pending FTC approval, right? I have a
    feeling that there may resistance from the FTC *AND* shareholders in this. So nothing's written in stone yet.


    Yes, it still has to be voted in by shareholders... though Ted Turner (the largest shareholder) has already stated he would vote for the merger with his 9% of Time Warner. The other majority, all the institutional investors out there will most likely vote for it because it is the best thing for the stock price... already we have seen Time Warner go up 50% on this news. Who is going to vote this down!?

    The FTC will have to approve it, but there is very little standing in the way... as long as Disney is alive and kicking. There is no monopoly present.
    • Who's got more clout, the "altruistic, customer-focused" megacorp, or the "evil, interfering" gov't. The dominant meme in American politics today is that the government can do no right.

    I dunno. Seems like lately, the dominant meme in American Politics is "we must protect the children".

    All the while, the 3 largest Energy (Oil) mergers (Exxon/Mobil, Amoco/BP, Shell/Texaco downstream), the largest telecomm (MCI Worldcomm), the largest automotive (Daimler/Chrysler), the largest media (CBS/Viacom) and the huge (and illegal at the time of cosummation, they got the law changed AFTER the merger) banking/insurance merger (Travelers/Citicorp) all take place.

    Rather than the Government being afraid to take on these corporations, after all they DID take on Microsoft, I think the politicians and media are providing cover for them.

    It's funny how the 1980s are still known in the media as the Merger Madness decade when it was the 1990s and now the 2000s that have really seen the growth of the MegaCorp. Who would have thunk that Clinton was more friendly to big bidness than Reagan?


    -Jordan Henderson

  • Look, if anybody's going to kick MSFT around, it's going to be this 8-headed monster. Take a pill, already.

    Ah. The enemy of my enemy, right?

    Or is Netscape evil, too, now?

    Oh yes, have been for ages. They invented "decommoditising net standards", after all.

    As one of the legion who spend 10% of work time authoring web content, and the other 90% trying to work around Netscape bugs, I'm sure I speak for many others in saying Netscape are very evil indeed, oh yes. :-(

    So, roll up, roll up, for the fight of the multinationals! Netscape-Sun-AOL-Time-Warner vs IE-Microsoft-MSN-News-International, coming soon to a world near you!

    On pay-per-view, natch.


    --
    This comment was brought to you by And Clover.
  • Agree. Danger Will Robinson!

    It is bad when a few companies control so much of something. However, as far as how this affects both comapnies, AOL and TW benefit greatly. AOL gets the 'programing' and content (etc) while TW extends its market to half the expendable income in the world.

    I hope for our sake and most likely the sake of our children that the FTC blocks this. TW already has the ability to implement mind control (in the form of repeating news) on the world. To put matters simply, /. , and those like it which incorporate human input, are the last entries into the media world for a long time. But even when a story is 'broke' here, the rest of the world's population hears it spung and dumbed down by the like of TW and its peers.
  • Listen: DSL is *way* behind cablemodem, and MS and AT&T effectively blocked AOL out of the cablemodem market.

    If AOL didn't have access to cablemodem, it wouldn't have access to broadband. If it didn't have access to broadband, it DIES.

    Yes, I don't like concentration of services in a single firm as much as the next guy... but understand that it's more SCARY for AOL-Time Warner's shareholders than for consumers. Look at the executives: there's a Chairman & Vice Chairman and two Co-COO's. That's confusing - there are TOO MANY managers, and (I expect) the firm will compete poorly with smaller, nimbler rivals. No, this isn't the first step toward capitalism, it's the first step toward decreased revenue & profit growth for the combined firm. (BTW studies have shown time and time again that recently merged firms do worse than the individual firms did before the merger).

    AOL *needed* to do this (and may try to buy it's way into more broadband). And no, I think we don't have anything to fear from the combined firm. With the exception of TW's cable customers, this firm isn't any kind of monopoly.
  • The FTC has shut down massive mergers before, your reading of the political "meme" notwithstanding. And the DOJ was heady enough to take on none other than Microsoft.

    If anything, the "dominant meme" in the current administration seems to be to jump into a fight if they see a reason.

    What you haven't explained, though, is why the FTC should be worried. What about this deal is anticompetitive?

  • So a few months ago I finally dumped AOL and ordered Time Warner Roadrunner cable. What a joy it was to be free of the pitifully slow network, obnoxious advertisements, and People-magazineish content of awful AOL! Now - AOL is going to provide content for Roadrunner. Next thing you know they'll have a proprietary browser. And pop-up ads. UGH!
  • Speaking as a Turner employee: thanks. I don't always agree with the big boss, but he's got balls, and is a lot more straightforward than the likes of Gates (or Jobs). At least when he donates $100 million it's not to the "Turner Foundation", it's to REAL charities.

