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America Online

FTC Approves AOL+Time-Warner In USA 105

alumshubby writes "The Washington Post, undoubtedly among others, reports that the AOL & Time-Warner merger has gone through. Note that it was unianimous, and the FTC extracted a promise that the new behemoth would 'protect consumer choice.'" And, on the more amusing side check out this alternative coverage. On a more serious note, we've also got information from the FTC, and coverage from CNNfn, and ABCNews.
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FTC Approves AOL+Time-Warner In USA

Comments Filter:
  • Does this mean that AOL is going to start putting their ads right in the middle of a running show instead of waiting for commercials?

  • by Adler ( 131568 ) <exsuperhero@teen ... S.com minus city> on Thursday December 14, 2000 @09:37AM (#558744) Homepage Journal
    I know it's not over yet, but I fear the "quote" by Steve Case in the satire wire article, is the case, (pun intended) that some people believe that this is a good thing, let me tell you why I'm scared shitless. I had a Tech support job where I dealt with AOL and Time-Warners Roadrunner server daily, and almost everytime these people called, we sent them to AOL or Roadrunner tech support, and these customers are so brainwashed that after yelling at us that because thats all we ever do, blame it on Roadrunner or AOL. Well I'm sorry, but they are shit. I supported and on-line stock trading web site, and try explaining to these people that if they're concerned about their on-line security using AOL is probably not a good choice, and they always said something like "20 million AOL customers can't be wrong"

    So will it get better when you combine Americas #1 online service and #1 cable modem service? Well, at least AOL will not be able to auto disconnect it's broadband customers after so many minutes, my feeling is it's just going to deliver the same old shit and spam, at higher speeds. wahoo.

    Adler

  • One company (AOL-TW) will administer the network. They will run the cable, install the service, and (most likely) have the regional DHCP servers.

    Various ISP (including AOL-TW) will then purchase the rights to that network, slap on their own service and content, and sell it. (Such as e-mail, web servers, etc.)

    The phone system works the same way, and in NY NiMo (the old monopoly) now *only* does the power grid, leaving plants to various other companies.

    Eventually, we can expect AOL-TW to divide; smaller corporations have less overhead, which means bigger profits... assuming the market doesn't care.
  • The Economist has two interesting articles on the gamblings behind the AOL/TW strategy, and the similar situation of Vivendi, the other behemoth. In both cases, the real issue is "Is beting on convergence a smart bet?".

    On AOL-TW [economist.com]

    On Vivendi and convergence [economist.com]

  • the subnet might be manually done and the isp selected by the chosen subnet. or they could do what time warner does right now which is that you still have to take one of their addresses but upon login you are routed through your isp. makes static ips impossible. which they want anyway.
  • "It's the end of the world as we know it"

    ;-)

  • Take your lithium, dude.
  • Hating 2 companies is tiring- once they merge I can consolidate all my bitching against 1 company. Now, if only they would pick up BellSouth...
  • How long will it take before two powerful companies decide to merge, the FTC says they can't, and they say "Screw you, we'll merge anyways"?

    Didn't this just happen, although with a bit more PC phrasing?

    If Microsoft and the AOL/Time-Warner groups decided to become one big huge conglomerate... who would stop them?

    Ralph Nader... Seriously, though, the people will stop them. That is, if they haven't yet been properly brainwashed by the Microsoft-AOL-Time-Warner owned media.

    Would we hit the point of cyberpunk-fiction where they'd be hiring armed guards to keep FTC-led cops from shutting them down? Or would the FTC just cave in and admit it has no real power?

    Well, as the supreme court of the United States just ruled, people have no constitutional right to vote in America, so it would be much easier for them to just pay off the powers that be in the state legislature. Alternatively, pay off the FTC, pay off the U.S. congress, etc. Pay off, of course, doesn't have to be illegal. Even if soft money were illegal (which it's not), how hard do you think it is to overturn that law, or get the proper people to look the other way? No, when Microsoft merges with AOL-Time-Warner-Disney-Pepsi-CocaCola-Andover, the only ones needing the guns will be the citizens.
  • little. yellow. different.

    eudas
  • . . and though I thought Wayne's World was a wonderful piece of postmodern genius, I would rather eat fresh dog shit on a slice of toasted toe-cheeze, than a Pizza Hut Pizza. Pepsi's okay, I guess.
  • uni - one, unified
    anima - soul, heart

    I think it was just the FTC commending the compassion and work for the common good that both AOL and Time-Warner have done.


    ----
    I just LOVE people who can't tell when you're being sarcastic.


    ====
    All things in life are subjective. At least that's what I think.

  • Yup, questions. Ever heard of Godwin's Law [killfile.org]? You lost, thanks for playing, don't come again.
  • Promising to open up the Time Warner network--it's the same thing competing phone companies have wanted the incumbents (Bells) to do on phone networks since the 1984 break-up of AT&T. And the history of competition on local phone networks is atrocious. An incumbent has been certified as open to competition in only one state (New York) where the criteria is that the incumbent has to prove competition exists when it wants to offer long distance service. Even in New York, lots of competitors and public interest groups say there's still no true competition.

    What's going on after 16 years? The Bells just don't treat competitors' needs and requests as well as they treat the needs and requests of Bell staff. I certainly hope the future of open access on cable networks is better, but there are a lot of details and a lot of devils lurking in them.

