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The Media

FCC to Permit Complete Media/Telecom Consolidation 304

rhwalker22 writes "Today's Washington Post has a piece reviewing some of the major decisions the Federal Communications Commission will be making in the next few months, moves that could fundamentally rewrite the rules for the broadcast media and Internet service providers. Excerpt: 'Opponents of the proposed rules fear that, taken together, they ultimately could lead to a few powerful conglomerates controlling the flow of electronic information, from programming of television and radio news and entertainment to owning the pipes that connect people to the Internet.'"
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FCC to Permit Complete Media/Telecom Consolidation

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  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TCaptain ( 115352 ) <slashdot...20... ...> on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:25PM (#5006732)
    Opponents of the proposed rules fear that, taken together, they ultimately could lead to a few powerful conglomerates controlling the flow of electronic information, from programming of television and radio news and entertainment to owning the pipes that connect people to the Internet.

    And how this is different from today?

    • Re:huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Britissippi ( 565742 )
      Ain't that the truth! With Clearchannel [] controlling every other radio station, AT&T [] Controlling almost all the phones and broadband access....

      Not to mention the TV stations all being administered by a sinister few....

    • Re:huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by avi33 ( 116048 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:39PM (#5006854) Homepage
      I got news for you, these *are* the good times.

      Imagine if Sony, your ISP/cable company, decides that you, as a consumer, really only need port 80. Their TOS allows them to monitor your computer for p2p apps, and while you're free to 'license' (listen to once, without recording) sony music and video for a small fee, any non-sony media will be subject to a bandwidth if you listen to non-sony internet radio, you hit your cap 4 days into the month. ...or, you could always try your hand with the other ISP, MicroDisneySoft.
    • Re:huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by akb ( 39826 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:39PM (#5006855)
      The specific rules which are on the chopping block are the TV/radio crossownership restriction, the TV/newspaper restriction, caps on ownership on numbers of tv and radio stations that one entity can own in a market and nationally. See the Association of Independent Film and Videomakers advocacy page [].

      Another good resource is at the Center for Digital Democracy [].
      • Great, similar to the laws that were axed and allowed Clear Channel to destroy radio as we know it.

        Any time a friend turns on the radio is sends me into a rant. There really isn't anything worth listening to any more, with the exception of NPR.

        Thanks Michael Powell (though I'm not sure if he was chairman at the time). And thanks Clear Channel.
    • Re:huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WPIDalamar ( 122110 )
      Now the RIAA could buy the music stores, and only offer their music, instead of the RIAA just pressuring the music stores with price breaks.
    • Sounds groovy, Buy your computers from IBM Buy your operating system from Microsoft Buy your telecom/ internet from BellSouth ------------ I have had to deal with all three and they suck equally as well. (BTW, I work for a CLEC so I have firsthand experience dealing with an incumbent (incompetent(BellSouth)) phone company with ego's the size of Montana) ------------ DSL is so damned expensive and unavailable rurally because of the baby bell's arcane, antiquated systems that they don't want to upgrade. They just hope that the competition (CLEC's) go away so they can continue to sell you shitty service through the rest of the 21st century. ------------ Take a look at the tarrif pricing on a DS1 or a DS3! Talk about dis-incentive for anyone expect for a fortune 500 to buy. The RBOC's hate bundled (data and voice)services, they hate UNE-P's, they hate their customers. Just send them the money and shut your mouth.
    • Re:huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      What really upsets me... I work at an ILEC in michigan. We do billing for a bunch of CLECs and they're pretty much going to get destroyed by this. See part of the regs they want to axe relate to sharing the last mile. This dereg will literally put hundreds of CLECs out of business overnight.

      SBC won't want to share with the 3 CLECs we deal with. They won't play nice, they'll simply up the rental fees until the CLECs are gone.

      I don't want to hear any whining from SBC about how it costs too much to share either. We (at our little telco) know that's a lie... Everyone at the small ILEC/CLECs know -- and so do the people at SBC. But people with money always win... *shrug*

    • Re:huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GrenDel Fuego ( 2558 )
      Right now we have companies that practially (or actually) have monopolies in various industries.

      With this change, you will have your Microsoft TV Channel, Microsoft radio station, Microsoft Newspaper, Microsoft Internet access, Microsoft Movies. (Or insert your other favorite Conglomerate. ATT or Disney perhaps?)