    I also like Time Warner, and us Turner employees got good things when we were merged with Time Warner. The benefits are wonderful, as are the people I work with. Even the people that were let go supposedly got great severence packages.

    You can't believe the depression that set in, though, when I came in this morning and had three corporate emails confirming the merger. If you want to hype up the company and the potentials of the merger to idiot buzzword buying stock brokers, that's fine, but to send the employees the press release about how wonderful this is was pretty insulting. PLUS!! It's going to be called AOL Time-Warner!!! Why the #$*%$#& do [em]they[/em] get top billing?!?!

  • Wonder what our friends in Redmond feel about this...AOL is one of their main competitors for domination of the Internet. This must be a real spanner in the works.

    PS:I would give anything for a view of the MSFT offices via webcam right now.

    PPS: I wonder where this leaves Yahoo...I kinda like 'em and will be sorry to see them left behind. I guess old media/ new media marriages will consume every portal. Since Disney, NBC and USANetworks have all merged with or bought portals, Yahoo is looking more and more naked. Only time wll tell I guess.
  • My dear old pop, who writes *nix even yet, has crates of these things courtesy of my dear old mum, who is an aoler and windows specialist.

    He makes tibetan prayer wheels out of them, threading a couple dozen onto a dowel with bearing races so they spin freely. very cute little items. also extradinarily handy massage tools.

    Carl
  • AOL already has a reputation with the computer knowlegable for not being the best ISP. As a Time Warner Customer, I can state that they don't have any better qualities. I can't see the combination being all that sterling.
  • I think this is unquestionably a bad thing. We've seen the arrogance of Time Warner just in the past weeks with this debacle over carrying Fox stations in DC and Texas.

    The internet thrives on connectivity. Time Warner's theories on openness leave a lot to be desired - look at their Pathfinder service. They've run their cable companies with an iron fist, and now they'll have control of AOL?

    Oh yeah, and they're for openness, but only in broadband. What about in cable?

    Someone previously mentioned the committment to broadband choice - that's just someone writing comedy into the press release. Vinton Cerf has said that broadband PROVIDERS are driving that revolution - AOL is just going to have to sit and watch unless they buy a provider. There is no incentive for me to put up a fat pipe to your house unless I can sell you the service that is going to run down that pipe. AOL wants access without doing any of the work or investing any of the money.

    Someone needs to ask AOL since they are into open broadband, are they willing to open their instant message standard? Demanding openness all depends on whether you're at the short end of the equation.

    In short, I think this is a power issue. AOL/TW will have far to much discretionary control over too many media outlets. I saw a syndicated column this morning in The Arizona Republic that mentioned how control of media outlets shapes public opinion, like in the 50s when the major networks supported the Korean War, and in the 60's when they opposed Vietnam. Who knows when that'll be exercised again...


    ==
    "This is the nineties. You don't just go around punching people. You have to say something cool first."

  • AOL can never take over the internet; it can never control the media even after buying Time-Warner.

    While this is probably one of the biggest mergers in history, and certainly the biggest media merger, it's important to keep in mind that the internet is also the biggest communications medium in history. Even with the merger, they "own" the same proportion of the internet that other companies (say, ABC or NBC) owned in other communications mediums, like radio or television. Actually, they own less.

    As long as there are people like us on /. who are committed to providing and/or promoting:

    a) open source, free speech internet standards like Linux and Mozilla,

    b) many ISPs and many sources of bandwidth (DSL, Cable, Wireless/Satelite), and

    c) a variety of hardware architectures,

    the internet will never become owned by one company. No matter how much AOL and Microsoft wish over a magic 8 ball.

    -Merlyn42

  • I just want to hear James Earl Jones say "You've Got Mail." When will that happen?


    ---------
  • by richnut ( 15117 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @12:14PM (#1387794)
    Until AOLScapeWarnerSoftCorp decides that it's not in their best interests. Someone above already mentioned limiting streaming video access from non-affiliated partners; plain HTML access could be next--easily.

    I'm not an expert on AOL since I've only used it a couple of times at my parents' house in the last month.

    But didn't they try this already? AOL did not always allow access to the internet. Users complained. AOL changed their mind, and left compuserve and prodigy in the dust. Whether they are free or not, people want to think they are. History has proven time and time again that the little guy has the power to beat goliath if he offers something people want.

    -Rich
  • by Evro ( 18923 ) <evandhoffman AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 10, 2000 @05:42AM (#1387795) Homepage Journal
    I know this won't add much to the discussion, but... holy shit! After picking my jaw off the ground I thought about it and I have to side with Roblimo. This is going to be one huge, scary company. I think at this point AOL owns about 20% of the sites in my bookmarks, including CNN.com. You know what they say about controlling the media...

