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163305 tn?1333668571

Comcast/ TimeWarner merger will create monopoly on media

Former FCC Commissioner Warns About Comcast-Time Warner Merger, "Mindless" Media Consolidation

Comcast has announced plans to buy Time Warner Cable at a cost of more than $45 billion in stock. The takeover would allow Comcast to provide cable service to a third of American households and give it a virtual monopoly in 19 of the 20 largest media markets. While Comcast has claimed the deal will be "pro-consumer," the group Free Press warns the deal would be a "disaster" for consumers. Analysts predict Comcast will launch a lobbying blitz similar to when it won approval to take over NBCUniversal in 2011. Comcast has already hired FCCCommissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who signed off on its NBCdeal. We speak to another former FCC commissioner, Michael Copps. He now leads the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at Common Cause.

@ http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/17/former_fcc_commissioner_warns_about_comcast
39 Responses
Avatar universal
Remember we always have the internet for the media.
163305 tn?1333668571
But they will be controlling the media too, deciding which sites you can and can't go to. It seems like Free Press is virtually extinct.
Avatar universal
Yes and they're creating content too. It's not a good thing for the average consumer that's for sure. It's going to be like everything else soon - it's going to price poor/"middle class" people out and it could get very nasty.
Avatar universal
They can not regulate the internet
Avatar universal
You can regulate the internet - just go to Iran and see how it works there. In fact, for one aspect of censorship they're using software developed here - in the US.
Avatar universal
Yes the government can if they so wish but that goes against the Constitution. a cable company can not do that.
Avatar universal
Notwithstanding your constant cynicism, on this issue I believe you're naive.
Cable companies can regulate the channels you get on TV. You have probably seen the different packages available. More $ = more channels.
And you don't think a similar approach could be implemented by an internet service provider?
Or maybe you want intrusive government regulation of a private entity?
Gee, I thought you guys despised that stuff.
Avatar universal
No i don't believe an ISP could limit access to sites
Avatar universal
Can they limit your access speed?
Avatar universal
And that has to do with limiting sites how?
Avatar universal
It is one example of how your internet access can be regulated and tied to pricing.
973741 tn?1342342773
I have Time Warner now (loathe them BUT . . .  it is them or satellite with all the problems that satellite comes with)----------  thought Time Warner ALREADY had a monopoly.  Boo.  

And we get out internet service through TW.  They already have pricing based on speed.  We had to get a power boost for 10 extra bucks on top of our already huge bill.  TW used to deal a bit with customers and tried to help lower costs.  Now?  Nope and you lock yourself in with a 2 year contract each time you change services (IE:  dropping a cable network due to not being able to afford it).  

It's going to get worse?  ugh.  Double boo.  

I'm all for shopping around for the best cost choice and when it is limited, that doesn't make me happy.  Basic economics suggests that more choices equals better pricing for consumers.  

Now I'm not sure Vance, HOW, they'd limit access to internet or if they could set it up on a tier system like cable is---  but when money is involved ---  people seem to figure out ways to do such things.  However, I'd think there was a freedom of information bill or something that would protect the world wide web and limiting access??   But it is true, they do charge more for high speed and turbo speed (which I can't imagine having anything less than) and that could limit someone's internet usage.  But better than dial up as in the old days where they charged you by the hour.  We've come a long way from that.  

Avatar universal
HOW, they'd limit access to internet

"Iran has also put in place SmartFilter, which prevents access to prominent English-Language websites and filters Persian-language sites. Iran is also known to use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) for Data interception tools. It is claimed that devices used, including allegedly that of ZTE and Huawei, were used to get data. DPI allows for data analysing including checking email content, browsing history and blocking access to sites.[8]"
See: http://southasiajurist.com/2013/12/05/irans-internet-limitations/

I'm not saying that this type of censorship or regulation is right around the corner or that our government would behave like Iran. I am saying that the software is available to regulate the content that you can access. SmartFilter was created by a California company which claims that Iran stole their software. What troubles me is that this merger will consolidate so much of this country's information access into one company. And like you said SM "but when money is involved ---  people seem to figure out ways to do such things". And you mentioned that pricing can force people to drop cable or move to a lower tier with fewer choices and more limited access. I can imagine a similar thing happening with internet access and that does worry me. I'm not screaming that the sky is falling but I do hate to see so much control of the access to information controlled by one huge entity. I think it's bad for the consumer.
Avatar universal
Google out to spread its super-fast Internet service

Google on Wednesday ramped up its drive to build a super-fast US Internet network in a budding challenge to the grip a handful of titans have on service.

