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.
On July 15, 2014 Future of Music Coalition submitted the following comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s public docket on Net Neutrality. You can submit your own comments at http://www.fcc.gov/comments ; reply comments will be due in mid-September.
The arrival of broadband Internet has reshaped how music is accessed and enjoyed while presenting new challenges and opportunities for creators and the music industries. Though these developments had an early, disruptive initial impact on traditional music business models, there is every reason to believe that Internet-engendered innovations will also pave the way for a brighter future for music, provided that the ability for creative entrepreneurs to reach audiences online is not compromised. read more
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, prominent musicians and songwriters urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish rules to keep the Internet open for creativity and entrepreneurship. In a separate filing, more than two dozen of the America’s most influential arts and culture organizations called for the strongest rules possible to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from picking winners and losers online.
Musicians and songwriters including OK Go, R.E.M., Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Nate Query of the Decemberists, Laura Balance of Superchunk and Merge Records, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Laura Veirs, Rebecca Gates, Martín Perna of Antibalas and Daptone Super Soul Revue and more described the dangers of a “pay-to-play” Internet, where only those with deep pockets can reach audiences without interference.
On July 15, 2014, a consortium of musicians submitted the following joint comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s public docket on Net Neutrality. You can submit your own comments at http://www.fcc.gov/comments or email openinternet [at] fcc [dot] gov; reply comments will be due September 10. Participating musicians included:
Laura Ballance, bass player/ song writer for Superchunk, label owner, Merge Records
Charles Bissell, The Wrens
Rebecca Gates, musician/composer/producer
Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs
Jim James, My Morning Jacket
Cheston Knapp, writer/editor
Sean Meadows, Everlasting the Way
Brett Lyman, co-owner of M’lady’s Records, Machu Picchu Records, and musician (Chain & the Gang, Hive Dwellers)
Neal Morgan, drummer/arranger
Thao Nguyen, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down OK Go
Alec Ounsworth, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Jeff Parker, (guitarist/composer/jazz musician/member of Tortoise)
Tony Perez, Editor, Tin House Books
Martín Perna (saxophone- Antibalas, Daptone Super Soul Revue)
Nate Query, bassist, The Decemberists, Black Prairie REM
John Strohm, musician and attorney
Laura Veirs, singer-songwriter
Michael Wells, Dir. of Ops & Digital Light @ In The Attic Records, bassist for The Walkabouts YACHT
I. Artists Make The Internet Incredible
We file these comments as musicians, songwriters, entrepreneurs, rabble-rousers, advocates, innovators, Internet users and members of the public. Each of us uses the Internet in practically every aspect of our lives and careers, from connecting with fans to booking tours, to selling music and merchandise to collaborating with other artists. Those of us who remember the small army of personnel it took in the old days to do even a couple of the things listed above are grateful for the innovations that have come from an open Internet. read more
On July 15, 2014, a consortium of national arts and culture organizations submitted the following comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s public docket on Net Neutrality. You can submit your own comments at http://www.fcc.gov/comments ; reply comments will be due September 10. Participating organizations included:
Americans for the Arts
American Community Television
American Composers Forum
Association of American Arts Presenters
Chamber Music America
Future of Music Coalition
League of American Orchestras
Independent Film & Television Alliance National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture National Alliance for Musical Theatre National Performance Network Network of Ensemble Theaters New Music USA OPERA America Performing Arts Alliance Sundance Institute Theater Communications Group Writers Guild of America West
In a relatively short period of time, broadband Internet service has inspired tremendous innovation, which has in turn enabled individual artists and arts organizations to reach new audiences, cultivate patrons and supporters, collaborate with peers, stimulate local economies and enrich cultural and civic discourse. read more
Post by Policy Intern Juan Carlos Melendez-Torres and Casey Rae
T-Mobile markets itself as a great liberator within the mobile phone industry through its “UnCarrier” initiatives. But is the company really all that different from other powerful carriers and Internet Service Providers?
On June 18, T-Mobile announced UnCarrier 6.0, which includes new “partnerships” with streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio, iHeartRadio, Slacker, Rhapsody and Milk Music. Under the UnCarrier 6.0 provisions, T-Mobile will not count music streamed on the aforementioned services against their subscribers’ data caps. Using any other online music service—say, Bandcamp or Noisetrade—will result in slowed speeds and potentially, overages.
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Rep. Doris Matsui and Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced a bill called the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, which calls upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take any action required to prevent Internet Service Providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from picking winners and losers in an online free market. read more
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Rep. Doris Matsui and Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced a bill called the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act, which calls upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take any action required to prevent Internet Service Providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from picking winners and losers in an online free market.
The FCC is currently accepting public comments in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on “net neutrality.” The current proposal has received tremendous criticism for what many see as the enactment of a “two-tiered” Internet, in which companies with deep pockets receive priority access to subscribers, while creators and other entrepreneurs are relegated to the slow lane. read more