The media industry is likely to see many mergers in the coming times. Reports are rife that leading cable TV company, Comcast is looking forward to acquire another cable TV giant Time Warner Cable. Other news of merger is likely to arrive from T-Mobile and Sprint – the third and fourth-largest wireless providers. Last but not the least Rupert Murdoch of 21st Century Fox is reportedly going to take over media firm Time Warner.
But analysts see these mergers not a good development for the media industry.
John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney for the media watchdog group Public Knowledge, is cynical about the latest developments.
He says mergers and that too with such a high pace is not good for market as they reduce competition. Good competition is good for consumers as that keeps prices down and content diverse with decent service. Market law also suggests the same. Moreover, more competitors help in checking monopoly which is not good from customer’s perspective.
“As the Department of Justice and the FCC found when they blocked the AT&T-T-Mobile merger, you need a certain number of competitors to ensure that a market actually is competitive,’ he said.
According to Bergmayer, mergers hardly address the needs of consumers and media ownership and control generally under-represent communities of color.
“With enough public push-back, government agencies can be convinced to block these attempts at media empire-building,” Bergmayer said.
Other market experts also shares similar views.
Betty Yu of The Center for Media Justice, calls media mergers always bad for customers, saying they are always on the losing side.
“People of color make up about 30 percent of the population, but we barely own any real media infrastructure. So, we know how this affects how our issues – around labor and education, health care and the environment – are covered for poor people, working people and people of color,” Yu said.
For Bergmayer the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is more frightening. Comcast already own NBC and NBC News and if it continue the acquisitions, its domination on cable industry would highly influence everything including the most important coverage of news.
“Comcast plus Time Warner will be so big that they can essentially make or break any independent programming,” he said.
Now, the comings days will show how these mergers are going to influence the media industry and up to what extent the concerns of media experts are going to be correct.
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