I found that the section called “Cable Barons” in this week’s On the Media podcast to be particularly interesting. This section is about combining two major companies by merging Time Warner Cable and Comcast. The fear of the public is that this will highly impact our TV and Internet bills as well as begin to effect our experiences and flow of ideas and much more. This section featured a guest speaker by the name of Susan Crawford who is currently specializing in studying the telecom industry and its relationship with powerhouse monopolies. Her perspective of this situation is obviously “grim”, as stated. She shared that this combination will have a major negative impact on our society’s programming. This is because this combination will completely destroy the hope that any competitors could come in and keep up with these monopolies. The main reason is due to costs. She explained that current content providers such as Comcast are already only paying 1/3 or 1/2 of what new and upcoming providers would pay for programming. To make matters worse when companies like Comcast begin to bulk up with Time Warner they will now pay even less which will completely demolish competition making this merge of companies a monopoly superpower. Not only will this merge effect competition and narrow the viewer’s options, it will also affect current programming already out there, such as Netflix. Comcast will greatly affect Netflix’s communication through very narrow gateways by making the viewing of shows very shabby and scratchy, which will then cause people to have to pay even more in order to upgrade to obtain a better and clearer viewing. In my opinion, this is just another way for our society to make money off its citizens. This situation is again a reflection of our society’s “business-oriented” obsession. It is evident that nothing these days will ever come for free and it is disappointing to see that our society’s only real focus is how to squeeze another penny out of any given situation, such as Netflix in this case. If monopolies such as Comcast or Time Warner’s continue to proceed without competition I fear that our costs will continue to rise and with that our public will slowly deteriorate their perspectives. If our programming is only being distributed through one network then our information, ideas and perspectives will quickly begin to skew in only one direction, which further gives the “superiors” of our society control over not only our viewing but also our thoughts. Lastly, state laws are another barrier on cable barons which also prevent alternative sources of programming from launching and being successful. It seems that it will take determination and leadership to persevere and change these laws and beat these monopolies, similar to the original struggling our society faced when electricity was originally launched.
On the Media Response- Cable Barons