  • ---
    but remember what happened when the Southern *states* did that after Lincon was elected? I doubt that even the largest corporations in the world could fare even as well.
    ---

    The way that is phrased it makes it sound as if the North walked all over the South. I doubt that is how you intended to come across.

    The American civil war was not one sided at all. The war was much more complex then that, and there was a good chance that the South could have won.

  • how do you know you haven't been shaped by marketing departments? let's think... coca cola? ford? marlboro? think again...

    eudas
  • The publishing industry got into a lot of trouble a few years back over this kind of thing. I don't remember the details or the outcome exactly. I think the industry lost though...

    Lee
  • The reason (some people would say "the feeble excuse") that the cable companies have been giving for not opening their networks is that they have to sink billions of $$ into upgrading the cable networks and building out new ones. I don't think that's a feeble excuse; they really need incentives to create the damn network in the first place. But given all kinds of financial and technical barriers to DSL, it may be worth taking away some incentive to investment on cable networks; hopefullly they'll build anyway and share the pot of gold.
  • by cpeterso ( 19082 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @11:33AM (#558761) Homepage
    Seriously, though, the people will stop them. That is, if they haven't yet been properly brainwashed by the Microsoft-AOL-Time-Warner owned media.

    You are forgetting the majority of Americans admire "the brilliant" Bill Gates and think the DOJ should back down against Microsoft. These same Americans also make AOL the largest ISP. "It's so easy to use, no wonder it's #1!"

  • There will be no public discussion of the monopolistic (as opposed to oligopolistic, which they've already got) power wielded by that beast of the apocolypse, because it will control all (save what, two? which will probably be owned by the same company by then, which would be unwilling to point out its own flaws in another entity, for fear of having the same thing done to it) mass-media outlets by which people could find out just how screwed up the situation is (at least, in numbers great enough to matter)

    Well, not in the US, anyhow.
  • Um, in case you forgot, the current President of the United States is Bill Clinton, not GW Bush.

    That's right. And not only is Bush not the president, he never will be the president. We haven't elected our next president yet. Our next Emperor, on the other hand, is GWBush.

  • How long will it take before two powerful companies decide to merge, the FTC says they can't, and they say "Screw you, we'll merge anyways"?

    My understanding, and IANAL, is that the FTC can't actually block the merger. What happens is if they decide against it and the two companies want to merge anyway, the FTC then brings some sort of anti-trust case against them in the courts.

    --Ty

  • Demeber 14th, 2067

    The last two remaining corporations worth mentioning, AOL-Time Warner-Republicrat Party-Pepsi-Disney-Proctor and Gamble, and Microsoft, will be merging to form a completely new megaconglomerate known as "GeneriCorp" which will strive to "protect consumer choice"...

  • Man, this reads like something from a newspaper in Simcity2000...
  • If there wasn't a chance, they wouldn't of ever tried the merger in the first place.

    Mergers get blocked all the time... like the big Worldcom - Sprint merger earlier this year. They certainly thought it'd go through, but government regulators (both U.S. and E.U.) didn't like the idea.

  • Note that it was unianimous, and the FTC extracted a promise that the new behemoth would 'protect consumer choice.'" And, on the more amusing side check out this alternative coverage.

    What could be more amusing than the notion that the new behemoth would care about protecting consumers?

  • FTC Approves AOL+Time-Warner In USA



    Is that AOL + Time - Warner, or AOL + "Time Warner" as opposed to AOL + (Time - Warner)?

  • you're wrong...

    ESPN was bought out by ABC... which is owned by Disney, which owns go.com


    tagline

  • They already do. It's called product placement, and companies pay big bucks to have their products seen during shows.

    There was a great scene in the movie Wayne's World where they mocked this practice, shamefully promoting several products within their movie. But it works--I remember the products were Pepsi and Pizza Hut.

    ---

  • Do you honestly believe they cant auto disconnect broadband? My ADSL service does it. It is not hard at all, even for cable.
  • It is a cool thought but it won't happen. The problem is that big corporations need the protection of the US government more than the government needs large corporations (as much as the government forgets that sometimes). Enforcable contracts, patents, trademarks, copyrights...these are all things that big business NEEDS a government to handle for them.

    My favorite part of Snow Crash is when those people buy a surplus aircraft carrier and cruise around the world completely independantly. With the current state of the broke Russian military and the number of dot com billionaires, I'm surprised that nobody's done it yet.

    -B
  • ConglomCo
    We Own You
    (with apologies to Rocko's Modern Life)
  • by mTor ( 18585 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @10:16AM (#558775)
    Flashback from JULY 27, 2000....

    MERGER MADNESS: TIMEWARNER HEAD WARNS OF 'AMERICAN CULTURAL IMPERIALISM'; SEES CORPORATIONS TAKING 'GOVERNMENT ROLES'

    AOL chief executive Steve Case and TIME WARNER chief executive Gerald Levin testified Thursday before a complete panel at the Federal Communications Commission.

    But it is candid comments made by Levin earlier this year during a media roundtable that have some lawmakers in Congress concerned that something is foul with the latest greatest media marriage.

    Levin recently warned in the post-Cold War era there is only "American cultural imperialism."

    "There's no countervailing force, that's a significant problem," declared the man who will become the most powerful media executive in history if the AOL/TIME WARNER merger is approved by federal regulators.

    Levin sees a future where major media corporations take on responsibilities currently administered by governments.