      Then again, we've got MSN and MSNBC already, so we're pretty close already.
    • Re:huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TrekCycling ( 468080 )
      That's what I was thinking. We must stop media consolidation before it gets out of control!! Now leave me alone so I can go back to watching the Daily Show on Comedy Central, which is owned by Time Warner, which owns the #1 ISP in the world along with major film studios, indie film studios like Mirimax, around 20 cable TV channels and.......
  • Unification (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:25PM (#5006744) Homepage Journal

    You'll have to start making out your cheques to "AOL-TimeWarner-Disney-MGM-Universal, an Exxon Company"
    • "You'll have to start making out your cheques to "AOL-TimeWarner-Disney-MGM-Universal, an Exxon Company"

      Actually, no. Who do you think will own the bank your account's at ?
      • Re:Unification (Score:4, Insightful)

        by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:41PM (#5006878)
        Who needs banks? Since you'll work for them, they'll just keep an account for you at the company store, which will be always just slightly negative in balance.
        • Re:Unification (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LostCluster ( 625375 )
          If The Company is publically traded, you can buy shares and their for profit from the fact you and everyone around you is being ripped of.

          Have you noticed that most of the truely evil companies have large shareholders, but not a true majority owners? Yep, we're ripping ourselves off so we can fund our own retirement in our 401k.
    • "AOL-TimeWarner-Disney-MGM-Universal, an Exxon Company"

      Hey, waht about the other conglomerate, "SBC-20th Century Fox-Viacom-ABC-Amazon-Microsoft Corp (MSNBC)-DirectTV, an Enron Company"

      (They have more experience with lawyers and court rooms ... and thus, they'll win)

      • Nope, can't happen. Disney owns ABC. Now, replace ABC with NBC!!!

        SBC-20th Century Fox-Viacom-NBC-Amazon-Microsoft Corp(MSNBC)-DirectTV, an Enron Company.
  • Fear??? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mustangdavis ( 583344 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:26PM (#5006750) Homepage Journal
    'Opponents of the proposed rules fear that, taken together, they ultimately could lead to a few powerful conglomerates controlling the flow of electronic information, from programming of television and radio news and entertainment to owning the pipes that connect people to the Internet.

    Yoda almost had it right ...

    Fear leads to anger
    Anger leads to hate
    Hate ... leads to a few powerful conglomerates controlling the flow of electronic information???

  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:29PM (#5006776)
    Get in your shots now. In a few months, your service agreement will forbid such anti-corporate comments. And since they corporations work for the common good, that's reasonable. Now sit down, watch Rollerball, take your pills and stop idolizing Jonathan. Rollerball is not about individuals.
    • In a few months, your service agreement will forbid such anti-corporate comments

      If your ISP is one of the many now owned by (i.e., Microsoft), your EULA probably already forbids this, except perhaps in jurisdictions where there are local laws against such restrictions. And in the US as a whole, such restrictive terms are legal. Under the DMCA, publicly describing bugs or flaws in any product you buy or rent is illegal..

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by CFBMoo1 ( 157453 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:31PM (#5006789) Homepage
    If it gets bad I can always use carrier pigeons to connect. So long as it isn't hunting season my packet loss should be acceptable.
  • by Fict ( 475 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:32PM (#5006804)
    i work for a *major* US telecom provider, and i must say this:


    trust me on this one. yes, we do have plans to merge with at least three other companies, mostly medium-sized regional providers. what we haven't told you, however, is that this merge will allow us to provide high-end DSL service to residences across the country for less than $10 / mo.

    we will be able to do this due to the fact that there will be no middle-man provider. there are also some amazing projects in the works regarding satellite and wireless data transmission. think: global wireless network, anywhere in the world, anyone in the world, no charge. the bandwidth will be limited to 19.2 bps initially, but the coverage will be absolutely ground-breaking.

    what's in it for us? .. yes, there is a catch...
    • trust me on this one. yes, we do have plans to merge with at least three other companies, mostly medium-sized regional providers. what we haven't told you, however, is that this merge will allow us to provide high-end DSL service to residences across the country for less than $10 / mo.

      Cool. Now get them to do away with the contracts and I'll DEFINITELY switch to DSL and tell TimeWarner to "GFY".

      That is, as long as the service isn't over-sold to the point that I'd get better service slapping in a 19.2 baud modem and going back to dial-up..

    • So what your saying is so what if a handful of corporations gain even more control over the media [] as long as we get cheap DSL?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "trust me on this one. yes, we do have plans to merge with at least three other companies, mostly medium-sized regional providers. what we haven't told you, however, is that this merge will allow us to provide high-end DSL service to residences across the country for less than $10 / mo."

      Sure, with 1GB download cap, no uploading and service contract which forbids using P2P software?

      I don't see how unrestricted high-end DSL can cost $10/mo.
    • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:58PM (#5006992)
      When someone from a major corporation explains that what they are doing is a good thing and exclaims


      the one thing you can be sure you need to do forthwith is PANIC!!!!

