Antitrust Time?
June 3, 2003 5:15 PM   Subscribe

The Big Ten Media Corporations and Clear Channel Communications control most of the major media already. This includes print media, film archives, movie and television production, and the largest Internet Service and News Provider. Right now is the argument is to prevent further consolidation. But should it instead be to break up these mega-corporations instead? Should anti-trust law cover horizontal as well as vertical market ( and employee) domination?
posted by kablam (12 comments total)
I'm for it. I think the argument can be made that consolidation = lost jobs. More consolidation means higher unemployment rates. Also, more media companies could mean more campaign donors, while fewer media companies could mean fewer campaign donors. I hope our elected "representatives" have bright staffers who can explain this to them. After all, they will do the right thing occasionally, if they think they'll gain personally by doing so.

Split 'em up and they'll have to do some hiring, or contract out to someone who'll do some hiring. Then there's that whole Irish famine argument against monoculture, but who's going to vote based on reason and principle rather than money?
posted by trondant at 7:45 PM on June 3, 2003

Diverse. Free. Equal. Pick two.
posted by MzB at 8:08 PM on June 3, 2003

The Big Ten list reminded me of this brilliant/paranoid/insane diagram that's in the liner notes of Godspeed You Black Emperor's last album, Yanqui U.X.O. It connects various large media conglomerates to the defense industry, which they call "Yanqui U.X.O."
posted by zsazsa at 8:10 PM on June 3, 2003

trondant, i am going to have to respectfully disagree. it seems to me your argument is that "whatever policy hires the most folks is the best policy". Assuming demand for their end products remains constant, hiring more folks would simply reduce profitability of the industry, leading to either consolidation (ironic?) or some sort of union-hell where both the shareholders and employees lose (see the airline industry).

moreover, i question the notion that anti-trust should be involved at all. not to sound like a drunken 1999 dotcomer, but the internet has redefined the publishing industry and to say that any publishing industry has a monopoly seems outdated. if NBC/ABC/FOX wants to scrap it out for news-on-tv, let them (who gets their news from TV anymore anyways).
posted by H. Roark at 8:15 PM on June 3, 2003

Complaining about horizontal market domination weakens your argument against traditional vertical monopolies. You can only slice the market one way.

Or else you end up in the ridiculous situation of complaining about a "monopoly" consisting of ten companies.
posted by smackfu at 9:57 PM on June 3, 2003

I say let them conglomerize all they want, if the product is weakened, more nimble competitors will come in and snatch away their market share. What we need is a union of viewers, because since we're the ones who pay for these networks (with our eyeballs) we should have more say in what they do. Readers and Viewers of the world, UNITE
posted by chaz at 11:00 PM on June 3, 2003

Slight tangent but I got a shock & realised how media conglomeration is going recently.

My g/f is a total Patti Smith fan & following a recent acoustic/poetry gig she was looking forward to Ms Smith's next full wig-out rock 'n' roll avec band outing.

Knowing the way to my g/f's heart I searched out online what seems to be Ms Smith's only other UK date this year -- a Monday eve. at Shepherd's Bush Empire London in August. -- and clicked thru to buy tickets. A wry smile when 'Clear Channel presents Patti Smith and her Band' pops up on the website as I remember various MeFi discussions past. Then a total shock when I'm presented with a bill for £56.50 for two £22.50 tickets. That's just over 25% in service charges! £5.50 for 'secure postage' (I can send a secure letter for about £1) and £6.00 administration fees.

Funnily enough, I didn't continue. Luckily for me I'm in a position where I can probably sort out some complimentaries but as a very occasional gig-goer I can't say that I'll be rushing out to but tickets for anything else if this how things are these days. It's not that I can't afford the extra 25% but for a fully automated transaction that involves sod all human contact? The words 'you are having a laugh' spring to mind...
posted by i_cola at 3:39 AM on June 4, 2003

smackfu, chaz your guys comments are right on the money.
posted by ZupanGOD at 4:37 AM on June 4, 2003

Yanqui U.X.O

I was thinking of the very same diagram.

You can only slice the market one way.

You must have me mistaken with someone else. I can slice the market number of ways, and I could give a shit about whether or not I look ridiculous. The healthiest market is one made of many, many local businesses and no "gobal" or national ones.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:46 AM on June 4, 2003

the internet has redefined the publishing industry

and like the music and movie industries, the publishing industry now wishes to redefine reality as a defense. let 'em all get blogs!
posted by quonsar at 6:59 AM on June 4, 2003

The greatest good for the greatest number. What's so hard about that? The broadcasters are using a publically-owned resource to make their money. To think that the public shouldn't have a real say (i.e., not an asshole FCC commissioner who took over forty industry-sponsored junkets, but bitched and moaned about one frigging trip from D.C. to Richmond to hear pulic comments) beggars belief. It's a public resource. Why not have as many members of the public as feasibly possible make their living by using a public resource to enrich private companies? As twisted as that is, it's the best I could hope for.

The more people they have on the payroll, the less the scum in the boardroom can give to the scum in Congress. I don't want them to get the money, I want them to think they'll get it.

What I don't get is why people argue for things that are demonstrably and materially to their detriment as a citizen when they don't stand to gain financially. I mean, if you have stock in one of these companies (or you're secretly Rupert Murdoch) shouldn't you disclose that at the outset of a debate? At least that way, we'd know you're greedy instead of deluded.

More conglomeration could put start-up broadcasters (you know, the sacred American small businesses, whom politicians would let have sword fights in their mouths in public, the way they talk about them) out of the game. Once they get there, all they have to do is strangle the public broadcasters who put out radical garbage like this, and they're done. Complete control. What do you think they'll say to you then when an issue comes up that you care about, but they won't touch? Probably something like this.
posted by trondant at 8:47 AM on June 4, 2003

Oh, and I went back up and saw that you were respectfully disagreeing, so my apologies if I was too strident in response. I did, however, find an answer to your question about who gets news from TV. As of October 2001, sixy-three percent of Americans cited either local or national TV as their primary news source. Only six percent cited the Internet. I don't know if the question was rhetorical or not, but I thought it was germane to the discussion and therefore worthy of an answer.
posted by trondant at 9:06 AM on June 4, 2003

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