    It doesn't really seem too horrible, but who knows.

    ______________________________________
    um, sigs should be heard and not seen?

  • by MrP- ( 45616 ) <<moc.acissejpus> <ta> <acissej>> on Monday January 10, 2000 @05:56AM (#1387796)
    it will be renamed to Elmer Fudds' Web Bwowser

    #----------------------------
    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • by imac.usr ( 58845 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @04:43AM (#1387797) Homepage
    Even though AOL will be the purchasing company in terms of stock, will Time-Warner's influence alter the nature of the Mozilla project?


  • by Rabbins ( 70965 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @04:56AM (#1387798)
    Except that AOL, much as we hate it, is the real deal. They have 4 times the profit of Time-Warner (real cash money, not stock profit) on a quarter the sales.

    While AOL's profit margin may be higher, you still have a company with revenues of $2.17 per share, buying a company with revenues of $21.85 per share. Time Warner's cash flow is also close to ten times that of AOL. This year, Time Warner had an operating margin of 28%, while AOL pushed 10% for the very first time.

    AOL may have proven you can make money with the internet, but I a little nervous as to whether they have worn themselves a little thin.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10, 2000 @04:37AM (#1387799)
    Wow. You really don't like this, do you? I mean, yeah, it isn't exactly a blow for individuality or innovative thinking, but don't get so worked up. Even assuming it's as bad as you make it out to be, it's not surprising or even a big deal. Let me tell you why:

    The Internet is a communications medium. Just as radio and TV are communications media. The major (and this *is* big) difference is that the Internet allows interactivity. If you don't like what's being said, you can post something on USENET, or Slashdot. Or go over to (God help us) Geocities and put up a webpage stating your opinion.

    The problem, though, is that most people don't want interactivity. They don't want Tim Berners-Lee's web, where ideas can be exchanged at the speed of light. They just want to go to joecartoon.com and get the latest Gerbil cartoon. Or they want to go to msnbc.com and get the latest news. Or go to ZDNet so they can feel "techno-hip". They don't want to come to Slashdot (please, flamers, refrain from comments regarding free-thinking and Slashdot, I've heard enough). They don't want to try new things, hear new ideas, or contribute their ideas. Maybe they're lazy. Maybe they're afraid. Maybe they're stupid. But to these people, the Intenet is TV over the phone-lines-- they don't care if the connection is two-way.

    The AOL-Time-Warner merger is simply a statement of this fact; a glaringly obvious expression of what has been known for a long time. It's not a step forward in the idea of turning off brains, and it isn't even really anything new. This thing is only going to allow people a central site to go to when they want to switch their minds off.

    People have turned their brains off for a long time, Roblimo-- this is just going to be a new place to do it.
  • by jbrw ( 520 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @05:21AM (#1387800) Homepage
    More and more I'm reminded of the cyberspace scenes as described by Gibson. On the virtual world of the internet we have these larger and larger blocks representing big companies...

    Have a look at SmartMoney's Map of the Market [smartmoney.com], which, I suspect, may have been inspired by the same Gibson reference. It's a very nice way of representing the relative market caps of these big companies (and the movements of the individual companies, market sectors, etc.). Very cool tool...

    ...j


  • by Kip ( 659 ) <kip@@@aadl...org> on Monday January 10, 2000 @04:02AM (#1387801)
    I've been listening to the analyst's conference call [aol.com] for the past half hour and I have to say the thing that struck me the most was AOL COO Bob Pittman's comments about how this new company will allow for "Maximum promotion of our combined products" and then went out to outline how they will have multiple revenue streams from every household (Internet access, cable subscription, movie buying, magazines to name a few) and the cross-advertising possibilities. Financial analysts will eat this up, but what's it mean for you and me?
  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @05:52AM (#1387802)
    What you haven't explained, though, is why the FTC should be worried. What about this deal is anticompetitive?

    I am not qualified to make such a determination, nor am I necessarily opposed to this merger, but I can think certain aspects bear scrutiny.

    TimeWarner has a dominant position in a number of media niches, including television news (through the CNN family), newsmagazines (Time), movie and music publishing, etc. ad nauseam. While I don't recall if they're the largest cable operator in the nation (sounds right, though), I do know they serve the largest markets (NYC, LA). They already own a cable ISP (RoadRunner).

    After this merger, they'll own the largest ISP in the nation, AND the Netscape browser. (Blah blah Mozilla blah - Mozilla may be open source, but Mozilla isn't Navigator. They'll have the exclusive rights to the Netscape name, and the attendant mindshare.)

