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Four Takes on Comcast + NBC Universal

Wondering about the NBC Universal-Comcast merger?  Well, Senator Al Franken and FCC Commissioner Michael Copps think it’s a complete disaster.  A lot of others are scratching their heads as they sort through the incredibly complex deal.  Here are four links to get you started.

We’ll start with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps’ statement.

The Comcast-NBCU joint venture opens the door to the cable-ization of the open Internet. The potential for walled gardens, toll booths, content prioritization, access fees to reach end users, and a stake in the heart of independent content production is now very real.

As for the future of America’s news and journalism, I see nothing in this deal to address the fundamental damage that has been inflicted by years of outrageous consolidation and newsroom cuts. Investigative journalism is not even a shell of its former self. All of this means it’s more difficult for citizens to hold the powerful accountable. It means thousands of stories go unwritten. It means we never hear about untold instances of business corruption, political graft and other chicanery; it also means we don’t hear enough about all the good things taking place in our country every day.

The slight tip of the hat that the applicants have made toward some very limited support of local media projects does not even begin to address the core of the problem. Given that this merger will make the joint venture a steward of the public’s airwaves as a broadcast licensee, I asked for a major commitment of its resources to beef up the news operation at NBC. That request was not taken seriously. Increasing the quantity of news by adding hours of programming is no substitute for improving the quality of news by devoting the necessary resources.

Make no mistake: what is at stake here is the infrastructure for our national conversation—the very lifeblood of American democracy. We should be moving in precisely the opposite direction of what this Commission approves today.

The New York Times on the basics of the deal.  Ars Technica: “The size of the deal leaves mere mortals reaching for thesauri”

Senator Al Franken (D-MN): “This is the first time the FCC has allowed discrimination on the internet” (video)

About Jean Cook

Jean Cook is a musician, producer and Director of Programs for Future of Music Coalition, a national nonprofit that works to improve the lives of musicians through research, education and advocacy on policy issues that directly impact the ability of musicians to make a living and reach audiences. She is a founder and director of Anti-Social Music, a New York-based new music collective, and currently records and tours with Ida/Elizabeth Mitchell, Jon Langford, and Beauty Pill. For FMC, she currently project directs initiatives to fix jazz and classical music metadata, analyze what is actually played on jazz radio (and how to improve data collection), and understand how copyright impacts indigenous artists in places like Ethiopia, Tajikistan and Australia.

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