      No delays now. Start running down the streets screaming at the top of your lungs, rending your clothes and flinging yourself into plate glass windows. It's for your own good.

    • Or... since you'll be a monopoly, you'll jack up the price nice and high.

      Or maybe that $10/month will only last until a majority of people have signed up, then the price will go way up.
      • the $10/month is the service charge... then there is the $5/dollar per month universal service charge which will certainly be upped to $7 or $30/month by government mandate to "soften the blow" of all the secondary regulations that will be imposed after this supposed deregulation, then there will be taxes and other fees that go directly back to the corporations or to a fund a Senator's pet projects.

        What costs $10/month these days? I'm sure we will get what we deserve in service. Does anyone trust ATT, AOL or Disney to give it to us?
    • --this could be all well and good or just a troll. No way to tell, but I'll bite anyway. The last time I heard something similar was from the cable companies when they were granted all their local monopoly licenses. It was supposed to be "ad free" cable, ie, "no commercials". That lasted about two minutes, tops. And you still can't buy what you want by individual channel, it's always been a take it or leave it "package deal" that no one is ever happy with.

      The default "consumer" mindset now (just accept it, it's more or less a general truism) is "we" just plain don't trust any large corporations to ever tell the truth on anything. We DO trust them to cook the books, pay high level executives obscene amounts of money for basically not a lot of "work",to do whatever it takes to avoid paying pensions or shareholders once the stock money is spent, to just constantly run businesses into the hole and declare bankruptcy and skip with the loot then start over again, lie in front of congressional committees, pay bribes to the same guys, establish and endless stream of daisy chained convulted sham/scam off shore "corporations" so they can buy,sell and lease their own stuff back and forth to each other to avoid any taxes and any personal named human responsibility, and to use lawyerese foreign language fine print on any "contracts" with end users that is so small that you need two magnifying glasses to read it.

      Besides that sure, if this is true and reasonable, bring me dsl (19.2 dsl? huh?) (sdsl preferrably so I can host) out in this rural area I live in that has some sort of reasonable up stream and downstream, I'll pay double that 10$, even triple, as long as my bandwith is my bandwith,you don't block my ports, and I don't have to pay for "content" that I don't want, that is, don't force me into a "bundling" arrangement for pay per view nonsense. Don't make me pay for a phoneline I never use. Don't tell me that you only "support" one OS when I call to get a connection. Something like that, more power to ya,hope to see it. If there's a lot of "gotchas" in the fine print, ain't interested, will hold out for guerrilla/independent/home made wireless access somehow. If you have a cool breakthrough-great! Even if it starts at 19.2 but can advance within a year, swell, I'll buy it. Not that much slower than I get now on staticy rural phone lines (phone line+inet connect running over 50 clams a month now), and I'd much rather have wireless, that means my projected move to even a "more" rural area won't necessarily jeopardise my inet connection..
  • "But senator, you say 'Industry-wide consolidation' like it's a BAD thing!"

    Oh, and Bill didn't say this. He didn't say "640k should be enough for anybody" either, but the 'net is a funny thing.
  • Humpty Dumpty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:34PM (#5006820) Journal
    Well, we broke up Humpty Dumpty (Bell) and now we're putting them back together again. Yeah, the US is definitely in the consumer's corner.
  • by jweb ( 520801 ) <jweb68&hotmail,com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:34PM (#5006823)
    At one hearing last summer, Hollings all but called Powell a shill for big business in general and the large regional telephone companies in particular.

    So, if I got read this correctly, Fritz (Disney) Hollings is calling Powell a corporate whore?
    • Re:Define Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by (trb001) ( 224998 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:01PM (#5007011) Homepage
      Irony is the wrong word...hypocrisy is the one you're looking for.

    • Yes. You see, Disney doesn't own any cable systems, and not very many TV stations compared to others. It's absolutely dependant on others to push its content out.

      If the phone and cable companies get more powerful, that's bad for Disney, therefore Fritz is against it.
      • WTF are you talking about? Disney owns a fscking major network!! Or haven't you heard of ABC?
        • Re:Define Irony (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LostCluster ( 625375 )
          They own a network, but ABC does not own very many TV stations.

          Therfore, they are depending on companies such as Hearst-Argile to make the last-mile link between the network programming and the viewers. If Hearst-Argile were ever to decide to create its own network using its stations to start it, ABC would suddenly be off the air in several major cities, and in the crouded TV field would have a hard time finding replacement affiliates without taking a major downgrade.

          Likewise, The Disney Channel, ESPN, and ABC Family are cable networks... but Disney doesn't have a cable system with which to make the last-mile link. If cable companies decided to walk away from Disney, those cable networks would suddenly be devalued with no way to reach end viewers.

