How is it possible that a single company can be America’s biggest cable television provider, its largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) and also own a major motion picture and television studio (NBC-Universal)? What happens when that company is allowed to get even bigger by gobbling up another huge ISP and cable provider?
At first, I was thrilled to be discussing something other than Taylor Swift and Spotify, but then I got a bit annoyed at the binary nature of the debate. Those in support of Albini tended to be musicians from older generations who in earlier years struggled with basic issues like access to audiences. Those moved by Steinhardt tended to be disillusioned about the economics of music today, accompanied by a general fatigue that comes with trying to cut through a noisy marketplace.
I won’t rehash the points made by either gentleman (which you can read here and here). Both critiques are relevant in the sense that they describe aspects of the challenges and opportunities of making a life in music. However, in both pieces there is a tendency towards totalizing one’s individual experience—however valid—and applying that to the music community writ large. This leaves a lot out, including other genres, genders, cultures, races, ages, business approaches and creative ambitions.
WASHINGTONDC— The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) submitted formal opposition today to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to deny the transaction. In 2010, both WGAW and FMC raised concerns about the vertical integration between Comcast and NBC Universal. Both organizations urged the FCC to adopt strong conditions to protect content creators, consumers and competition. But, in the three years following the merger, Comcast has used its market power to harm content competitors on both traditional and online content platforms.
The proposed acquisition of TWC, even with nominal divestitures to Charter and Spinco, will magnify the harms that have occurred in the last three years and will hinder the development of a diverse and competitive media market. The Guild and the Coalition assert that because the deal would grant an unprecedented amount of power to a single entity, harm consumers and create a serious threat to competition in the video and broadband marketplaces, it does not meet the FCC’s criteria for serving the public interest.
Creators gotta stick together. That’s why Future of Music Coalition is proud to join Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block the proposed merger between cable and internet behemoth Comcast and the slightly smaller behemoth Time Warner Cable (TWC).
We probably don’t have to tell you that both companies routinely win the top (dis)honor for worst customer service. What might be new information is how much control Comcast already has over what you see and hear. If the company is permitted to acquire TWC, they’ll possess unparalleled power over the future for music and video.
Our joint petition to deny the merger, filed before the FCC on August 25, 2014, makes the case that a combined company would reduce opportunities for creators of all kinds—including the folks that write for television and movies, as well as musicians and composers.
On August 25, 2014, Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Future of Music Coalition (FMC) submitted formal opposition to the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to deny the transaction. In 2010, both WGAW and FMC raised concerns about the vertical integration between Comcast and NBC Universal. Both organizations urged the FCC to adopt strong conditions to protect content creators, consumers and competition. But, in the three years following the merger, Comcast has used its market power to harm content competitors on both traditional and online content platforms.
The proposed deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is the latest in a wave of major media mergersdrawing public concern and scrutiny from the feds. Deals like AT&T’s reported acquisition of Direct TV for $50 billion and Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion, along with last year’sMaker Studios buyout by Disney—also near the billion dollar mark—are part of a larger trend of corporate consolidation. The Comcast Time Warner deal itself could be upwards of $45 billion, but is not the biggest deal Time Warner has been a part of. The Time Warner/AOL Online deal in 2000 was the largest merger by value ever announced, coming in at over $186 billion.
Beyond the staggering dollar figures are very real antitrust and public policy concerns. Let’s look at what it means for creators and fans when just a few companies control so much of the media, technology and entertainment universe.
Interim Executive Director Casey Rae Speaks to MN Musicians and Composers
Monday, March 10, 2014
Good morning. Thank you for all for being here, and thank you for having me at the Minnesota Music Summit. It’s truly an honor to be joining you at this amazing event. Today, I want to explore the future of music, which is still being written, and which you all can play a part in writing. Some of the issues I’ll be bringing up will no doubt be familiar to you. Others may not be as familiar. But it’s not just about me giving some prepared remarks, it’s about dialog. It’s about the very real connections between people who are passionate about music, who create it and nurture it. And those are the connections that I love to make. In 2014, there’s no single approach to being a musician or composer, so it’s become critical that we listen and learn from one another.
You might think a two-time Grammy-nominee more than once named America’s Best DJ by DJ Times would be immune to label pressures. But as DJ and producer Kaskade explained in a series of tweets last month, that’s not the case. The frequent festival headliner (real name: Ryan Raddon) announced he is “in between labels,” leaving behind former label/publisher/mangement company Ultra Music (part owned by major label Sony): read more
The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable into a telecommunications behemoth is the media equivalent of “too big to fail” banking. If the largest cable provider in the United States is allowed to merge with the second-largest, people living in major cities, suburbs and small towns across the country will find themselves even more tightly locked into a dysfunctional relationship with a monopolistic corporation focused on maximizing profits rather than serving local citizens. At the same time, the new cable giant will own national news, entertainment, sports and Spanish-language networks.
On February 12, 2014, news broke that Comcast, already America’s biggest Internet service provider and video distributor, would attempt to buy Time Warner Cable for 45.2 billion dollars. The deal would impact everything from internet access and pricing to how media is delivered.
The following statement is from FMC Interim Executive Director Casey Rae: read more