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The Almighty Buck

AOL Time Warner Netscape CNN... and AT&T? 385

Baldrson noted a bit running on Yahoo right now where the AOL, Time, Warner, Netscape, CNN mega corporation is in talks with AT&T for their cable network. The inevitable and scary consolidation continues ever onward. The US govt will be sold on eBay in a few years, but only Microsoft and the corporation formerly known as Netscape AOL Warner CNN AT&T Time (NAWCAT) will be left to bid. But since Nawcat will already own ebay, there will no doubt be rumors of unfair play.
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AOL Time Warner Netscape CNN... and AT&T?

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  • Road Runner Users (Score:2, Interesting)

    by flewp ( 458359 )
    Any ideas how this might affect Road Runner users? (Cable service from Time Warner)
    • Some RR people are already effectid. A fiew weeks ago our RR started using ATT service, Which ment my system takes longer to route DNS requests and Ocasionallys drops them. I am not a fan of ATT I never saw good ISP service from them. In college they switched to ATT and my Internet connection just stank IT is amazing how big of a traceroute I get now. ATT and RR means less performance for RR
    • I thought I read something about this months ago. And, well, my only choice is Road Runner. Anyone know when I may 'select' my cable modem provider?
      • Are you unhappy with RR? I move around a lot, so I've had everything from 64k ISDN, 128k ISDN, DSL, @home, and now Road Runner.

        Road Runner is the best by far. Maybe it's just this area, but I have only had one problem in the last 8 months since I moved here, and that was only for about an hour.

        Speed is consistantly fast, I can connect to my machine to do anything I want from the outside, and news groups just fly.

        A guy I work with (a non-tech) was aking if he should switch from dial-up to cable.

        He said, "I bet you can download a lot of dirty pictures over cable."

        I responded, "I don't download dirty pictures anymore."

        He looked a bit confused and asked, "Really?"

        I said, "No, now I download dirty MOVIES!"

        He ordered it that afternoon.
    • Re:Road Runner Users (Score:5, Informative)

      by naChoZ ( 61273 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:22AM (#2273139) Homepage Journal
      I work for RR and I'd like to know how it's going to affect us too... ;)

      Seriously though, the fcc is mandating that RR open up the pipes for other ISP's to offer cable modem service. First on the list, Earthlink. 15 seconds (yes, it's in the court order, 15 seconds) after Earthlink gets their 1st cable modem subscriber, AOL is allowed to start offering their service via cable modem.

      Pain in the ass for us because we've had to do a whole lot of work on the back-end systems and provisioning stuff so that they can be provisioned according to which ISP they're subscribing.

      This stuff with AT&T is a little confusing because after AT&T bought MediaOne, they were ordered to divest of all their shares of RR, which they did. AT&T in the Boston area is still using the RR brand itself, but they actually aren't an RR affiliate any longer. They'll be discontinuing their use of the RR brand sometime soon, I'm told.

      I do know that AT&T was really impressed with the way RR did business. Their @home offering is just ridiculous compared to RR. They thought they could just have this big cable modem operation by bringing in a bunch of 3rd party vendors to build the shit, drop it in place and it would just run... NOT. When they saw how RR does things, I think they realized how aweful their operation was. I even heard that @home was giving customers static ip addresses in some divisions (don't know if this is still the cast)... While that may sound attractive to end users who want to run servers, what they don't realize is that it pretty much prevents growth. When utilization in a particular area grows, you need to be able to split the area up, which requires an ip renumber. If you can't renumber because everyone has a static, pretty soon the area is going to get horribly oversold resulting in super-slow access.

      So, as far as how it affects RR users, it shouldn't, really. I suspect RR is just going to be another service offering, so it will be one of your choices of ISP's, pretty much. The worst case basis is that RR simply becomes a delivery vehicle for aol... *%!$ that noise...

  • CNN (Score:3, Flamebait)

    by THB ( 61664 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @08:30AM (#2272767)
    CNN is a news channel owned by the Time Warner, and now the part of the Time Warner AOL company, their name is not part of either companies name.

    This also isn't a merger so much as it is one large company buying a share of the assets of another. The rest of AT&Ts opperations would be seperate.
    • +5 for this?!? (Score:2, Flamebait)

      CNN is a news channel owned by the Time Warner, and now the part of the Time Warner AOL company, their name is not part of either companies name.

      Neither is Netscape which is also a subsidiary and isn't part of their name either. I thought it was quite obvious that the name was a joke and they main point of it was to show how big AOL Time Warner is getting.

      This also isn't a merger so much as it is one large company buying a share of the assets of another. The rest of AT&Ts opperations would be seperate.

