If we aren’t careful, you won’t be able to turn on your T.V. or go online without Rupert Murdoch somehow controlling the content you’re getting. The billionaire mogul (one of the richest people on the planet) wants to buy Time Warner. It’s a deal that, if it gets shoved down the public’s throat, could have terrible effects on not just free speech, but the landscape of media in general.
Murdoch already owns News Corporation, which owns a number of major media outlets like Fox News and the New York Post. If Murdoch gained Time Warner, he would have to divest the company of its ownership of CNN to avoid running afoul of antitrust laws in the United States. To do that, the 21st Century Fox (another Murdoch corp.) would sell CNN after the purchase of Time Warner.
The merger would be a sign of dangerous things to come, however.
Bloggers and podcasters, like Ring of Fire, could feel the sting of such a merger.
Increasingly, internet access and media in general are controlled by fewer and fewer entities. The major players here are continually jockeying to be allowed to filter the content that they deliver online. They already have that on lock down on T.V.
Now the battlefield is whether more mergers like the proposed 21st Century Fox/Time Warner one will crop up, should it happen. The consolidation of the companies will undeniably result in a gradual homogenization of voices in the public space. Only those that tow the company’s line will find their content being delivered.
Fortunately, Time Warner resisted Murdoch’s first advance, most likely because the shares offered didn’t carry with them voting powers.
But as Zaid Jilani pointed out, Ted Turner, the mogul responsible for the emergence of CNN, had some insights for times like these:
“At this late stage, media companies have grown so large and powerful, and their dominance has become so detrimental to the survival of small, emerging companies, that there remains only one alternative: bust up the big conglomerates. We’ve done this before: to the railroad trusts in the first part of the 20th century, to Ma Bell more recently. Indeed, big media itself was cut down to size in the 1970s, and a period of staggering innovation and growth followed. Breaking up the reconstituted media conglomerates may seem like an impossible task when their grip on the policy-making process in Washington seems so sure. But the public’s broad and bipartisan rebellion against the FCC’s pro-consolidation decisions suggests something different. Politically, big media may again be on the wrong side of history – and up against a country unwilling to lose its independents [sic].” Ted Turner, 2004.