          Owning content is worthless if you have no way to sell it to somebody.
  • by MImeKillEr ( 445828 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:35PM (#5006832) Homepage Journal
    Opponents of the proposed rules fear that, taken together, they ultimately could lead to a few powerful conglomerates controlling the flow of electronic information, from programming of television and radio news and entertainment to owning the pipes that connect people to the Internet.

    This is already happening with Radio. Proof? Two words: Clear Channel.

    Do you have a KISS-FM in your town? That's Clear Channel. They're putting cookie-cutter pop radio stations (all called KISS-FM) in major markets. In addition to owning KISS-FM in nearly every market, they own TV stations, billboards, concert venues, etc.

    Check out this [] link.
    Click here [] and search for 'kiss' -- you'll find 51 stations, all the same format, all the same manufactured pop stars, all the same type of dopey deejays.

    Its radio like this that keeps me listening to CDs.
    • Clearchannel is "just" radio and billboards, they own ~1300 radio stations. And all this has happened since 1996! Before that 20 stations was the national limit. I think the change has been very dramatic, the quality of radio programming has gone done so much everywhere nationally I don't even really bother looking for good radio.

      The FCC thinks all this has been good and wants to extend this model to all other media that it regulates!
      • I totally agree, Clear Channel buying everything up reduces cost but also quality. Same with any national chain.

        The one exception I will give is in DC...DC101 (101.1) is awesome. The morning DJ, Elliot, bashes Clear Channel whenever he gets the chance. Anyone from the DC/MD/NoVa region can back me up on this.

        • I grew up listening to DC101 in the 70's and 80's. DC101 sucks today. When was the last time they played a local act?

          Admittedly, not as bas as WHFS, which used to be an alternative station, but only barely not as bad.

        • I disagree that it even reduces cost.

          when the internet first arrived I went with MCI for my ISP. Local ISP were able to provide better service and cost.

          Big companies CAN NOT provide customer service. They eternally suck at it. The Middle man in the ISP arena has been a source of reduced cost for us internet users, not added costs.

          This is the idea the Auto Industry has been focusing on for years. They are always divesting themselves of departments in hopes of creating bigger middle-men to take some of the load off them.

          See, their are certian things that ALL the Big3 require, why not let a supplier do that for them all since its the same job. This REDUCES, not increases, redundancy. Consolidation will destroy internet quality, but to me thats ok. This will cause more people to roll their own internet. The only bad part is when this big corps go bankrupt the idiots in the government will give them billions of my dollars to stay afloat...

      • Clearchannel is "just" radio and billboards, they own ~1300 radio stations.

        Unfortunately, you're mistaken. Taken directly from []:

        "Clear Channel Worldwide (Clear Channel Communications, Inc., NYSE: CCU), headquartered in San Antonio, TX, is a global leader in the out-of-home advertising industry with radio and television stations, outdoor displays, and entertainment venues in 66 countries around the world. Including announced transactions, Clear Channel operates approximately 1,225 radio and 37 television stations in the United States and has equity interests in over 240 radio stations internationally. Clear Channel also operates approximately 776,000 outdoor advertising displays, including billboards, street furniture and transit panels around the world. Clear Channel Entertainment is a leading promoter, producer and marketer of live entertainment events and also owns leading athlete management and marketing companies." (emphasis mine).
    • And with this law they can buy out/merge with a nice large ISP (earthlink, juno anyone?) and then make all of their "content" (discounted music rights) available to only their isp's customers.

      Not to mention that here in the SF Bay Area (and most everywhere it seems) Clear Channel owns ~80% of the music radio stations, and ~100% of the large concert venues. Making the radio universally similar.
    • Clear Channel,

      Making sure radio sounds exactly the same, all across America.

      Listen to Clear Channel. The RIAA knows what the best music is.

      You don't really need this blues, bluegrass, or other small market music.

      All you need it pop, "alternative" and Soft Rock.

      Clear Channel, the only way your brain will receive entertainment form here on out.
    • KISS-FM is the most visible format clone, but if you have a station that does local news in the morning, Rush Limbaugh around lunchtime, and Art Bell at late night, you have a cookie-cutter Clear Channel talk station.

      There is no such thing as a major independent national news voice in TV or radio anymore. They're all owned by Viacom, Disney, General Electric, News Corp., and AOL/Time Warner, or they take funding from the U.S. Government.

      The only places you find small news outlets still alive is local TV (because the big companies are restricted from buying stations that reach all of the population) and print newspapers (because the big companies are restricted from buying newspapers where they own local stations).

      If those barriers are lifted, what do you think is gonna happen?
    • Technically, not all the same type of dopey deejays. Just one DJ who prerecords everything. Travel between two Clear Channel cities and you'll find that it's the same DJ in both cities. Media consolidation is the number one reason for decline in album sales, not p2p. Clear channel is destroying music, Time/universal/sony are destroying movies/television/news. Welcome to the brave new world.
  • by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:35PM (#5006833) Journal

    ... The Company.

