Chicago will play host to an FCC public forum on the proposed Comcast/NBC merger to be held on Thursday, July 13th, from 1pm to 8pm at Northwestern University Law School in downtown Chicago. This was the same locale where seven years ago a bunch of us gathered to discuss media concentration in a more general sense, at the Midwest Forum on Media Ownership in the run-up to the dramatic media ownership uprising of 2003.
The stakes couldn't be higher. The major corporate media have been slightly deconcentrating in recent years, and corporations are checking out of the journalism game, but if Comcast completes its proposed buyout of NBC/Universal from General Electric, that could foretell a trend where internet service providers -- phone and cable companies -- could buy up content media producer conglomerates.
If the merger goes through, you can expect the following:
* Comcast/NBC will kneecap of Hulu
* Comcast/NBC will censor your blog
* Comcast/NBC will shut out black-owned cable networks
* Comcast/NBC will be racist
And Comcast is doing everything it can to make sure the deal goes through:
* Comcast is deploying a massive lobbying army, including 78 former government employees
* Comcast is paying coin-operated think tanks to deliver reports that, unsurprisingly, support the acquisition of NBC Universal
bought off convinced the governors of Pennsylvania, California, and New York to support the merger
But there's a lot of resistance to the proposed merger: * ...by members of Congress
* ...by media advocacy groups
* by the House Judiciary Committee (or at least certain members of the committee)
* ...by sports fans, including fans of the Olympics
Past hearings like can often seem like pro forma events, like the broadband event in Chicago held just four days before Christmas 2009. But don't dismiss the potential of such events -- it can help raise awareness, build momentum, and coupled with an FCC quadrennial media ownership review coming soon and investors feeling lackluster about the merger, and recent history of public involvement changing the calculus on media ownership matters, the future is yet to be lived.
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