      Exactly where is it mentioned that this is a merger? It is mentioned in the Slashdot blurb as well as the linked article that AOL is attempting to buy AT&T's cable network. The slashdot blurb jokes that at the current rate AOL Time Warner will soon own everything except for Microsoft.

      I am completely stunned by the fact that not only could you post a comment that implies you don't get what are obvious exagerrations used in a humorous context but the fact that your post is at +5 indicates that a bunch of slashdotters don't either.
    • Histarical chect pounding aside, AT&Ts broadband unit has been it a hurt for a long time. It's not suprising that AOL Time-Warner is considering this purchase.

      As for weather it's good for consumers: well, market forces have acted to consolidate ISPs throughout the world. This isn't just a U.S. phenomenon. Perhaps the minimum efficient scale of this kind of service is similar to that of telephone service (vary large). We've learned from the past 100 years that regulation of monopolies isn't *always* a good thing. There are certain natural monopolies in free markets. We have seen this in telephone service, where we tried to regulate a natural monopoly out of existance, then after those regulations were eliminated - at a time when there were several large competitors in the market - a consolidation took place, not because of anti-competitive practices of one player, but because it was more efficient to do business on a larger scale than any on the indevidual players were able to do in their form at that time.

      The same might be said of the internet access market. Given the bariers to entry, (exhorbinnet infastructure cost, support costs, etc.) it might be more cost effective to operate on a vary large scale, rather than have many small competitors in the merket. Just look to the DSL service provider market for evidence of this. Independant DSL service providers have been going under right left and center. This is not because of anti-competitive practices, or pricing; it's because they weren't able to cost effectively manage infastructure and support. Perhaps this market is simply a natural monopoly and the free markets are moving to increase efficiency.

      Or onthe other hand, it could be a massive conspiracy... which I grant you would make for a better story, but just isn't true.

      • Well, the main problem with the cable industry is that building it out in the 70s and 80s proved to be a very expensive proposition. Smaller companies financed it with junk bonds and so on, and when they found that adoption rates were lower than expected, they sold out to bigger fish, who sold out to bigger fish. And so on, until AT+T and TimeWarner and a couple others ended up holding the bag of lots of customers and lots of debt (AT+T is billions in the hole).

        AT+T's theory was that they were the bluest of the blue chips and they would be able to carry all that debt without a problem. When the dotcom bubble deflated, it turned out they were very wrong.

        Cable Internet is probably not a super-profitable business, but it does get the TV subscription rates up. And once you have 'digital cable' installed, you are more likely to do the things that make them the real money -- premium channels, PPV, etc. (And eventually local telephone services, maybe.)

        The upshot is that it you are probably right -- it will take very large diversified companies to effectively pay off the infrastructure costs without being swamped. The real moral of the story is that running a wire into everyone's house for a luxury service is a bad idea -- which is why you'll never see fiber-to-the-curb. Expect the next great build-outs to wireless only.
  • you forgot yahoo! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sehryan ( 412731 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @08:31AM (#2272769)
    don't forget the fact that aol is foaming at the mouth for Yahoo! Check it: s? []

    Forget Microsoft. Fear AOL.
  • does this mean we'll get a 30 day trial AOL phone as well as CD?
  • The law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fons ( 190526 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @08:32AM (#2272773) Homepage

    Laws against monopolies are great, but if nobody bothers to enforce them, they are USELESS.

    Would somebody please explain this to governments around the world? One day the companies will be TOO BIG to enforce anything upon! If one company owns, say 75% of the media, they can make AND break poloticians because this company OWNS the public opnion (sad but true).
    • Re:The law (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shivetya ( 243324 )
      // Would somebody please explain this to governments around the world? One day the companies will be TOO BIG to enforce anything upon! //

      Not true, governments have guns. I doubt seriously any business is going to be able to fight that.

      Plus wonderful countries like Brazil and South Africa are starting the horrendous trend of taking property and intellectual rights from corporations. They usually use the phrase "for the good of the people" but it simply proves business are subject to governments.

      • Re:The law (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @09:31AM (#2272914)

        Not true, governments have guns. I doubt seriously any business is going to be able to fight that.

        Why would business need guns when it can manipulate governments into using guns for them? It's not like this doesn't happen already (and hasn't been happening for at least decades).

        Plus wonderful countries like Brazil and South Africa are starting the horrendous trend of taking property and intellectual rights from corporations.

        "Taking them", or taking them back? In any case, that's not exactly "starting the ... trend". (a) It's not something new and (b) there's actually less of that than there is of the reverse.