    What was a sci-fi fantasy/warning is quickly becoming a reality. In the future there will be one corporate entity indistinguishible from and intertwined with the government.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.


    • What a joke.

      People like yourself cause discredit and scorn to be brought upon peo0ple who actually try to deal with legitimate issues.

      "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

  • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:36PM (#5006837)
    But they assured the audience that the changes were double-plus good.
  • Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qrlx ( 258924 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:37PM (#5006842) Homepage Journal
    Opponents of the proposed rules fear that, taken together, they ultimately could lead to a few powerful conglomerates controlling the flow of electronic information

    Shouldn't that be fewer powerful conglomerates?

    Deregulation of the telecom industry has brought us the lowest rates ever! Of course, we're paying fees, taxes, tariffs, surcharges, adjustments, and recoupments that didn't even exist before, but look -- deregulation must work because rates are lower.

    The situation with deregulation in this country has put the foxes in charge of hen house.

    For my opinion of FCC Chairman Michael Powell, read my other post [].
    • I think the point is that fewer players == less competition. Many people would have preferred that ATT and Comcast compete rather than merge.

      Deregulation led to lower rates in telecomm because there was competition. Deregulation has also seen cable rates skyrocket and the radio dial go to crap as competition is hobbled in those areas.
  • [clip], set restrictions on how many TV and radio stations can be owned by one company, and determine whether a company can own both newspapers and TV stations that serve the same community.

    I guess if they let any TV network own as many channels as they want, then they too can use M$s "embrace and destroy" method of market domination by just buying all the small competition.

    Not convinced about the idea that this won't stop new entrants into the market place and any that do appear will get rapidly snapped up by one of the big 3 to be.

    That prospect has Amazon, Microsoft Corp. and a coalition of other technology companies worried that those gatekeepers could prevent users from looking at certain content

    How many consumers would seriously put up with internet content being blocked if it's not the suppliers companies content?

    Maybe certain ISPs would be born that are basically a new version of TV channels - only their content but provided for a lower price...

  • in the IT world (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ideonode ( 163753 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:40PM (#5006872)
    In most companies I've worked with, communications and media are bundled in the same vertical anyway - typically something like ICE (Information-Communication-Entertainment) or similar. From a purely technical standing, I don't think it makes much difference.

    From a socio-political position, however, it further blurs the distinction between medium and message. Damn that McLuhan - he was smart!
    • This is the reason why there has to be walls between the people who make the content, the channels that present the content, and technical provider that delivers the channels.

      If the market is permitted to behave naturally, we will be down to a small handful of players who own the entire process including the studio to make the content, the cable channels that package the content, and then the communication networks with which to sell the cable channels. This seems okay on the surface, but there's a huge problem.

      It's hard to start a movie studio, it's hard to start a cable network, and it's hard to start a cable system / satellite company. However, it's much more than three times as hard to have to start all three at the same time. (If any one component of the three is a failure, the whole project gets knocked off course even if the other two components are perfect.) By redefining what used to be three games into one, they have made it much harder for new enterants to get in their way.

      BTW... why hasn't Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, or Peter Jennings done an in-depth report on the effects of communications industry consoldiation?
  • by TerryAtWork ( 598364 ) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:42PM (#5006885)
    before it gets better.

  • Well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:56PM (#5006985) Homepage

    I for one welcome our new insect - er, media - overlords.

    Why limit ourselves to only a few variants of democracy? There are plenty of other options []. It's time to give honest plutocracy, argentocracy, timocracy, or even quangocracy a chance.

  • Show me the money (Score:2, Interesting)

    It would be, umm.... nice to know how much the media corps 'donate' and how much the oposition donate, not that there's anything dubious about the desision.
    • Check Open Secrets [], they break things down by industry. The media industry has a special relationship with politics because politicians have to pay for advertising time. Its huge money for them, $billions. Off the Record [] is a great report that looks at the media industry and politics.
  • Michael Powell is Colin Powell's son, and he is known as "friendly to industry" - meaning that your media corp can get whatever it wants from the FCC, for the right amount of campaign contributions.

  • by Lobsang ( 255003 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:02PM (#5007018) Homepage
    Brazil is a good example of what happens when media corporations are allowed to do whatever they want.

    Brazil's biggest media company is called "Rede Globo" (Globo Network). They own radios (both AM and FM), TV stations across the country and newspapers.

    It's hard to describe the power of such corporations although the US is beginning to have a glimpse of what happens when media becomes a tycoon controlled business.

