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One of the best people to leave the Obama adminstration, Susan Crawford has been devoting a considerable amount of time to fighting the Comcast - NBC merger.

Recently, she explained a key problem -- one that explains why NBC would fire Olbermann -- in the blog post: Comcast/NBCU: Who answers Fox News?.

She wrote:

Here’s an undeniable problem:  What happens to MSNBC post-merger?  Right now, it’s providing the only response to Fox News.  Comcast won’t want to irritate Fox - you can’t be a pay-TV distributor without Fox News, in the same way that you can’t be a pay-TV distributor without ESPN.  Fox News is a truck running downhill.  It’s a huge player.  Comcast has already shown that it will fire reporters that irritate Fox.

We knew this was going to happen as the merger approached. Think Progress wrote UPDATED: Before Bush Donor Takeover Of MSNBC, Network Selectively Applies Rules To Suspend Olbermann:

Late last year, Comcast — the nation’s largest cable provider and second largest Internet service provider — inked a deal taking over NBC Universal, the parent company of MSNBC. Comcast moved swiftly to reshuffle MSNBC’s top staff. On September 26th of this year, Comcast announced perhaps the most dramatic shift, replacing longtime MSNBC chief Jeff Zucker with Comcast executive Steve Burke [Updated: The shift from Zucker to Burke has not taken place yet -- Burke will preside over MSNBC once the Comcast merger is complete. We have been informed that no Comcast officials are currently involved in the decisions of NBC or MSNBC.]. Burke has given generous amounts to both parties — providing cash to outgoing Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) as well as to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and other top Republicans. But as Public Citizen has noted, Burke has deep ties to the Republican Party. Public Citizen’s report reveals that Burke served as a key fundraiser to President George Bush, and even served on Bush’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology

Comcast has always been anti-progressive. Last year, it removed MSNBC from regular cable but kept Fox News. Here's a dailykos diary from August 2009: Updated...Comcast favors Fox News, charges $204 more for MSNBC package. ACTION NEEDED.

As of 8.12.09, Comcast has moved MSNBC from its Digital Starter Package to its Digital Classic Lineup while leaving Fox News on the Starter package. What this means is that one now has to pay an additional $17 per month ($204 per year) to view anything progressive enough to even remotely balance out FNC's right wing extremism

The bottom line:

As Crawford noted above, Comcast is already being sued by an anchor who was fired for criticizing O'Reilly:

The business interests of Comcast and the News Corporation were brought to light in a lawsuit by Barry Nolan, a Comcast employee whose protest of Mr. O’Reilly cost him a $200,000-a-year job two years ago. Mr. Nolan later protested his firing, and last month, he lost the case.

In an extensive review of Mr. Nolan’s case for the Columbia Journalism Review in August, the writer Terry Ann Knopf asserted that Mr. Nolan’s firing reflected the "corrosive influence of over-concentrated corporate power."

For Crawford's detailed analysis of the full impact of the merger, see her comments in Chicago from the summer.

It's several pages, but it starts with this:

By virtue of its control over must-have NBCU content, taken in concert with its existing control over 25% of the video distribution market and its standing as the nation’s largest high-speed Internet access provider, Comcast will be able to work with programmers to ensure that the growth of alternative online distribution mechanisms for video is slowed and the emergence of competing high-speed Internet access facilities (that might facilitate the growth of competing online video marketplaces) is blocked.

Originally posted to agoldnyc on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:19 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (30+ / 0-)

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:19:22 PM PDT

  •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rb608, Rich in PA

    You mean that we can get Olbermann rehired we should stop a merger of two of the largest corporations in the country?  Isn't that something on the order of swimming intot he ocean in order to stop a cruise so that the lounge singer can get back on board?

  •  Could be a gift that ignites popular action (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agoldnyc, highacidity, Vtdblue

    at the FCC...

    This deserves noise, and a recommendation.

    "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

    by Mogolori on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:31:42 PM PDT

    •  Yeah right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rich in PA

      That might happen.

      •  Action at the FCC against media M&A's made (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        agoldnyc, highacidity, Spekkio, Vtdblue

        some headway in the early '00s, without a cause celebre like Olbermann.  This could be as leggy as media protest gets.

        Olbermann has friends in Hollywood, too.

        "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

        by Mogolori on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:37:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, at minimum, we, his friends, need a shit (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chipoliwog, agoldnyc, Spekkio

          storm of protest to fall on their neo-con asses for this.  Back when Donahue got fired, the progressive movement was really in its infancy, and we had no clout whatsoever. But now, there is much more ability to truly effect their publicity and bottom line -- IF we are willing to go to the mat for Keith.

          I'm certainly ready to roll with whatever it takes. This must not stand.

          [Conservatives are] engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; ...the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. JK Galbrai

          by Vtdblue on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:41:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I don't understand the logic here (0+ / 0-)

    It's Fox that can't do anything to irritate Comcast rather than vice-versa.  Without access to Comcast, FNC doesn't exist in Comcast-served regions.  If anything, the antitrust case against the Comcast-NBC merger is that it would be prejudicial to the interests of companies like Fox.

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:38:28 PM PDT

    •  The content providers have the power (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      highacidity, pelagicray, pvmuse

      ... which is why Comcast wants to buy NBC. Crawford explains in detail in the long testimony that is the last link in the diary.