    This is an unheard of level of vertical integration, and can (likely, will) be used to lock competitive content out of their network. RoadRunner's TOS already includes restrictions on viewing more than 10 minutes of streaming video from anyone but "RoadRunner content partners".

    The closest historical analogue to this situation comes from the days when Hollywood studios had a collective lock on the exhibition market - all of the theatres were studio owned, in order to have the right to exhibit films produced by the studios. At that time, not only did this keep competitors out of the exhibition market, but it kept competitors out of the content market; There were no independent films to speak of, as they couldn't be exhibited in studio-owned theatres. This situation also led, naturally, to price fixing, as studios could deny access to the exhibition market anyone wishing to compete by selling tickets at a lower price; studio-owned distributors would simply refuse to service these competitors.

    Ultimately, the studios were forced to divest themselves of their theatres as a result of (surprise!) anti-trust action, in the so-called "Paramount Decrees".

    I think the parallels here are fairly obvious.

    -Isaac

    More information about the Paramount Decrees (and more analysis of vertical integration in media) here [oecd.org] and here [oecd.org].

  • by bmetzler ( 12546 ) <(bmetzler) (at) (live.com)> on Monday January 10, 2000 @04:16AM (#1387803) Homepage Journal
    They forgot to mention any thing about it in the press release.

    You forgot to read the press release.

    From the AOL press release [aol.com]:

    The companies also said, with respect to broadband access, that AOL Time Warner will be committed to ensuring consumer choice of ISPs and content and that they hope this merger will persuade all companies operating broadband platforms to provide consumers with real choice.

    Looks good to me.

    -Brent
  • by Rabbins ( 70965 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @04:26AM (#1387804)
    We saw similar activity in the 80's with the Japanese markets soaring to unbelievable heights.
    Remember the fear of the "USA being bought by corporate Japan"?

    Japanese companies were an unstoppable force at that time... you had fledgling Japanese companies no one had even heard of 5 years prior buying long-standing Amereican companies with ten times their revenue. The inflated prices of the Japanese stocks enabled them to do this.... Just as AOL is now able to buy Time Warner, a well established company with much greater revenues and cash flow.

    Will this be like the Japanese market of the 80's? When the Japanese bubble eventually burst and left numerous companies with more than they could chew... or will power of "The Internet" continue ever onward?

    Maybe next we will see Yahoo buy Disney... it is certainly not unthinkable.
  • by 74mHz ( 133198 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @03:51AM (#1387805)
    Now you will be logged off of Time Warner if you don't change channels every three minutes. When you turn your cable box on, you will fail to connect about 50% of the time. Your tv images will now be compressed to save bandwith at the expense of your image quality.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @04:01AM (#1387806)
    Well, not the death of the Internet, but the death as we know it. When I started to use the net about 9-10 yrs ago, I saw it as a very useful tool, but something that was not to replace other aspects of my life.

    But reading these press releases, both companies feel that they need to push the internet to be central in our lives. May I ask why?

    Sure, in this day and age, not knowing the internet is going to hurt your job chances, but that's because doing research and some buying on the net is much faster than placing phone calls or snail mail. But there are still things that you cannot do on the net and will never be able to do on the net, such as grocery shopping, having a sincere discussion with a friend or loved one, and much more. Yet, like this AOL/TW deal, businesses think that it CAN replace all that.

    What also bothers me about this is that companies are trying to define the way the internet works. Anyone else see those Nortel Network commercials "What do you want the Internet to be?" I'm sorry, but you nor a company nor a governement can define the purpose or behavior of the internet; it's a mass result of 6 billion people working together, and changes every single day. Sure, companies may try to map their little area of the network around to fit their goals, but there will always be anarchie and entropy on the internet. It's part of it's being.

    More and more I'm reminded of the cyberspace scenes as described by Gibson. On the virtual world of the internet we have these larger and larger blocks representing big companies; they merge and migrate, and look very dominating over everything else on the landscape. But there will always be space between said blocks, and that space is the true stuff of the net - freedom of individual thought.

    Now that I've finished going poetic...Some things that I don't worry about : Limited content: AOL already had this without TW's help. That part of the merger doesn't change anything as long as all other possible content that is non-AOL or TW remains untouched.

    The merger itself - I may have missed this, but this is all pending FTC approval, right? I have a feeling that there may resistance from the FTC *AND* shareholders in this. So nothing's written in stone yet.

  • by khaosworks ( 43380 ) on Monday January 10, 2000 @03:41AM (#1387807) Homepage
    I'll be seeing ads in TIME magazine telling me how to $$$GET!!!RICH!!!FAST!!!$$$?

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