        You've heard of "privatization", right? That's where a corporation takes over a government function, and proves that they're at least as good at running a bureaucracy as a government is, and even better at making sure as few benefits as possible get to the people who pay for them.

        Governments? Corporations? Two sides of same intentionally-devalued coin. A pox on both their houses.
        • Re:The law (Score:2, Informative)

          by mrseth ( 69273 )
          This has actually happened. The US overthrew the democratically elected gov't in Guatemala in the 40's to save the United Fruit Company. They installed a puppet dictator. So much for the crap about spreading democracy...

 .h tml
      • Plus wonderful countries like Brazil and South Africa are starting the horrendous trend of taking property and intellectual rights from corporations.

        Intellectual property is to property as fools gold is to gold. I am under no obligation to *not* use the information that I know - and certainly not in the face of my dying countrymen. You have got to be kidding - moreover, you must also believe the BULLSHIT sold to you about R&D by BigPharm - they spend FAR AND AWAY more money on marketing than they do R&D.. a great deal of that is to win mindshare of opinions like yours. What they do spend on R&D is subsidized by grants and tax breaks.

        They usually use the phrase "for the good of the people" but it simply proves business are subject to governments.

        You must be American - unlike America, the rest of the world's communities like to share with one another. Its simple. "Good for the people" means "Taking from the Rich" in America, where "sharing" is unknown. It really is that fucking simple. You know, we all live a more stable, secure, enriched, rewarding, fruitful, happy life if we think about our communities instead of ourselves for a minute - cynics will say it is naive - but unless you stop foaming at the mouth, bearing down with all your might to exploit at every opportunity, no one else will either... and you'll be force to live in a community of rabid, hysterical chaos of thieves (capitalists), cheats(corrupt-republicrat-plutocratic-politicians ) and liars (marketers). You want to learn about happy mediums? Think Switzerland, Denmark, France, Canada(of 20 years ago).

        you really dont have to look much further than Modern America(TM). The RIAA/MPAA/Microsoft/NAWCAT/BigThree/BigPharm/Repub licrats etc are really a product of this community - they live on this attitude. The 'good of all' does always outweigh the 'good of the few'. That is the definition of community and democracy. All people have a right to direct the economy - via there democratic rights - not solely by the 'vote with your dollars' fantasy - which serves the master(capitalist)/slave(consumer) paradigm well.

        If you disagree, I have a lovely Church/King/Fascist/Plutocratic(present america?)/Military run system Id like to discuss with you... we'll then let *you* pick.

        • "Good for the people" means "Taking from the Rich" in America, where "sharing" is unknown.

          There are other, more effective, forms of "sharing" than massive government programs funded by forcible confiscation of wealth. You might want to examine this report [], which states that Americans donate to charity much more generously than do Canadians. Note particularly the conclusion that "those who have more, give more".

          The 'good of all' does always outweigh the 'good of the few'. That is the definition of community and democracy.

          No, that is the definition of tyranny. When 51% of the voters can deprive the other 49% of their life, liberty, or property, you do not have a free country.

      • You have to be silly to think that humonguous companies have morals. The only moral and only rule is to make money. If it takes killing a few, who cares, especially if it's in a far away country. You have to increase your profit or you suck and die. Read this about Coca-Cola [] and browse through this google search []. Being an unionist (trade unions) is one of the most dangerous "pastimes" on Earth. And if you think it doesn't happen in the "Civilized" world - think again [].
    • Re:The law (Score:2, Informative)

      by crazy blade ( 519548 )
      Kind of reminds me of the situation in Italy, where their prime-minister is a business man owning the most popular private Italian media networks. He got flamed a lot for this by the European press, during the last Italian elections. Now that he won and is the prime-minister of Italy, he is also in control of the goverment television networks (RAI). Can you imagine the CEO of NAWCAT being the president of the USA?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      against monopolies. In and of itself, monopolies are not illegal. Iit's only when you abuse that monopoly power that it's against the law.
      • against monopolies. In and of itself, monopolies are not illegal

        Well, if this is the case, Id like to stand up and suggest that they *should be*. I have no interest in being a servant to monopolies - nor do I have interest in being a martyr (like living in the bush without electricity to avoid the power company).

        Most people would agree - and guess what, in a democracy, people make the laws of the land... even those that affect the economy (*gasp*). I suggest when a market doesn't have fair competition it should:

        A) be 'bought' by the government and offered as a non-profit public service (because the free-market 'advantages' are not at work.. and they are the purpose of this whole capitalism thing (as far as the citizens are concerned))

        B) be broken into competing business to encourage/stimulate competition, price movements, innovation.

        People have been so polluted by corporate-speak media that they actually feel it is not 'right' to enact law that might effect the economy - free markets rule today - and democracy can take a back seat... "Power" should exist in no entity that is not democratically* elected.