    Rede Globo's ascent to power began in the mid 60's when they sided unilateraly with the military (Brazil was forcefully ruled by the military for 20 years starting in 1964, with lots of torture and deaths -- all with the consent of the US governement, but then it's a different story). Newscasts at that time use to portray any opposer as "subversive". The whole thing grew to be what it is today: A big conglomerate with tentacles in all sections of the society.

    One interesting example is what happened to "Fernando Collor", a whacko that eventually got elected as the Brazilian President some years ago. Globo supported Collor fiercely, as the other candidate was Lula (the current Brazilian president). Corporations were very afraid that a left wing candidate would win and Globo used all their power in favor of Collor. Later, winds changed and Collor started to go really nuts. Result: Globo gave all attention (nationwide!) to anti-Collor movements across the country. Lots of dust under the rug came to light and he was eventually impeached.

    And if this was not enough, consider this: In the US, when Britney Spears starts singing on the radio you just say a few bad words and change the station (OK, OK, it's going to be hard to find a good one). In Brazil, when Globo wants to impose a new fad, you'll see that on TV most of the time, you'll listen on a few radio stations and on the highest circulation newspapers. You cannot escape the annoyance. You just cannot.
    • One tactic in radio avertising is called "buying the market". That is the act of a single sponsor buying a commercial spot that is scheduled to be run at roughly the same time on every major statiion in the city. No matter what station you listen to, or even if you hop between stations, there's likely no way you'll not hear this sponsor's message that day.

      This is a pretty rare tactic because it's both expensive and hard to do. (You have to buy time from several different companies, and some stations might not have an ad slot available where you want it.) However, if the same media company controls all of the signals that you listen to, it's very easy for a sponsor to deal with one company to push whatever message it wants out to you.
  • by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:04PM (#5007030) Homepage Journal
    Opponents of the proposed rules fear that, taken together, they ultimately could lead to a few powerful conglomerates controlling the flow of electronic information, from programming of television and radio news and entertainment to owning the pipes that connect people to the Internet.

    Which is of course what you would want if you were trying to subvert democracy and freedom...a task some members of the current administration have already made great inroads on.

    • by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:23PM (#5007159)
      Someone had this quote in their sig on another thread:

      "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power" -- Mussolini

      Needless to say, I saved it!

    • This is perfect. The Government can't legally supress free speech. So instead, they deregulate until all the media is in the hands of a few, and the speech is then quelled by censors/moderators and EULAs. Later, they'll make large investments in unneccessary technology that will be legally required before you can provide ISP service -- so what used to cost a few thousand to start, now would take hundreds of millions -- thus leaving everyone priced out of the game.

      It's beautiful. The privatization of suppression.

  • 1930's, part deux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kraksmoka ( 561333 ) <grant@gr a n t s t e r> on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:10PM (#5007069) Homepage Journal
    "That assumes that the antitrust division takes a pill and goes to sleep," said Powell, who once worked in that Justice Department division

    HELOOOOO! it is asleep already! two letters M$

    in the 30's the fcc shifted from a public interest view of it's job to a pro-business view. as a result, enourmous barriers to entry were constructed in TV and Radio.

    fact is, the system in place favors the regional phone companies too much already. its nearly impossible to switch DSL providers without a massive downtime and loss of productivity. cable is only as good as the local monopoly that provides it (if its like here with AT&T, not even worth the hassle of dealing with those incompetents), and many cable co.s are providing downstream only links to prevent sharing, with a dial in modem for up, awful. i thought broadband's big advantage was that you don't need a second telephone line.

    fact is, the only way to break the hegemony of the regionals is for someone to step in and require that the infrastructure is separated entirely from the sales and marketing, and make baby bells that once again become public utilities instead of sanctioned monopolies.

  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:10PM (#5007071) Homepage Journal
    Whether you agree with his views or not, Noam Chomsky never fails to make you think, even if it's just to formulate a response to his arguments.

    If you're interested in the effects of media consolidation and government propaganda, check out this short summary [] of a pamphlet Chomsky put out during the Gulf War.

    I disagree with huge chunks of what he says in this pamphlet and subsequent pronouncements. But he has been writing about the consolidation and manipulation of the American media for many years, and if current trends continue, his annoying rants [] may mirror the truth more closely than any of us would like.

  • What we slashdotters need to do is to get involved in supporting the campaigns of legislators with the courage to speak out against corporate excesses, like.... Fritz Hollings?

    And, when a legislator sells out, we need to join together in working toward their ouster, like... Fritz

    Damn, my head exploded again.

    Anyway, my point is this - Disney is not the worst corporation out there. Fritz' may be 0wn3d by Disney, but at least he doesn't belong to AT&T. I may not like Disney's plans for DRM, but they've never sponsored the overthrow of a national government (ITT, the predecessor of AT&T, aided Pinochet in establishing a military dictatorship in Chile. [] Search the page for ITT.)