Lessons learned and confidence gained from Google Fiber projects in Texas, Utah, and the Kansas City region prompted the Silicon Valley technology giant to invite 34 more cities to explore the potential to build the ultra-fast networks.

"People are hungrier than ever for faster Internet, and as a result, cities across America are making speed a priority," Google Access Services vice president Milo Medin said in a blog post.

"We've long believed that the Internet's next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, so it's fantastic to see this momentum."

Google cited letters from city leaders across the country who were adamant that high-speed internet is essential for innovation, education, and economic growth.

Medin was quick to point out that Google Fiber projects might not work out in every city invited to sign up.

"But, cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network," he said.

"We hope this news inspires more communities across America to take steps to get to a gig."

- Comcast mega-deal -

The news from Google come a week after Comcast unveiled plans to swallow rival Time Warner Cable in a mega-deal that triggered debate on the creation of a cable-Internet behemoth.

News of the $45.2 billion deal uniting the largest two US cable firms raised regulatory concerns about the reach of Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal's film and television assets and is one of the largest providers of cable Internet.

"While no single series of deployments can solve the major broadband competition problem that we face in the US -- particularly in light of the announced intended consolidation of the two largest cable broadband providers -- this is a positive step for a handful of communities across the country," said Sarah Morris at the New America Foundation.

Google has been gradually moving to provide Internet service on which its money-making online products depend.

Along with Google Fiber projects in Austin, Provo, and Kansas City, the California company last year announced a deal to provide free high-speed wireless Internet service at all Starbucks cafes in the United States.

Google boasts that its Starbucks Wi-Fi is as much as 10 times faster than what was available before, when it was handled by telecom titan AT&T, and that its Fiber speeds blaze up to 100 times faster than what people use currently.

Google has established a pattern of providing a low-speed version of Google Fiber free to residents, who pay one-time installation fees, and then offering options such as high-speed Internet and online television for monthly subscription rates.

163305 tn?1333668571
"What troubles me is that this merger will consolidate so much of this country's information access into one company. "

649848 tn?1534633700
If most of what's newsworthy is being determined by one company, does it really matter who much internet speed we have, or how many cable channels?
148588 tn?1465778809
"Can they limit your access speed? "

"And that has to do with limiting sites how? "

Ever try watching Netflix on dial-up?
That's an extreme example, but you get the idea.

Avatar universal
Dial up is old technology...has nothing to do with a company limiting your speed.
973741 tn?1342342773
Vance, in all honesty,  They do already have packages that are speed packages.  You pay more for more speed.  
Avatar universal
Yes I have seen that, but it has nothing to with limiting websites. But also the speed is mainly for faster downloads of large files, doesn't do much for normal internet usage.
649848 tn?1534633700
Yes, the faster speeds we pay for make surfing the internet much faster.

If you think they can't control the internet, you might want to take a look at the following article about Venezuela.


Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground

Feb 21, 9:05 AM (ET)


LIMA, Peru (AP) - The battle for Venezuela is being fought as vigorously online as in the streets, with authorities cutting off the Internet to a clash-torn university city and blocking selected websites and a "walkie-talkie" service widely used by protesters.

A local TV reporter in San Cristobal, capital of the western border state of Tachira, said Thursday night that she could hear gunshots as tear-gas-firing police broke up protests just as they had the night before when Internet service was cut.

"We're still without Internet. And some people don't have water or electricity either," said the reporter, Beatriz Font.

San Cristobal, home to one private and three public universities, is where the current wave of anti-government demonstrations began on Feb. 2, the fiercest unrest since President Hugo Chavez died last March.