        Bollocks to that mess: see here friends []

        *as in 'real' democracy, not the circus of smoke and mirrors that the Plutocrats of USofAmerica organize every couple years...

        • Most people would agree - and guess what, in a democracy, people make the laws of the land... even those that affect the economy (*gasp*).
          That's why I'm glad America is a republic, not a democracy. Democracy means 51% of people have absolute power and the other 49% have no rights whatsoever. The Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Amendments to the Constitution have unfortunately taken us closer to mob rule. I leave the Eighteenth (Prohibition) in there even though it's been repealed because it's a perfect example of how a scared majority can impose their will on the minority and make life worse for everyone - exactly like today's drug prohibition.
    • Re:The law (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ffoiii ( 226358 )
      1. Even if one company did own 75% of the media, watch/read/listen to the other 25%.

      2. Why are laws against monopolies good? Do you have any support/reasoning/justification, or is this an example of you regurgitating what the "mainstream media" says without any independent thought? Most companies obtain monopoly status by being the best at what they do. This obviously does not apply to telecom/cable/etc. as they were setup by the government to run as monopolies in order to make it cost effective at the time. Personally, I'd have rather waited a little longer for someone to figure out a way to reduce the sunk costs of building such a system, apply it in the market and make a profit.

      3. Have you considered subscribing to "alternative" publications so that you might obtain a different point of view? Maybe you should even read something that you violently disagree with? This can help give you perspective and understanding that there are often people with views different than your own with their well considered set of reasons and justifications.

      4. Fight fire with fire. Buy AOL-TimeWarner. Or more reasonably, buy a share of AOL-Time Warner, stand up at the annual shareholder's meeting, state your opinion and wage a proxy war against the company.

      • 1. Even if one company did own 75% of the media, watch/read/listen to the other 25%.

        And if the other 25% is all owned by Giant Company #2?
    • Those damn Europeans will be litting companies like GE and Honeywell merge.
    • Would somebody please explain this to governments around the world? One day the companies will be TOO BIG to enforce anything upon! If one company owns, say 75% of the media, they can make AND break politicians because this company OWNS the public opinion (sad but true).


      When you dominate public opinion, when you are the SOLE arbiter of public discourse, you set the frame of debate, you define all the 'truisms' and allow your 'pundits' to repeat the same unimportant facets of a story over and over and over and over until there is no overcoming the apathy that has been built into the public psyche w/ regards to your issue-du-jour.

      I am overwhelmed by the sheer lack of public awareness of all things around them. People have such a shallow understanding of the issues presented to them in the 'Television News' that I am astounded that no one questions its validity - so few people are upset that the media dosnt discuss the GROWING concern of media concentration, plutocratic/corrupt government, American militarism (and how it is used as a tool by American Business), the deafening silence about ECHELON in the USA (surprise! Surprise! Secret industrial-espionage system is being hushed-up by those who wield/benefit from it!), the lack of REAL political debate (republican/democrat domination of politics in america for the last 150 years - that situation is TRULY astonishing, has no one had a good-idea in the last 150 years or have they simply been marginalized by colluding business partners/politicians(really the same thing..)).

      Am i paranoid? No. Am i a radical? Yes. The status-quo is building up methods to maintain its domination (allowing mega-super-mergers of this nature) in the face of growing discontent and mistrust. The government - under the direction of the powerful/rich - are not paying attention to the fact that the people are dissatisfied with the present state. People KNOW that the US government is BOUGHT AND PAID-FOR , there is no opposing voice because the 5th Estate (media) is now a mouth piece for said establishment.

      In the 60's people raged in the streets, opposing the McCarthy-Inspired aggression in Vietnam && systemic racism.. those people *did* manage to create change - but fell sadly short of a lot of their goals, which was to change the structure from preventing these abuses in future... now weve come again to a place where people - The Anti-Capitalists who now Rage in the Streets [] - demand change in the face of unjust politics. Join them. Support them. Defend their ideals - these people (myself) included want a democracy restored - freed of capitalist domination of All Things.

      There was a time (pre-Regan) where there were effectual regulation that prevented this kind of stifling 'oneness' of voice powered by moneyed-interests in the media - those days are gone... if the Americans dont want to live in a terrifying future of numbness and malaise ala the worst of Fahrenheit 451, I suggest *you* do something about your government.