    "We're going to need to have these corporations redefined as instruments of public service because they have the resources, they have the reach, they have the skill base, and maybe there's a new generation coming up that wants to achieve meaning in that context and have an impact, and that may be a more efficient way to deal with society's problems than governments," predicted Levin.

    A summary of Levin's past comments circulated behind committee doors this week, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned, including Levin's belief that an "old-fashioned regulatory system" has to give way to a new "global concern."

    "It does appear that Mr. Levin has greater designs than simply running an entertainment conglomerate," said one Republican lawmaker, who would like to question Levin on his fellings about "American cultural imperialism."

    At the TIMEWARNER Global Forum gathering in Shanghai last year, Levin introduced China's Communist President President Jiang Zemin , calling him "my good friend ."

    Levin presented him with a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Levin, who refused to meet with human rights representatives, told vaunted visitors that Jiang can reel off the Gettysburg address from memory.

    But can Jiang - or Gerry, for that matter - recite Lincoln's reported letter to William F. Elkins, November 21, 1864?

    "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country...corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
  • If anyone was going to try and operate a business in blatant violation of Federal law, the first thing they'd do would be refuse to pay taxes. And taxation is something the State will enforce by whatever means necessary.
    --
  • In other news, the FTC also approved the merger of McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Everyone on Earth, and their dogs. One FTC spokesperson was quoted as saying, "The cats were just too much."
  • http://www.satirewire.com/news/0012/aol_whatever.s html
    "I hope that portraying Qwest as legitimate was part of their satire"

    Qwest is one of the largest spamhaus!
    Hosting such favorites as,

    Telodigm
    Master@gents
    EmpireTowers

    They (qwest) have no room to complain

    Listed @ http://www.spamhaus.org/
    http://www.spamhaus.org/statistics.lasso "Top of the list!"
    FSCK Qwest!

    "you may now resume your regularly scheduled program"
  • So this means, that Time Warner will start making (The) Extreme junk in the future.
    One way or another AOL has this unique "power" to turn everything in to sh***.

    Just take a look at Netscape 6 and you will understand what a hell am i' babbling about.
  • I have lots of links for this story here [geekissues.org]... Yes, cheap plug... :-)

    --

  • "Note that it was unianimous, and the FTC extracted a promise that the new behemoth would 'protect consumer choice.'" And then the fox assured the farmer that putting it in charge of the hen house was a Good Idea®.
  • Well, seeing as most large corporations such as Cisco and Microsoft don't pay taxes anyway, does that mean that the corporate revolution has begun?

    Dumbass.

  • The government will not have the power to regulate One Big Media Company.

    As unfortunate as it is, this is true. The Big Media Company will regulate the government instead, buying politicians and laws that are in its best interest.

    ---
    "Fdisk format reinstall, doo dah doo dah,
  • (exceedingly OT, but not posting AC because already above karma kap - mod away!)

    >Well, as the supreme court of the United States just ruled, people have no constitutional right
    to vote in America

    Sheesh. I'm not happy about the outcome of the election or the mangled process that transpired after 11/7 - but I would hardly say the SC ruled that 'mericans have no constitutional right to vote.

    What happened is they brought a merciful end to a hopeless process of challenge, appeal, suits and spins. Was the law upheld? Was the will of the 'majority' thwarted? Does it even matter which dickhead 'A' or dickhead 'B' becomes president?

    I don't have the answers to these questions. All I know is that what the US Supreme Court did didn't make any less sense than what the Fla SC was doing. Now it is over and we have a president with the IQ equivalent to a used wad of masking tape. I seriously doubt that recounting ballots up until 1/19/01 would have substantially changed that outcome.

    Can we please stop belly-aching about it now?
  • and in related news, the world will be ending late this month or early next year...

    Seriously, I've got chills. AOL is one of the great hypocrites of the internet...Open access for cable and DSL was their cry until the Time-Warner Deal came up, while all the while they kept their IM stuff closed (very much like how Microsoft cried fowl over the closed IM protocols and spewed all this garbage about suporting open standards, while keeping nearly everything about windows closed). AOL is profit driven and profit driven only. This is a horrible step backwards for open access and the "democratization of information" that the Internet is supposed to bring about.

    -----
    # cd /
  • ...And taxation is something the State will enforce by whatever means necessary. The State ultimately has a gun pointed at taypayers' heads, true, but corporations have one advantage that most individuals don't: the means to retain armies of tax lawyers and lobbyists to obtain loopholes and otherwise derail, deflect, and obfuscate means of collecting tax.
  • Wow, I stand corrected. Thank you for enlightening me.

    So they said individuals are not guaranteed by the US constitution that states must recognize their votes cast in a presidential election. The state has the power to name the slate of electors, it is up to them to empower individual citizens though state law to give them a say in the process?

    I guess not being a constitutional scholar, that still doesn't read to me as "people have no constitutional right to vote in America".

    No, I didn't read the rulings. Reminds me of what I saw on the Daily Show last night where a couple of reporters got copies of the court's opinions late the other night and were trying to skim through the 65 pages while live on the air to pick out the important statements. Funny as hell seeing the one guy come running up to the other and then the two of them muttering to themselves as they read the legalese.