Later Thursday, the U.S. company Zello told The Associated Press that Venezuela's state-run telecoms company, CANTV, had just blocked access to the push-to-talk "walkie-talkie" app for smart phones and computers that has been a hugely popular organizing tool for protesters from Egypt to Ukraine.

Zello supports up to 600 users on a single channel, and company CEO Bill Moore said it became the No. 1 app in Ukraine on Thursday for both the iOS and Android operating systems. In one day this week, Zello reported more than 150,000 downloads in Venezuela.

Some believe Venezuela's information war, which escalated last week as the government blocked images on Twitter after violence in Caracas claimed three lives, is only just beginning. The protesters are fed up with a catalog of woes that include rampant inflation, food shortages and one of the world's highest murder rates.

The socialist government cemented its near-monopoly on broadcast media Chavez's 14-year-rule, and social media have been crucial for young opposition activists as they organize and exchange information on deaths, injuries and arrests.

Net-savvy activists reported a serious nationwide degradation Thursday in Internet service provided by CANTV, which handles about 90 percent of the country's traffic.

They said websites including NTN24.com, run by the eponymous Colombia-based regional news network, and pastebin.com, bulletin boards that cyberactivists use to anonymously share information, were being blocked.

President Nicolas Maduro had ordered NTN24 removed from air last week after it broadcast video of a student killed by a gunshot to the head in Caracas.

U.S.-based company Renesys, a top analyzer of global Internet traffic, confirmed the website blocking and service degradation, but said it could not determine if CANTV was decreasing bandwidth.

"I certainly don't know from our data if it is deliberate, although given the context, it seems plausible," said Renesys researcher Doug Madory.

Venezuela's traffic to its close ally Cuba over the ALBA-1 undersea cable, meanwhile, appeared unaffected, he said.

Programmer and cyberactivist Jose Luis Rivas, who is from San Cristobal but did give his location fearing persecution, said the Internet went out in most of the city of 600,000 about midnight Wednesday.

All across Venezuela since protests accelerated last week, activists have posted online YouTube videos of riot police and national guard breaking them up. Sometimes, the security forces are accompanied by pistol-packing motorcycle gangs of Chavista loyalists that the opposition also blames for killings and other abuses.

Rivas said that on Wednesday night, before the Internet went out in San Cristobal, people were live-streaming video of a crackdown by security forces.

Cutting the Internet deprived people of their only access to uncensored information and Rivas said people told him "they felt fear because they were no longer informed."

Government officials have not commented on the Internet outage and did not respond to Associated Press queries on either it or the service degradation and website blocking.

Spokespeople for Conatel, the government telecommunications regulator, and the Ministry of Information, said they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Conatel's director, William Castillo, tweeted Thursday that social networks were being "invaded by cybercriminals who are attacking accounts and manipulating information."

Information Minister Delcy Rodriguez used Twitter complain that they were being used to incite "coup-directed violence and create anguish."

Hacktivists have been attacking government websites from abroad, rendering many unreachable with denial-of-service attacks, or data-packet floods.

Images, meanwhile, have been available on Twitter since last week's brief outage. Company spokesman Nu Wexler said Thursday that measures which he did not specify were taken to "ensure continuity of service." Twitter also continued to tweet a workaround that lets users in Venezuela to receive tweets on their cellphones via text message.

Venezuela has been blocking websites that track the black market rate for the country's currency for months, and for a number of weeks that knocked out access to the popular Web address-shortening application Bitly.

Venezuelans who want to reach such sites have had to use proxy services, which have long been employed by people in China and Iran to circumvent government censorship.

The international director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Danny O'Brien, said he thought the Venezuelan net censorship has been "somewhat haphazard and arbitrary."

Nearly half Venezuela's population relies on government-controlled media as its sole information source, the rest on the Internet.

But cutting off Internet is not smart political strategy, said O'Brien.

"I think the important lesson people should learn from these Internet blackouts is that they just throw fuel on the flames of civil unrest," he said.


Frank Bajak on Twitter: http://twitter.com/fbajak
Avatar universal
Yes indeed, it can be done.
Avatar universal
I am not saying that in tech terms it can't be done. In freedom terms it can't be done.
649848 tn?1534633700
Who's going to stop them?  

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