      I hope to hell you do - because the "american empire" is real and powerful, it dosnt so much prove the 'rightness' of your 'system' as it shows, like every empire before it, that history and circumstance makes interesting times - it is truly funny that a people who claim to be the height of democracy and 'open-ness' can really be at the fore-front of this modern delusion. What you are witnessing people, is a very important time in history - people will either look back at this time as an era where people *finally* woke up to discover the Capitalist, King or Church always enslave or a great sleep enters the people as there kept fat, happy and stupid (think bread and circuses)... a dystopian dark age... I sincerely hope its the former.

    • Oh, you've visited Canada recently?

      Politicians here don't fear pissing off CEOs as much as they fear pissing off reporters. Witness the media versus Brian Mulroney.
  • 40% Stake (Score:3, Informative)

    by sourcehunter ( 233036 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @08:34AM (#2272780) Homepage
    According to the article:
    "Citing ``people familiar with the situation,'' the paper said AOL would hold a 40 percent interest in the business and leave AT&T with the majority control it wants.

    So AOL/TW won't get the entire AT&T cable market, just part of it.

    Yet another reason I use ADSL.

    • Re:40% Stake (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Root Down ( 208740 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @09:14AM (#2272865) Homepage
      So AOL/TW won't get the entire AT&T cable market, just part of it.

      Yes, but in a publicly owned company, percentage share IS ownership. The outright monopoly is naturally 51%, but 40% is pretty much running the show.

    • by PaxTech ( 103481 )
      Yet another reason I use ADSL.

      Plenty of us on cable modems used be on xDSL, before the DSL companies started dropping like flies.

      After two providers died without warning, and my account was sold to different ISPs a couple of times, I decided on cable because cable companies have apparently figured out that you need to MAKE money in order to stay in business.

      Don't get me wrong, I'd certainly rather have DSL, but I need reliability above all. If and when I ever get DSL again, I'll be keeping the cable modem as well as a backup.

  • Life imitates art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MegaFur ( 79453 ) <wyrd0 AT komy DOT zzn DOT com> on Monday September 10, 2001 @08:38AM (#2272785) Journal
    You know my parents tell me that back when they were young, they used to read a lot more science fiction than they do now.

    Why'd they stop? 'Cause all the "dark future" stuff they read about kept coming true! Reality TV, Corporate owned gov'ments, cameras in your toliet...Gee, I guess we really do live in interesting [] times.

    It's a Brave New 1984.

  • In the USA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by awerg ( 201320 )
    In the USA...

    AOL is the internet (to most people)
    Time/Warner is entertainment (to most people)
    CNN is news (to most people)
    Netscape is the browser (or used to be...)
    ATT is long-distance phone service (to most people)


    Why not buy Microsoft (they are computing to most people)
    • Netscape hasn't been the predominant browser in ages. According to StatMarket [], IE was being used for 86% of all web traffic, compared to about 14% for Netscape. This statistic was released on 6/26/2000: since there's been no major release of Netscape since then, I think it's fair to guess that their numbers haven't increased much.
      • There's been no major netscape release since june 2000? Excuse me?

        Netscape 6.1 (released last month) is effectively the *first* release of the new, mozilla-based, rewritten from scratch, standards compliant, stable, fast, skinnable, netscape browser.

        You can argue about "fast" (depends on your computer - it flies on mine) and it's certainly not "lean and mean" but it certainly counts as a major release.

        I say "effectively the first" because 6.0 was, by all accounts, a complete disaster. While Netscape's official corporate position is still "it was the right product at the right time", even their own developers unofficially admit that this is only because they had to release *something* before they became completely irrelevant. 6.1 is what 6.0 should have been.

        Now, I don't know whether their market share has increased due to 6.1 or not (ime 6.0 caused such a backlash that a lot of people are simply not willing to give 6.1 a chance, and those are by definition the people that were willing to give netscape a chance a year ago) but it's simply not true to claim that there hasn't been a major netscape release since june of last year. 6.1 is imho the most significant netscape release since 4.5 (which was the equivalent point in the 4.x series - previous 4.xs sucked in the same way 6.0 did, 4.5 was the first decent release)
        • I say "effectively the first" because 6.0 was, by all accounts, a complete disaster.

          No offense or anything, but what the hell is this supposed to mean? 6.0 sucked, so you're just gonna pretend it didn't happen?

          When I say "major release", I'm referring to version number - that's why they're called "major" and "minor" numbers. I don't consider 6.1 to be a major release, as many bugs as it may have fixed, for the same reason that I don't consider IE 5.5 a major release. If Netscape had sat on their hands until the 6.1 codebase was ready, then called that 6.1, I'd be agreeing with you. Hell, they could call the new version 7.0 if they wanted, except that it would be tantamount to admitting that 6.0 was a dog.

