Rupert Murdoch withdrew his $80 billion bid for Time Warner recently, which may signal an end to a bidding war that Time Warner executives had considered aggressive, if not hostile. While Fox officials represented the offer as a fair and friendly offer of $85 per share, Time Warner viewed the offer in a much different light. Time Warner responded immediately to the offer from Murdoch with a straight forward letter of rejection from CEO Jeff Bewkes. The Murdoch deal for Time Warner Inc. would have dwarfed the current proposal to merge with Time Warner Cable, which was made an independent company shortly before the Comcast offer.
PUSHBACK FROM THE PEOPLE
According to the Consumer Federation of California website, only 11% of individuals polled actually approved of the Comcast merger proposal, while 56% were directly opposed. The Time Warner Inc. merger would have made Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox the primary overall market player, and probably the controlling entity within the comprehensive content industry. In addition, it would have also put Fox is a position to manipulate the Comcast Time Warner cable conglomerate. When big players make a move to take control of what the common people are allowed to access, the people pick up on the progression immediately.
CONTROLLING THE MARKETPLACE
Market leverage is what the entire perceptive sweepstakes have been about. In markets such as California, the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger could result in less consumer alternatives, not to mention the impact on the local cable companies in metro areas like San Francisco that may ultimately need to raise rates that may cause customer migration. Instead of a merger, what consumers need is more content providers. There are really only two types of markets. Those two natural enemies are competitive markets or cooperative markets. Highly-leverage corporate behemoths can wield power in a manner that forces a competitive market into a quasi-monopoly cooperative, which means that ultimately the consumer will be paying well in excess of the product value. Comcast has proven that result for nearly 40 years in terms of high cable rates and less-than-spectacular service. Neither merger would mean well for the consumer.
INFORMATION CHOICE IN THE INFORMATION AGE
We are clearly in the information age in contemporary communications, and having very few major corporate players in the information delivery industry puts too much power in the hands of a few who may already be conspiring with the government to completely hand over the Internet to the common carrier systems. In return, the industry will make sure that information the government wants suppressed will stay suppressed. This co-oped power agreement can easily become a First Amendment issue. We are already seeing this dynamic in broadcast news and television. The next step will be gaining complete control of who can communicate through the Internet via implementation of the corporate media oligarchs as the information police.
Suppressed information and rewritten history have become major concerns for citizen journalists since the ability to communicate online became available to common people. Broadband technology has now allowed individuals to implement personal videos into the mix creating a firestorm that many governments and corporations would like to extinguish. We are just around the corner from the FCC decision, which will be decided by former primary cable industry lobbyist and now Chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler. In addition, Congress will need to approve any cable conglomerate merger. The question is, can the powers-that-be put the genie back in the bottle even with policing authority?