    So, would AT&T abuse their power to suborn Democracy? They already have. I sure don't trust them.
  • None of this really matters, it's just to reduce paperwork. Think about it, 5 companies, working together, or one big company? One big company = less paperwork. Now that the Microsoft Project(tm) has shown that the people really don't mind full blown monopolies as long as they keep us under control, it's not a problem and now they want to do it. Everyone knows all the major companies are owned and run by the Illumana%!@#$ NO CARRIER
    • by bahwi ( 43111 )
      What I meant to say was that I think this is a good thing and that we should trust our corporations. There is no one controlling everything behind our backs, we are a capitalist society where one can rise to the top. I for one will trust the corporations with my soul.
  • by DailyGrind ( 456659 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:28PM (#5007192) Homepage
    One day I will wake up and unable to open the electronically controlled front door to my condo I will have to call North East America Inc support center....

    me: dial
    phone: Welcome to North East America Inc... your call is important to us... etc.. press 01 for support with your phone; 02 for support with cable; 03 for support with your internet; 04 for support with your climate control; .....etc.... 99 if you cannot open your door.

    me: 99... wait...
    phone: sir, your buildings central waste monitoring facility has detected trace amounts of marijuana. as you know drugs fund terrorism and terrorism is un-American. as a precaution we have temporarily detained all occupants pending an investigation

    me: what! ... I am going to e-mail my Congressman about this...
    phone: sir, the central e-mail monitoring facility has detected that your e-mails contain words like "high", "da bomb", and "explosive" and may refer to un-American activities and therefore your e-mail has been suspended...

    me: nuts!, I am moving out west!
    phone: sir, we have logged your request and are sending you a Western America Inc transfer form. There is a $20,000 transfer fee.

    me: thats it I am moving to Canada!
    phone: sir, only terrorists live in Canada... please stand by security services are on the way...we have restricted your TV to receive Lawyer commercials you may wish to watch while you wait... have a nice day.

  • by Ded Bob ( 67043 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:45PM (#5007314) Homepage
    As an ex-DirecTV DSL customer, I am seeing it disappear as we speak. The only provider in my area is now SBC. Whether or not the FCC does anything, I see competition as being dead.

    BTW, I would love the FCC to get rid of one regulation: the idiotic regulation that requires me to cancel DSL service before I can get another provider to even take an order. The same group comes out to disconnect me as will connect me five days later. I want to see down-times of hours not days nor weeks (if unlucky). How can people try out different competitors easily if they will have to wait so long?
  • by violently_ill ( 629903 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:48PM (#5007341)
    i just spent two weeks vacationing in snowy canada (i live in california) and while i was there i had the opportunity to learn about canada's internet. in short, it kicks ass. it is very fast, very resilient, very regulated, and most importantly, very cheap. the canadian government has been developing and regulating broadband since before anyone knew what broadband was and their investment has surely paid off. how does digital cable service AND broadband internet for $40/month sound? that's 40 candian dollars, or a little over $30 dollars american currency. not only that, but it's purported to be more resilient than the internet2 project that is just barely getting off the ground in the states. canada's regulated deployment scheme has made it one of the most wired nations in the world. we could learn a lot from them.
    • God damn it! This puts me over the edge. I've been meaning to join our northerly brethren for a while now and I think this just about gives me the final reason to make my promise good. Onward Kanooks! Eh?

      Unregulated Capitalism is the EVIL of the world.
  • EchoStar is turned down, when it wants to give me and millions of other people local channels.

    I don't want cable, I want DISH.
  • In this scenario, a sufficiently motivated group could purchase all the media outlets in an area, effectively controlling the flow of information to the populous. Then they could start spreading false information without any balances.

    Can you imagine a society where if you spend enough money anybody can get elected?


    note: satellite/cable and the Internet are moderating forces, but they are not free (federally subsidized), which is why this is a problem.
  • In the end, this consolidation will serve only to preserve the media industry and the telecom industry so it can prepare for the coming of age of low frequency ultra wideband radio technology. LF UWB is a carrierless peer-to-peer technology which has the potential to break the last mile barrier. Imagine you little wireless ethernet access point with a 150 mile range. I don't think this will be good for cable companies and the local phone company.

    Of course, this all could just be an evil plot.

  • by cdn-programmer ( 468978 ) <terr&terralogic,net> on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:11PM (#5007552)
    Prior to the DCMA, the owner of copyrighted materials had the right to duplication and distribution of his/her creations. These rights were subject to the abuse of organisations like the RIAA for instance, but at least the artistic community held the rights until they (often naively) negotiated them away.