          Finally, as an afterthought on speed: I tried and quickly buried NS 6.0. Since then, I stuck with Mozilla builds, until I finally got tired of the waiting game and migrated to MSIE on Windows, and Konqueror on Linux. I'm due to take another look soon, but at the time, no version of Mozilla yet built could compare speedwise to either of those alternatives.

  • what's the big deal? (Score:5, Informative)

    by UM_Maverick ( 16890 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @08:52AM (#2272813) Homepage
    Everybody knows that AT&T Broadband is for sale. It only makes sense that another cable company would be the one making the purchase. Comcast made the first offer, Cox is rumored to be interested, of course AOLTW is going to be interested. It makes sense for them. This isn't so much an evil megalo-corp bent on world domination as it is a large company that probably can't hit growth targets without making acquisitions.

    And as far as size goes, there are plenty of companies out there that would dwarf AOLTW...some people need to calm down and take a look at the world before freaking out...
    • AT&T provides service to something like 60% of the cable households in the USA. It's taken an enormous amount of work (read lobbying) to placate the FCC with this situation. Throw that 60% in with Time Warner's existing share, and you have a megalithic cable company that simply cannot exist under today's regulations. Presumably regulations will find themselves changing to accomodate AOL/TW's needs, and that makes me nervous.

      I'm also not thrilled about the idea of a single company controlling such a vast percentage of content and news production, TV distribution and Internet service. If AOLTW weren't a media company, and therefore so able to influence the popular mindset, I wouldn't sweat it so much. But the truth is, AOLTW and its components have shown their willingness to sacrifice just about anything to profits-- including objective news reporting, open access, etc. Such behavior is probably natural for a [very aggressive] corporation, but it's not in our best interest as citizens.

    • What concerns me are three basic issues:

      1. The monopolistic aspect of this potential merger. There is already a paucity of competition for broadband in the U.S. with most people probably only having a single choice. Having a company as huge as AOLTW controlling a majority of the cable modem business in the U.S. would likely result in service degradation and rising rates. Just look at Microsoft to see what a monopoly does for/to consumers.

      2. Because AOL is a proprietary service aimed at the Internet neophyte, many people are concerned that the only choice for broadband would be a high-speed pipeline through which AOL could pump its ceaseless banner ads and spam. In addition to the content issue, the proprietary nature of the service would make it impossible for people to run FTP servers, web servers, mail servers, etc. (contrary to popular belief, customers may run servers under the terms of many cable franchises).

      3. AOL has a long history of censoring users. While this might make some religious zealots and guilt-ridden absentee parents happy, it is a chilling prospect to those who wish to engage in adult discussions on anything from breast cancer to S&M clubs.
    • I would love to hear about a company in the same industry, that dwarves AOLTW. I think you must be comparing something like Exxon to AOLTW, and by that logic it should just be ok for a few multinational corporations to entirely control each of their respective industries.
    • by mcc ( 14761 )
      You do not have to believe AOL/TW/etc is inherently evil in order to feel this merger is dangerous and Not Good.

      No, this is not some evil scheming thing. Yes, this is a sane, valid, sensible business choice, and what AOL/TW would be expected to do. It's still really bad. AOL/TW is quite simply not to be trusted with that kind of market power. Not that they're evil or shifty; just that they're human. Just that that is too much power, too much control, too much influence, and in my opinion at least it is simply not safe to allow that much influence to be collected into one entity. And that AOL/TW has given [me, us] no reason to believe that they are (or will remain) responsible enough to use that power and influence in wholly responsible ways. And that whether or not the potential abuses of AOL/TW/AT&T (or even the current AOL/TW) were (are) to materialize, if those potential abuses do begin to slowly be implemented then there will be literally nothing in place to stop them.

      Power Corrupts. I wish more people still believed that..

      as far as size goes, there are plenty of companies out there that would dwarf AOLTW..

      size, yes. both in terms of employee and $ power, yes, there are larger companies. However, two things:

      First off, the issues are not with the simple size of this company, but about the strength and kinds of the leverage it would have. This is not about horizontal market power, although in some specific markets the resulting bethemoth would have LOTS of horizontal power; this is about vertical market power. Anyone alarmed is not alarmed by its mere strength, but by the huge number of markets that it has strength in.