  • Here is another article from the Toronto Star [thestar.com]

    ============

  • by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @08:47AM (#558789)
    I don't have my Latin dictionary handy. What's it mean? Something about single-cell life forms?
  • by Fjord ( 99230 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @08:43AM (#558790) Homepage Journal
    When I saw the title:
    FTC Approves AOL+Time-Warner In USA
    I took it to mean that AOL and Time can merge together, but have to get rid of Warner. Damn minus-as-dash.
  • The "alternative" story is already slashdotted... *Sigh* Poor satirewire...
  • anyone who has ever had an aol account knows all the spam porn offers you get. As long as you can protect/block the kids from it the FTC seems okay about that.
  • and friends will be my new companions on the Internet. Not that I dislike Bugs and Daffy, I just don't want to see them everytime I log on.
    ----------------------------------
  • FTC extracted a promise that the new behemoth would 'protect consumer choice.'

    Neither company has protected consumer choice on their own -- what makes anyone think they will now that they've merged?

  • After this behemoth swallows Disney, when can we expect the anti-trust and monopoly hounds go after it and slice it up into little bits?

    I just can't see this beast (even sans Disney) not go for long before being challenged again. I guess that will happen shortly after people are given AOL CDs at the door to movie theatres after purchasing their tickets...

  • So does this mean that when my Time magazine subscription arrives, an obnoxious voice is gonna yell "YOU'VE GOT MAIL" from my mailbox? I reeeaaaaaaaaalllllllly hope not =)
  • At least they took some steps to prevent a broadband monopoly. Now let's hope that they give a fair deal to the other ISPs. My main concern is that this will totally squeeze the small ISP players out of the market. They could easilly set barriers to entry so high that only EarthLink and a few others can afford to play. Did anyone else notice that the second and third paragraphs repeat in the Washington Post article, or os my browser screwing up?

  • by the real jeezus ( 246969 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @08:47AM (#558798)
    Pretty soon, we'll have only one corporation. Things will be so simple then!


    I'd rather be a unix freak than a freaky eunuch
  • by donglekey ( 124433 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @09:13AM (#558799) Homepage
    OK, I'll admit that I am karma whorin' a bit, but I think that I wrote a fairly good essay and someone might even like reading it. I wrote this essay for my final project in an english class. While it is not comprehensive, even in my own knowledge, and certainly a small fraction of what is really evil about huge companies it was written to give people who just didn't understand what the big deal was about having large corporations in charge. I wrote it with the average person in mind (dumbed down and not at slashdot level). I do think that is a fairly good essay to show people to give them a solid idea of why you feel anger towards large corporations (if you do) without having to write an essay yourself or give a speech to every person you want to tell. I know that some things might not be entirely accurate but I did try to cover all angles, so don't come down too hard on the mistakes. Also, if you ever wanted to know just how much the big record companies screw artists out of money check out This link [negativland.com] It is Steve Albini (producer of In Utero) talking about the manipulations of some recod companies. My point in this is that something like this WILL NOT help consumers, and is only used as a tool for further influence by large corporations. So anyway ...

    Large Media Corporations are Abusing Their Power By: Simeon Bassett

    The larger the corporation, the more collective influence they will have over their industry. There is a point in the rise of power of anything that can work as whole that the power becomes too great, and it is abused. It has happened in every society that has given power to a specific person or a group with similar motives. One example is the emperors of ancient China. One emperor, Quin Shihuangdi wanted himself to be remembered as the first emperor of China, and went on a crusade to erase anything from the past and to make China start over under his rule. He burned literature and destroyed libraries, reminiscent of the thought control portrayed in George Orwell's 1984. He originally wanted to have his personal army buried alive with him after his death to protect himself in the afterlife. This nightmarish example of tyranny seems to be almost cliché in history, but thought is not given seriously to the parallels of the present. The United States of America was founded so that people would have choices throughout their lives when dealing with their religious beliefs and any other elements that affect them. Branches of government were created to balance the power and create subtle conflict so that decisions are not made out of personal interest from a select few in power.

    The biggest culprits of corporate over-control and consumer neglect are the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). Sure, there are companies such as Microsoft, which is under scrutiny because of their monopolistic practices with their huge (90%) user base on desktop computers. Intel, which is out of hot water because of a recent rise of competition, took their time releasing incrementally faster microprocessors until they had someone to compete with (Advance Micro Devices). Cisco, who has a much-overlooked tendency to buy up competition before they turn into a threat, seems like the Microsoft of the networking world, but never seems to be under corporate pressure. All of these are examples of companies that have clearly abused their power in many instances, but they pale in comparison to the two giant alliances of media powers.

    To quote Jack Valenti, head of the MPAA, when talking about digital movies: "Our attorneys believe we need to pursue this very cautiously. Industry wide compacts where you sit down and say, `This is what seven or eight companies are going to do' - that's very dangerous ground." To say that this is hypocritical is something of an understatement. Seven giant companies acting collectively is, for the most part, what the MPAA is. It is an organization made up of the following major film companies: Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Universal Studios, Inc., and Warner Bros. Each one of these companies is a household name and together they make a massive monolith that has influence on almost everyone in the country. Unions of workers were created to give more power to the working class. A union of giants gives exponentially more power back to the titans of the corporate world. You can observe the control of the MPAA yourself by looking for their logo. Have you ever seen the symbol at the end of the credits of a movie with the oval shape, inner oval, and five dots in the middle? If you haven't, look for it and you'll find it - on almost every movie you see.