    With the DMCA, safe harbour provisions were created that transfered the right of distribution away from the creator into the hands of the distributor the moment the creator posted his/her material on the net. In effect the creator of a work lost the right to distribute and duplicate their work - without any negotiation or need for the creator to be compensated.

    Thus, a company that owns content (which is presently not made available on the net) would be at a disadvantage because the moment they post it - they would effectivly lose control over distrribution. This ruling by the FCC will fix that. By merging media interests with distribution interests the combined mega corporation controls both the distribution as well as retaining control of their copyrighted materials - IE the problem is fixed.

    Collateral damage includes anyone who is not powerful enuf to be a major carrier and/or who does not have a significant amount of internet content - enough to make them attractive enough for a large telecomunications interest to want to climb into bed with them.

    Slashdot falls into this category. With no means of negotiating a sweetheart "convergance" contract with a telecommunications carrier, slashdot will get hosed on bandwidth charges. Meanwhile, having lost the "right to copy" their presumably copyrighted materials (DMCA transfers these rights to the carriers) Slashdot is unable to participate in the HUGE revenues that stem from the delivery of same to the consumming public.

    What a sad commentary on manipulation of the unfolding cyber world.

    This development is NOT in our interest! It certainly should be considered rather draconian by anyone aspiring to make a living utilizing the technologys presently being developed for cyberspace.

    This group will include most webmasters, many systems admins, most HTML and CGI programmers and probably most of the flash programmers. The group includes a lot of wanna-be-professional web developers and artists - many of whom are doing brilliant work and may never know why the job offers they were hoping for didn't develop.

    If anyone things this is an overestimate of the damages - then consider the number of layoffs in the dot.bomb sector. A good place to read on this is at fucked company []

    Over at FC, Pud declares that these were just shitty business plans and that any company that does not make a profit will simply go out of business. Ya, Pud is pretty ruthless - might not have a heart.

    The point IMHO that Pud is overlooking is that some outfits like do a RATHER GOOD JOB and they also are feeling a cash squeeze. Perhaps its a bad business plan... but I rather think the issue is having your work taken without compensation and being given no access to a rather HUGE revenue stream that this work helps to create.

    Let me ask - if it were not for great websites like Slashdot, why would people like us bother to subscribe to an ISP? We pay our ISP's for access to this material and our ISP's pay their upstreams. Somewhere along the way over to the slashdot servers the money flow stops.

    Slashdot is a very popular website - even so they have little market clout in the eyes of upsteams. So little slashdot with little bargaining power is placed in the situtation that they can either pack up their bags and go home - or try to find some way to fund the operation.

    Meanwhile, if there are say 100,000 slashdot readers then "we" pay at least $25x100,000 = $2,500,000 per month for our interent access. In my case with the dropping content, I find that the docs over at gnu and a few other open source projects makes it worthwhile for me to have a dedicated connection. In total - slashdot probably represents over 10% of the total internet content I look at. I would be very happy if a percentage of the money I pay each month found itself flowing into the pockets of SlashDot.

    But without any distribution clout - that isn't likely to happen.

    Meanwhile we should expect that organizations like CNN, TSN, and so forth will find they can make good money distrubuting THEIR content - because THEY will have enough clout to bargan for an inside seat in the distribtution game.

    In effect, the rest of us subsidize them because the content they have could NEVER create the net.
  • by jessedl ( 100221 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:34PM (#5007778)
    A lot has been written about the potential for a technological riff between the 'haves' and 'have nots'. I believe instead this riff will divide the media-addicts and those strong enough to overcome or avoid media-addiction.

    The interesting thing about those who read and write to slashdot regarding this story is their tension between media-craving and media-disgust. The majority of respondents, by virtue of reading the site itself, are in some way addicted to news and information. Notably they are loathe to hear of corporate conglomerates taking control, despite the fact that they likely pay $50+ monthly cable bills to these very corporations.

    Media companies have exclusively the interest of their consumers in mind whenever they do anything. This is economic law. They give the masses - and we're all part of the masses despite whatever intellectual tricks we use to convince ourselves otherwise - what the masses demand. Substitution of one sub-media for another ("underground" music instead of "popular" music) does not free yourself, ultimately the happy-go-lucky Media Inc. will figure out your shifting preferences and deliver it to you in any form you're willing to pay for. And you WILL be willing to pay for it.
  • by FlyingElvi ( 525233 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @03:19PM (#5008188)
    A good little place to keep up with the mergers and conglomerations in the media world is at Who Owns What [].

    The Columbia Journalism Review keeps good tabs on such things.

If it is a Miracle, any sort of evidence will answer, but if it is a Fact, proof is necessary. -- Samuel Clemens