Jan 25 2011

How the Comcast-NBC Universal Merger Affects You

Feature Stories | Published 25 Jan 2011, 10:54 am | Comments Off on How the Comcast-NBC Universal Merger Affects You -

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The impending marriage of Comcast and NBC, approved by the FCC last week is ushering an era of what some call the “mega mega merger.” Going into this deal, Comcast is already the nation’s largest cable and home broadband provider. NBC Universal which is owned by General Electric, was formed by a 2004 merger with Vivendi Universal. Now, Comcast’s take over of NBC Universal will create an entity controlling 20 percent of all network and cable TV viewing hours. Of added significance is the fact that this is the first time a cable company will control a major broadcast network. Over the past two years that the merger had been under negotiation, Americans’ media consumption habits have dramatically shifted toward online video. The FCC admitted that the merged company it approved will pose risks “to the development of innovative online video distribution services.” The Comcast/NBC merger is bringing to fruition the prediction made by legendary journalist Ben Bagdikian of an ever shrinking number of media corporations owning and controlling all media in the US – a trend he began documenting in 1983 in his book Media Monopoly. Meanwhile, MSNBC’s Countdown host, Keith Olbermann, announced his departure on Friday, just days after the Comcast/NBC merger was approved, abruptly ending a tenure that had garnered millions of loyal viewers. Olbermann’s show was the top rated program at MSNBC and is credited with presenting some progressive balance to the rightward tilt in mainstream media. There is no evidence yet to connect the merger with Olbermann’s exit and Comcast, whose CEO Brian Roberts is openly Republican, has promised not to interfere with the news operations of NBC Universal.

GUEST: Robert McChesney, professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, cofounder of the media reform organization Free Press, author of several books on media and politics, host of the weekly talk show, Media Matters, on WILL-AM radio

Find out more about McChesney’s radio show here: will.illinois.edu/mediamatters/.

Find out about the organization he co-founded, Free Press at www.freepress.net.

Visit Robert McChesney’s website at www.robertmcchesney.com.

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