    While I won't go into everything the MPAA has done that crosses the line between business tactics and monopolistic practices, and I won't debate whether or not Ronald Regan was right in cutting the separation of the movie industry and movie theatre chains, I will go into one recent, blatant, and insulting event that has taken place at the hands of the MPAA.

    I say recent because the court decision in favor of the MPAA is still in the appeal process, blatant because hopefully it will be easy to see why this is such an extreme violation, and insulting because it flies in the face of the first amendment. A program written by Jon Johansen called DeCSS decrypts (unscrambles) the encoding that the MPAA has put onto all DVD movie discs (more on this later). He put the source code into the public domain, and not only was he attacked by the MPAA, but so were web sites that merely linked to places where the DeCSS source code could be acquired. Source code, which is text describing a program, can be read just as anything else can, and not jut by a computer. So why is it that it is not protected under free speech laws? The MPAA's answer would be that its primary purpose was the unauthorized copying of DVD discs. They maintained this stance throughout the trial even though they could not document one case of piracy due to the program. The intent as stated by the author and the users of the program was that they wanted to create their own DVD movie playing software so that they wouldn't be contained to using the software made by other companies, which is mostly sold commercially. It would enable them to watch the DVD movies they own on any computer they wanted to program for, not just ones sanctioned by the MPAA. This would actually increase the number of potential buyers of DVDs but the MPAA still came down hard. Even if the intent of the software was for copying DVD movies, it should still be considered free speech. If something can be sung in a song, or put on a t-shirt then clearly it can and should be treated as speech. In fact, both of these things were done, the song was taken down from mp3.com for "offensive lyrics" and the retailers of the t-shirts, copyleft.net, were given a subpoena by the MPAA. At least they're consistent.

    Even if you overlook all of atrocious logic of the MPAA, the fact still remains that they sued and won their case against 2600 magazine for merely providing a link to the source code of the program. This is the equivalent of one person telling another where to buy gasoline and getting blamed because that person could potentially use it to harm someone. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the judge presiding over the case, Judge Kaplan, is a former employee of the MPAA. How do they get away with all of this? Maybe it's the huge political involvement they have, from the parties thrown at Republican national conventions to the large amount of financial support for the Democratic Party.

    This isn't an isolated problem either; the RIAA is just as bad or worse than the MPAA. They're recent bought with digital music distribution methods like Napster, have been much publicized by the media, but the sheer legal aggression that they have shown in their battle to maintain their current revenue stream without increasing their quality of service, has been passed over for the most part. To quote the RIAA website directly: "RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States." Ninety percent control is a lot. Especially when it covers the entire industry. Microsoft has about a ninety percent control over the operating systems of desktop computers (the program that keeps everything running) with Windows, but a parallel example would be if they controlled ninety percent of all the software commercially sold. To be fair, the RIAA is composed of many more companies than the MPAA. Any record label that meets their requirements can apply. This should make everything fine as long as being a part of the group doesn't require monopolistic practices like price control. But it does. They even have an acronym for it - MAP. MAP stands for Minimum Advertised Price scheme. It says that no company can advertise CD's for below a certain price. Shouldn't the FCC step in and do something about this? They are, and it's about time. Deals have been struck out of court so that companies that don't agree with advertising for a certain price, like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Circuit City don't get angry. But now the FCC is finally stepping up and alleging that fixed pricing schemes have cost consumers $480 million.

    This is a typical pattern for the RIAA; they seem to want both ends of every deal. Another example would be that they receive royalties from any blank CD sold. This is supposedly to compensate for anticipated piracy, but the cost is spread around to everyone who buys CD-R discs, whether they use the blank CD's to copy and resell music or not. If I as a musician want to make music and distribute it recorded on CD-R discs, then I am not only paying the company that made the disk, I am paying the RIAA, my major competitor, with every CD I create. You would think that they would be satisfied, but they have still created large-scale efforts against supposed music piracy. I guess the compensation isn't enough.

    One such effort is the ongoing lawsuits against music distributors such as mp3.com and Napster. Napster has made no money at all from its efforts at the time of this writing and even though they distribute no music themselves, and the people that do distribute music do it with no money changing hands at any point, the RIAA still feels that they are a threat created through illegal means. Even more odd, is that Napster should technically be shielded by the Home Audio Recording Act of 1992, which states that any distribution of music that is not being sold by any standard is legal. It was meant to facilitate the copying of music between friends and such, and at the same time, compensate the RIAA with royalties from the mediums of choice. Now that there is no medium, as with network file sharing, there are no royalties and the piece of legislation that the RIAA personally created, lobbied for, and oversaw through congress, is now Napster's suit (pun intended) of armor, and what the RIAA is fighting against.

    Another battle being waged is over mp3.com. A service offered by mp3.com allowed people to listen to music they owned whenever they were at a computer connected to the Internet. This was seen as a violation of the RIAA's property and mp3.com was attacked in a lawsuit, which they lost, and which crippled the entire company. Now mp3.com must pay royalties on every song that is "owned" by the RIAA and that the service offers, which has forced them into charging fees for the users (the service was originally free). In the end people are paying more money to listen to songs they already own. Could all this tight control be that the RIAA is looking out for the interests of the artist? Not likely. Steve Albini, who produced Nirvana's "In Utero", stated in an essay that in a typical situation with a hot band the money is distributed as follows: Lawyer: $12,000, Agent: $7,500, Previous Label: $50,000, Studio: $52,000, Manager: 51,000, Producer: $90,000, Record Company: $710,000, Band member net income each: $4,031. That's a total of $976,531 that the band has made. It is unfortunate that each band member gets 00.41% of the money they create. Yes, less than half of a percent comes back to each band member.

    The RIAA and MPAA do not care about the consumer, or the artists that are making them rich. They have used tactics and business practices that go far beyond the limits of capitalism. As I have alluded to, there is much more to the story and many more instances of the RIAA, MPAA, and many other large companies flexing their corporate muscle to gain an unfair advantage in their industry, and to ultimately exploit consumers.


    Bibliography 1. Music retailers irked by CD discounting (2000). 5 Dec. 2000. http://www.cnn.com/2000/SHOWBIZ/Music/12/05/cds.re ut/index.html [cnn.com]

    2. Who we are (2000). href="http://www.riaa.com/About-Who.cfm [riaa.com]

    3. Cave, Damien. A hacker crackdown? (2000). 7 Aug. 2000 http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/08/07/yoink _napster/index.html [salon.com]

    4. Sabin, Rob. The Movie's Digital Future is in Sight and it Works (2000). 26 Nov. 2000 http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/26/arts/26SABI.html ?pagewanted=6 [nytimes.com]

    5. Albini, Steve. The Problem With Music. href="http://www.negativland.com/albini.html [negativland.com].

    6. Gross, Robin D. Court Uphold Right to Digital Music (1999). 29 June. 1999 href="http://www.mp3.com/news/283.html?lang=eng [mp3.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14, 2000 @08:52AM (#558800)
    Posting anonymously to not be a karma whore:

    NATION HAVING HARD TIME GIVING SHIT ABOUT AOL-TIME WARNER MERGER

    Largest Merger in Media History Seen as Historic, Revolutionary, Whatever

    DULLES, VA. (SatireWire.com) -- Continually bombarded by news that the AOL-Time Warner merger would create the world's first fully integrated media and communications company -- a potentially anti-competitive Goliath that could dominate broadband interactive services for decades -- the majority of Americans have no idea what I just wrote, and they don't care.

    "Intellectually, I know this merger is important. I hear about it all the time on the news, and all these business magazines and Web sites are always playing it up like the Second Coming, but really, who gives a shit?" said Tina Desmond, a 34-year-old patent clerk from Cleveland, Ohio.

    According to AOL chief executive Steve Case, everyone should give a... should care. "What we're talking about here is a revolution," Case insisted. "Our combined company will be the premier global company delivering branded information, entertainment and communications across rapidly converging media platforms and changing technology "

    "You know what I just heard?" countered 19-year-old University of Miami sophomore Bob Strock. "Blah blah fuckin' blah."

    Asked if it mattered if the merger is approved by the Federal Trade Commission, which is reportedly concerned about competitive access to Time Warner's cable transport facilities, Strock replied: "Go away."

    The realization that no one really cares about the merger irks competitors such as Qwest Communications, which is fighting the deal. Even analysts who cover the companies and like the merger have fared no better generating interest.

    "Every day I tell my wife, 'Honey, this new company will provide an important new broadband distribution platform for America Online's interactive services and drive subscriber growth through cross-marketing with Time Warner's pre-eminent brands,'" said IDG analyst Keith Sturgess. "And every day, she says 'Keith, shut up."

    Case added that a combined AOL-Time Warner will spur a new era of innovation and robust competition and something something market leverage something, but we lost interest.

    Copyright © 2000, SatireWire.

  • With Bush certain to be heading up the Executive Branch, is it any surprise? All the lights are green now... I think Gore would have let it happen, too, just not so easily.

    --

  • like BT is doing in england.By slowing down the access to broadband(thus controlling who has access or even who will get access to the new tech). So that everyone lags just a bit behind them in the broadband market???? xalion
  • What is worse, controlling the desktop environment or the media you see on it? I really think the future of our children will be shaped by the marketing departments of AOL if consolidation like this continues to happen. Thoughts? -A
  • by heinzkeinz ( 18262 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @09:22AM (#558804) Homepage
    It seems to me that this concentration of power will certainly lead to abuse. I had been hoping that the FTC would impose restrictions on this new behemoth, but that does not appear to be the case. You've all heard the arguments before, but no one expresses the need for dissent better than Noam Chomsky.

    From Noam Chomsky:

    "There's a general tendency for the whole system to move toward oligopoly, a small number of huge corporations which dominate one or another area and usually interact."* [alibi.com]

    "The current merger is ... a step towards restricting control over the global media system to an even narrower range of private power interests, relying -- as is often the case -- on publicly funded initiatives, ideas, development, provided to them as a gift without public consent, even awareness."* [cgms.org]

    A good Chomsky resource. [zmag.org]

    For those with a taste for the ironic, here's the transcript [zmag.org] of a chat with Prof. Chomsky in 1995 on AOL.

    For general corporate news, try http://www.corpwatch.org/ [corpwatch.org]

    Check out this [aclu.org] concern from the ACLU about the possibility of censorship as a result of this decision.
  • There was a great scene in the movie Wayne's World where they mocked this practice, shamefully promoting several products within their movie. But it works--I remember the products were Pepsi and Pizza Hut.

    Whilst Waynes World was a great movie in itself, the idea of mocking product placement predates it.

    Watch Return of The Killer Tomatoes and look for the Kung-Fu scene with all the advertising and tell me Mike Myers wasn't influenced by it...

  • How about the company in the "Dinosaurs" show?

    "Why? Because WeSaySo!"


    --Fesh

  • I think ESPN was owned by ABC, who got bought by Disney.
    Sports Illustrated is owned by AOLTW though.
  • From now on don't carry AOL CDs!!! They already have their distribution channels!!!

    That's my concern. Problem is, T-W is a *media* company. It does not matter if it adheres to the FTC promises, just a lethal dose of free advertising from all the T-W media can flood consumers into ignorance, rendering the FTC and its rules useless.
  • That approval was only the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). They still need approval from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Although this is probably the most important decision regarding the merger, it is not the only one that could inhibit it. Personally, I hope that either the FCC denies the merger, or the company gets hit with a big ass class action suit for fuqqing up some personal freedoms.


    -------
  • Wait, does that mean you actually use AOL as your Internet provider? You poor bastard... And you're complaining about cartoon characters?!?

    --

  • What exactly is "AOL's fscked-up stance on Instant Messaging"? That they won't sit back and watch while Microsoft steals their users away?
  • RE: Would we hit the point of cyberpunk-fiction where they'd be hiring armed guards to keep FTC-led cops from shutting them down? Or would the FTC just cave in and admit it has no real power?...

    Then you get into the situation of Microsoft/AOL/TIME/Warner building replicants to battle the FTC's ED-209s. Don't even start on the terminators/time travel crap. -Miguel

  • With Bush certain to be heading up the Executive Branch, is it any surprise? All the lights are green now... I think Gore would have let it happen, too, just not so easily.

    Um, in case you forgot, the current President of the United States is Bill Clinton, not GW Bush.

    --

  • Why would you expect the FCC (the beaureacracy that allowed 2 or 3 companies to buy up all of the radio stations in our country) to not approve this merger?
  • Nader wanted to tax the things he didn't like.

    Hitler wanted to kill the things he didn't like.

    Any Questions?

  • Really, love 'em or hate 'em, this is a goddamn long time for them to have to wait. Why not just automatically approve them and then split them up if it starts looking like a problem? I suppose the problem with that is that as Microsoft is demonstrating, it takes the courts even LONGER to break companies up.

    I know they want to be careful, but I think most of us could come up with a fairly well educated opinion in a matter of hours. In a matter of days, we'd be able to come up with a perfectly reasonable final decision. The months that they've been taking is simply absurd.

    As a side note, it looks like the Washington Post is taking lessons from Slashdot in journalism. Note the repetition of the second and third paragraphs.

  • Perhaps you are correct about your first statement, but your second statement is a bit of a stretch. It's clear that AOL wants to be a content provider, not a service provider, the difference being that content is stuff like news, while service is access to stuff like news. So perhaps they'll give you AOL for "free" to coax people to broadband, but I don't see it being required for use.
  • Demeber 15th, 2067

    I'm moving to Europe!
  • AOL's fscked-up stance on Instant Messaging

    What exactly is this? "We run AOL Instant Messenger servers which accept connections from only authenticated AOL Instant Messenger clients"? If that's bad, then I guess Quake3 servers are pretty bad too.
  • "...the new behemoth would 'protect consumer choice'"

    AOL-Time-Warners choice list
    1. Use our cable and our ISP $40+$20=$60
    2. Use our cable and their ISP $60+?=?
    The choice is yours...
  • by Keith Russell ( 4440 ) <keith.russell@gm a i l . com> on Thursday December 14, 2000 @08:54AM (#558821) Journal
    FTC approval is not the final step. The FCC still has to approve the merger. They traditionally wait for the FTC and/or DOJ to make their ruling(s) first.

    The FCC still has issues with content/distribution and AOL's fscked-up stance on Instant Messaging. Plus, the FCC's mandate also dictates that they must act "in the public interest". Not that they've done that in the past, but....

    We're not scare-mongering/This is really happening - Radiohead
  • Great stuff. Now, there are a few million people who are trapped inside AOL's portal, watch CNN and read Time magazine, and thinking they're informed...
  • Was anyone really expecting this not to go through? If there wasn't a chance, they wouldn't of ever tried the merger in the first place.

    I like how the article says "The commission voted 5-0 to approve the deal, even though some members had earlier expressed concerns about its competitive impact on consumers" ... It's a good cause for concern. *Someone* needs to keep their eyes on this for sure.
  • by MojiDoji ( 254291 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @08:57AM (#558824)
    700 Free hours of cable every month! Too bad Time-Warner doesn't do long distance.

  • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Thursday December 14, 2000 @09:23AM (#558825) Homepage
    As Ralph Nader would say, the federal government consists of people handing out more and more to the major corporations, and stomping all over consumers' rights. It is really a shame that we have evolved into a government of the corporations, and not a government of the people.

    Major corporate mergers like this one should be seriously challenged. Instead, once a REPUBLICAN goes into office, the merger goes through unanimously. I don't think it would have taken too much longer had Gore been president-elect, though.

    Another Naderism "The only difference between Gore and Bush is how fast their knees hit the floor when big business walks in the room."
  • You may watch Bugs & Daffy, or if, you'd rather, you may watch the Matrix.

