Screw the FCC… Bring Back the Antitrust Division!

by Norman Horowitz

If a part of our media seems good to me,
It’s the radio, the newspapers, and free TV.
Cable would be better without Fox, you see,
‘Cause I just need CNN and MSNBC.
CBS and Comcast still have a ball
‘Cause the FCC allows them to have it all.
Disney and Viacom, they want it too,
As long as the FCC lets them screw
The public sector that moans and cries
When all they get from NewsCorp are great big lies.
Warner Brothers want more of it too,
While Americans like me and you
Suffer from the power of all of them.
They want it all and they says amen
To rules and regs; they got their way.
Too bad about the public; they can always pray
To a God who is not with us, not here, not now
It’s with money and power that they all know how
To con the system, and they always want more,
And the politics of it all are just a bore.
What you watch and what you see
In the movies and on TV
Comes from a system that got that way
‘Cause money wants company and will always hold sway.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to change federal rules that limit companies from owning TV and radio stations in the same market. For a bonus, he also wants to do the same for TV stations and newspapers. He’s circulating a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would eliminate the TV/newspaper restriction in the 20 largest markets. Genachowski’s proposal is similar to what the former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin pushed through in 2008.

I say: Bring back competition, diversity, and localism!

I’m Only Thinking of Him

by Norman Horowitz

I’m trying to imagine the moment when that itsy bitsy company AT&T decided, “Hey, we’re only grossing $124 billion. We only have 300,000 employees. Our assets are only worth $268 billion. Why don’t we go out and ‘eat’ another company? Why not T-Mobile? They only have 34 million customers. Their gross income is a paltry $21 billion.”

Have you seen the TV commercials advertising how great it’ll be if these two companies operate as one rather than — God forbid — competing with one another? This will be good for America, they always say, just like the previous “consolidations” that allowed CBS to be gobbled up by Viacom, ABC to be consumed by the Walt Disney Company, NBC by Comcast, and of course Fox by News Corp. They are, like Antonia in Man of La Mancha, only thinking of us.

Actually, those mergers were not good for America. Our purported “regulators” sided, as they almost always do, with “the regulated,” and everyone won…except the public.   Continue reading “I’m Only Thinking of Him”

What’s the Use of Having Power if You Don’t Abuse It?

by Norman Horowitz

When I was at MGM, the person in charge of selling pay television (Jim) called me from Toronto to tell me that the Canadian pay TV buyer (John) had said that he could only buy rights to 18 of our pictures for the coming year. He was saving the rest of his money to buy independent films that he liked.

My obnoxious reply was, “Please tell John that there are two numbers of pictures available to him from MGM and that’s all of them or none of them.” Jim told me that John had told him that I would say just that.

I had the power, and I abused it. Why? Because there was no one to stop me!   Continue reading “What’s the Use of Having Power if You Don’t Abuse It?”