      Secondly, i for one am alarmed by a really large media company far more than i am by a really large steel company, simply because from watching current events it would seem to me that media companies are actively threatening my constitutional rights. The companies in the exact spaces that AOL/TW is in seem, to me, currently to be the only groups who are poised, willing, and actively trying to invade my personal privacy and freedom in ways that make me uncomfortable. There are lots of steel companies much "bigger" than AOL/TW, but the steel companies aren't the one paying elected representatives to support things like the SSSCA. (Of course, were i a union laborer my view of the steel companies would surely be different. And those steel companies are surely paying those same elected representatives to produce things like corporate welfare and lax environmental regulations. However, this does not change the fact that raw size goes a LOT further with media than it does with heavy industries.)

      p.s.: if my english is a bit garbled this morning, please excuse me. low amounts of sleep longwinded + run-on sentences... [slurrring]tha'sallthankyu.
    • Pronunciation: m&-'nä-p(&-)lE
      Function: noun
      Inflected Form(s): plural -lies
      Etymology: Latin monopolium, from Greek monopOlion, from mon- + pOlein to sell
      Date: 1534
      1 : exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action
      2 : exclusive possession or control
      3 : a commodity controlled by one party
      4 : one that has a monopoly

      How much of America's opinions are based on what they see on television? How many trust the news media? If they don't believe what they see on CNN where do they go for another opinion, AOL?

      With media centralizing aroung AOL/TW and expanding its collective influence with yet another company the size of AT&T it is not the overall size of the company that matters, but the audience it reaches. I consider the effect of a single media entity's influence on the majority of Americans a very big deal indeed.

  • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @08:57AM (#2272822)
    (Disclaimer - I'm British, these are nominally American companies and this would mostly affect American users. Flame away if you think this is none of my business.)

    I have to say, this whole saga sounds so much like AOL etc. _daring_ the government to stop them. They can't quite believe they're getting away with it but hey, if they can buy the world before anyone notices and complains then they might as well give it a try...

    Someone _really_ needs some backbone to stand up to this, it's ridiculous. A company like this would have so much power it isn't funny and they need stopping. From a shareholder point of view, a company this large would likely be quite unwieldy and so probably wouldn't be as good value as the individuals currently are collectively.

    Except look at the current 'business friendly' Whitehouse. Oh well, better luck in 2004, guys.
    • A company like this would have so much power it isn't funny and they need stopping.

      Cue the anarchist terrorists with stolen ex-Soviet antitank weapons...

    • Except look at the current 'business friendly' Whitehouse. Oh well, better luck in 2004, guys.

      It is going to take more than 3 years for the Americans to start voting, and demanding democratic reforms, that will enable them to re-ignite their democracy. The Republicrats have been colluding to exclude all others for 150 years - why does it matter who they elect, there will be no change from either party... nothing of consequence... maybe they'll debate about education reform or public health care - yet again...

      The entire political system is so corrupt (literally) that it is an outright sham(e).

    • Oh well, better luck in 2004, guys.

      2004? What the hell are you talking about? The next election is in 1984. I hear Reagan is going to promise no new taxes, and...

      Oh, wait, your right, it is 2001. Sorry, with everything going on over here, I got a little confused.
  • poor MS (Score:2, Funny)

    by pipeb0mb ( 60758 )
    poor little microsoft, all by it's lonesome out there in the big bad corporate world.

    send contributions via paypal.

  • I just hope that the hewlett-packard compaq merger doesn't ever enter into this...they could take over the world.
  • I read a book called Red Mars where corporations on earth started buying small countries for their resources. They then had to govern the people of the country. The corporation wasn't much different than a government other than that economic policy was the law above everything else. Everyone fears that coporations will control and manipulate industries to work towards their goals, but isn't that what a government does now?
  • Who owns what (Score:5, Informative)

    by Barbara Streisand ( 518896 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @09:07AM (#2272838)
    An interesting resource guide [] to what the major media companies own.
  • by taco1991 ( 213491 )

    Why Broadband Is So Narrow? []

    where the state of broadband is discussed in good detail. In fact, this month's issue of Forbes ASAP [] had a few articles (check the first 4 listed starting at Internet II in particular) discussing the current viability of broadband, future implications of Internet II, how the Internet should grow in the future, and how the government should help its growth.

    I don't know enough about the current situation regarding these topics to make intelligent comments about it, but these articles IMO did a good job painting the current picture. I HIGHLY suggest these articles for anyone not familiar with the current nightmare growing in broadband regulation/deregulation, the growth of the net, and DSL vs. Cable Modem providers.

  • the article Just Six Corporations Remain [].

    Seriously though, in the timeline for the roleplaying game Cyberpunk [], corporations successfully lobbied for a federal law deputizing their security officers to enforce the law within corporate controlled "security zones" (city business districts, company owned housing developments, etc). How long before that happens for real?