    You can use AOL on our broadband sytem, or you can pay more to use another provider.

  • I'm well aware of them. Perhaps you should check the dates on those cases and realize that's all ancient history in this dawn of neo-feudalism. Let's see how soon the antitrust laws go away.

    The largest corporations make the laws and select their puppet politicians [thesmokinggun.com], at least here in America.


    I'd rather be a unix freak than a freaky eunuch
  • Won't somebody PLEEEAASE think of the children!
  • Actually, according the the FTC, the merged company would have to "... give the non-affiliated ISPs an opportunity to opt in to the same rates and terms secured by AOL in the cable company agreement."

    --

  • by InfinityWpi ( 175421 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @09:27AM (#558830)
    How long will it take before two powerful companies decide to merge, the FTC says they can't, and they say "Screw you, we'll merge anyways"? If Microsoft and the AOL/Time-Warner groups decided to become one big huge conglomerate... who would stop them? Would we hit the point of cyberpunk-fiction where they'd be hiring armed guards to keep FTC-led cops from shutting them down? Or would the FTC just cave in and admit it has no real power?

  • AOL+TimeWarner to world:

    Get ready, bend over...
    If you see, hear, or read anything, we make money!

    .sig=me
  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @09:29AM (#558832)
    Around noon, when I was having lunch with my wife, this came up on the radio (the FTC approval) right after the vote. Her first words were, "Great, now we can see Bugs Bunny using AOL in cartoons. I hope they show the computer catch fire..."

  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @09:31AM (#558833) Homepage Journal
    You can't protect consumer choice by extracting half-hearted "promises" from executive types. Come on, these people give lawyers a run for their money in the scumbag department. It will be interesting to see just how quickly they violate the spirit of those promises if not letter of them.

    The only way to protect consumer choice is by promoting competition.

    Lee Reynolds
  • I don't mind an AOL CD sitting on Drew Carey's coffee table. It's really annoying when the bottom half of the screen is overlaid with a Time Warner RoadRunner advertisement while the show is running. And I don't even have Time Warner cable! That's way beyond product placement.

    Oh, any you forgot about Doritos.

  • The FTC is a bureau of the federal government, working in an domain to legislate, judicate, and execute the rule of law for the public good, as empowered by Congress and the President.

    A US corporation atttempting to bear arms agaisnt the FTC would be committing treason, and thus inviting an appropriate response--all the way up to a real military response.

    This won't ever happen, though, for one simple reason--no matter what happens, or where someone goes, an international corporation cannot survive if it cannot deal in the United States and those countries that recognize our rule of law.

    Sure, you might be able to rally and declare indipendance from America--but remember what happened when the Southern *states* did that after Lincon was elected? I doubt that even the largest corporations in the world could fare even as well.
  • Anyone else find that a little odd? Largest merger in history.. yet as of 2:30, AOL (AOL) is trading +1.25(2.58%) , and Time-Warner (TWX) is trading +1.87(2.58%). Even more odd.. the percentage of change is the same.. all the way to the hundredths place. EEERRRIIE!

    -gerbik
  • Good essay. BTW with respect to Minimum Advertised Price, both Micro$oft and Adobe have MAPs, as evidenced by a few local shops who cannot advertise their everyday prices on M$ and Adobe products.

    Two well-known "premium" dog food companies (that I know of) also have MAPs. Wonder what other industries have 'em, and to what degree each industry is thereby hurting consumers??

    Good topic for your next essay :)

  • Actually, having read the full transcript of the ruling, that is exactly what the USSC said:

    The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College. U. S. Const., Art. II, 1. This is the source for the statement in McPherson v. Blacker , 146 U. S. 1, 35 (1892), that the State legislature's power to select the manner for appointing electors is plenary; it may, if it so chooses, select the electors itself, which indeed was the manner used by State legislatures in several States for many years after the Framing of our Constitution. Id., at 28-33. History has now favored the voter, and in each of the several States the citizens themselves vote for Presidential electors. When the state legislature vests the right to vote for President in its people, the right to vote as the legislature has prescribed is fundamental; and one source of its fundamental nature lies in the equal weight accorded to each vote and the equal dignity owed to each voter. The State, of course, after granting the franchise in the special context of Article II, can take back the power to appoint electors. See id., at 35 ("[T]here is no doubt of the right of the legislature to resume the power at any time, for it can neither be taken away nor abdicated") (quoting S. Rep. No. 395, 43d Cong., 1st Sess.).

    Further, the previous supreme court ruling stated that any Florida Constitutional right to vote is unenforcable, because the right to vote lies in the Legislative branch, not the Judicial branch. I'm not going to bother finding the quote, because you have obviously not read either ruling.
  • Too late. Microsoft bought out the EU in 2045.
    --
    Obfuscated e-mail addresses won't stop sadistic 12-year-old ACs.
  • This is a real worry. Note, however, that supporting small ISPs is difficult: Covad, for example, is losing lots of money [mercurycenter.com] because small ISPs don't pay their bills. So wholesale service must be made available to all (and I don't know what the ruling requires here, I admit) but the small ISPs do need to be creditworthy, not just VC funded startups with no plan to make a buck.
  • I still had the page in cashe - I mirrored it over at http://johncglass.com/mirror/satireaol.htm [johncglass.com]

    Enjoy

  • Then, we are all going to wonder what you americans bitched so much about about the russians during the cold war...

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.

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