      "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

      by agoldnyc on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:40:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The only content providers who have had power (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        limpidglass, pelagicray

        ...vs. carriers are sports providers, e.g. Fox during the World Series or the NFL network on Thursdays.  A news channel has no leverage at all.

        The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

        by Rich in PA on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:42:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  BTW, Comcast is the third largest phone company (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, Brecht, daysey

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:45:25 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, I tried to get away from them, but I don't (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      agoldnyc, daysey

      have another provider for the internet. The phone companies cannot provide reliable service, and I have been stuck with Comcast. Talk about an evil monopoly.

      My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me. Benjamin Disraeli

      by pvmuse on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 06:48:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It would be great if it could be stopped though (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agoldnyc, highacidity, Brecht

    chances are it won't be but in the meantime maybe we can irritate them like gnats for a while. I emailed.. david_cohen@comcast.com ..he is a senior vice president and I figure if nothing else his secretary will know that there are some people concerned about their link to rupert murdoch and Phil Anschutz. What the hell

  •  Wanna save America? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brecht

    Stop corporations.

    For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

    by Paul Goodman on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 07:04:12 PM PDT

  •  corporate control of media = threat to democracy (5+ / 0-)

    this has nothing to do with Olberman's behavior.

    the more that a tiny corporate plutocracy controls the major media outlets, the more that you're going to see corporate policy silencing that dissent.

    "There has been an abdication of responsibility within the profession, most particularly in the networks. . . ." D Halberstam

    by al75 on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 07:15:43 PM PDT

    •  You're spot on - It's about information content.. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      agoldnyc, highacidity, Brecht

      And what will be available to the masses in terms of the truth.

      "I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean I love the country but I can't stand the scene." - Leonard Cohen (Democracy)

      by LamontCranston on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 07:28:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It has been steadily twisting the entire nation (4+ / 0-)

      with a massive consolidation in print media that is being equaled in the electronic. "News" is now fairly rare with opinion being substituted and much of the opinion that of the FOX sort that has no regard for facts or truth, makes its own reality so to speak, vice Keith and Rachel with strong opinion and a respect for fact.

      Unfortunately we have a population weaned, literally, on television advertising and conditioned to be pretty uncritically accepting. Deep down in my bones I have doubts recovery is possible short of a disaster so severe that we are as close to popular revolution as the one from which FDR saved capitalism. There are bright spots as in 2006, the break from a period in which I felt I would not live long enough to see sanity restored, and then 2008--then the ADD, impatient ones walk away and we have the election of this week.

      This shit did not happen overnight. "They" began fighting FDR and never stopped, came back a bit with St. Ronnie and have been on a roll since. It was that element pushing to take the "brakes" off media businesses, drop the "regulations" and rules. Ease up on limiting one interest owning all the print and electronic media in an area. Anti-business, ineffective and worse they called it. Now we are seeing the pretty disgusting result. No single election can reverse that trend, yet people even here talked of "sitting it out"!

      All the keystrokes on all the blogs, all the letters to NBC/MSNBC, Congress, papers, any eloquence and ability to explain and other efforts are vapor compared to the one moment, the single instant, when we have a tiny bit of real power--our vote. That is when we win or lose and too often we've thrown wins away by abandoning the field before the game is really won.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 08:04:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think I already complained to the FCC... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity

    ...but I have a lousy memory and I'm not 100% sure. I might've said something to the FTC too...not sure. It was a long while ago. But clearly they didn't take the hint....

  •  This is a great diary - thanks for the links. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agoldnyc, highacidity

    So much there that more of us need to know.

    Well done.

    "Problems can't be solved by the same level of thinking that created them" Einstein

    by Brecht on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 07:52:29 PM PDT

  •  I highly recommend reading more of... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PBCliberal, agoldnyc

    ... Crawford's post on her blog.

    For those of you above snarking about how it's futile to try and stop the merger, this post here gives info and links on how there may be a groundswell of protest growing... one we should join:

    Distant thunder

    A few news stories these days signal that review of the Comcast/NBCU joint venture is getting the attention it deserves.  The deal will give Comcast substantial control over the “windowing” of content - timing and pricing of release of highly-valuable cable show and film properties - much to the consternation of studios, programmers, and competing pay-TV distributors.

    Because the rest of the industry knows they’ll have to deal with Comcast in the future, most key actors are unlikely to say anything publicly.  In fact, they’re unlikely to say anything privately to government regulators, for fear that their criticism will come back to them in the form of tougher deals for content in the future.

    So how does the story come out?  How does the staggering, stupendous nature of this venture get adequate play?

    [what follows are snips of articles with links on how questions are being asked... or as the WaPo blogger says, there is now a "bump in the road" for the merger.]

    The linked article at the National Journal refers to a group called the Coalition for Competition in Media... and the list of links to member organizations is the poster child for 'strange bedfellows'--Concerned Women of America and NOW, FreePress and Parents Television Council--being the Odd Couples that made me laugh out loud... and also recalled to me the groups that got together and fought against previous media conglomeration travesties.

    Like when Daily Kos and RedState joined to go to court a few years ago.

    It's not a quixotic fight folks... and perhaps the Olbermann Affair can serve as another bump in the road.

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