What Comes Around Goes Around:
The ATT Times-Warner Mega Merger
If you think Baby Bells are a new form of pocket cheese, let me fill you in.
Up to the 1980’s, AT&T which stands for American Telephone and Telegraph (yep, it all started with Morse, folks) didn’t just run the phone service in this country; it WAS the phone service. This was eons before the only mobile communications device was the SciFi Dick Tracy watch worn by a popular cartoon detective of the era. Plus, ATT owned Western Electric which manufactured the phones themselves (the old fashioned kind, what we call today landlines). By the way, Western Electric was also where the transistor which made possible most of today’s technology and eventually put Western Electric out of business was born.
Well, the feds finally deemed the whole thing monopolistic and ordered ATT broken up into smaller regional phone companies which were nicknamed “Baby Bells.” Some flourished like New York Bell which became Verizon and now is ATT’s chief competitor in the cellphone game; others, in less populated parts of the country, languished and merged for survival.
Fast forward to today.
After being fought by the Obama Administration, the mega merger between ATT and Times-Warner, a major player in the media world, went through like a greased pig under Trump. This means the same company that produces much of what we see and read (Times Warner) now controls the major sources for distributing it (ATT and DirecTV that ATT also owns ). Experts believe this precedent setting merger will be followed by many similar type set-ups in other industries, in other words, one megacorp having the whole pie.
Back in the late forties, the feds went after the film industry and deemed that studios like MGM which produced product could not be owned by the companies that distributed the product, in MGM’s case, the Lowe’s Theater chain, and ordered them broken up. That decision was one of the nails in the coffin of the old Hollywood along with the advent of television.
Yet by its clearing the way for an ATT/Times Warner merger, the feds are allowing just that: production of product and distribution of same by the same company. So what was considered bad in 1948 or 1984 is just fine in 2018. Only multiply its size and influence by a million.
Wanna see how much your smartphone, tablet, wifi, cable and satellite bills go up when competition becomes a four letter word?
And when what we hear and see is controlled by a few, how long will freedom of speech and diversity of opinion survive?