    • In ShadowRun, a corporation called Seretech was transporting something or other, a biohazard of some sort, through a city. There were food riots happening at the time, and a mob thought the refrigerated truck was transporting food, and attacked it. The security guards on the truck knew that if the truck were breached, the biohazard released would do Really Bad Things. So they responded with deadly force, and in a rolling firefight, managed to make it to a Seretech compound. Some killed, many injured. The courts ruled that the guards had done The Right Thing, setting the precident for corporate security forces. Now, how corporate extraterritorality came about, I can't remember off hand, but I think it had something to do with Shiawase Corporation not wanting to pay for energy in California, and lobbying to be able to build their own nuke plant. I figure we see corporations become separate legal entities within twenty years. Corporate citizens paid in corporate scrip, spending at corporate stores, and so on.
  • by alumshubby ( 5517 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @09:59AM (#2272998)
    ...does it mean that AOL would finally have enough bandwidth that it wouldn't have response problems during peak usage times? That's one of the frustrations I had with using it.

  • Zappa said it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:10AM (#2273059) Homepage Journal
    Politics is the entertainment wing of industry. You don't need to 'buy' a country. All you need to do is buy the people who sit in key organizational, policy and operational roles in government. Those are called elections.
  • Leaving aside the morality or practicability of the situation, AOL would just be a vertically integrated media content supply and delivery supply chain. (Imagine AOL at reliable broadband speed... Why, they'd become huge. Oh. They ARE huge.)

    But not all the way down to the hardware it would run on. There are sensible reasons why you're not likely to ever see them bid on shares of Intel any time soon.

    As the automotive industry has shown, in hard or unstettled time, that's just not a good idea. If you fall out of favor at anypoint in the chain ("We don't like &lt whatever &gt !") the entire chain falters.

    Why do you think the vehicle manufacturers don't make tires? If Ford couldn't sell cars because of Firestone's bad press, (or Ford Tire Company's bad press,) a third of the automotive production capacity of the Western world be dead in the water. One faulty tire making machine spewing out substandard product could idle hundreds of thousands of people and cause economic dislocation greater than the GNP of many nations (combined!)

    Only in the area of operating systems (I won't quibble about the operating part,) do we have such a ridiculous concentration of supply versus demand with just ONE supplier having acquired, by successive illegal and anti-competetive means, 85% of the total market.

    When the patforms shifts to 64-bits and implements bio-metric security, the 85% will find themselves hamstrung in their efforts to improve their lot.

    Luckily, M$ can't get in where security is an issue. NO company, NO country is going to risk using M$ anything in contracts where they have to garantee 99.999999% up time or face the consequences. (M$ Outlook crashes on me almost EVERY time I use it. Its the only piece of M$ software in my house and I use it to remind myself of how bad their products are.)

    "Starwars" and the Missile Condom" will be the death of M$ if you play it right. Linux is hard to hack and much more reliable. Prove it (with help from ths NSA, etc) and the rewards will be truly great.
  • Microsoft will [].

    Hey, whatever happened to pithy wit?

    Your comment violated the postercomment compression filter.
    Comment aborted
  • Salmon Rushdie suggests hopefully that there are no tyrannies that cannot be successfully resisted....

    He cannot have considered a financial rather than a political/military one.

    Political/military tyrannies give in exchange little or nothing; the thinnest illusion of security for their license to pillage and enslave.

    By the innovation of offering a miserable amount of money outright thievery and slavery is given the imprimatur of laws and contracts. An illusion is created of acceptance by all parties almost disguising the fact that the various forms of slavery cannot be distinguished from each other by the pittance paid.

    With indecent dishonesty, the few can obtain with deceit what would likely be unobtainable by force or coercion. This innovation is clearly the most profound of the Twentieth Century, far beyond semiconductors, air travel and automobiles.

    Unlike the flesh-and-blood tyrant, the deathless corporation extends itself endlessly into all dimensions.

    A new guide-book is in order, to suggest how to resist an organism that masquerades in providing as little as possible of what the slaves think they want. Of course arrogance (and hubris) will likely see a final resolution in the streets....Perhaps Rushdie is right after all.

  • Push for a MUD! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by litewoheat ( 179018 )
    If you are so worried about AOL MegaConclomo Inc. taking over your cable think about backing a MUD (Municipal Utility District) where you live. A MUD once established takes control of local utilities and puts them in the hands of an elected board. Let AOL buy AT&T, then watch as municipal districts all over the country take it back piece by piece. There's no more small guy provider any more or at least not for very much longer. That's gone forever. The only recourse we have now is our local (LOCAL) government.

    Call me a socialist? Well you get two choices these days, unfettered capitalism building monopolies more powerful then most nations or capitalism held on a leash by prevailing socialism. If a corporation grows too powerfull and holds a monopoly it should get taken by the people with the power of eminent domain.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor