Read Jenny Beth Martin's letter to Congress on viewpoint discrimination.
companies are consolidating at a rapid pace creating an alarming threat to
the diversity of viewpoints available to America’s TV viewers.
2011, Comcast and NBC Universal merged and in 2018, AT&T and Time
Warner merged creating conglomerates that own both the platform and the
programming. That means Big Media
owns news outlets such as MSNBC or CNN.
Media has too much power. They can favor programming they own and control
over programming produced by competitors.
They can force rivals to carry programming bundles at above-market
rates. The result? Consumers pay
higher prices and competitors are unable to carry the type of programming
their customers want.
Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
concluded that the Comcast NBC-Universal merger would have violated
antitrust laws and only allowed the transaction if the two companies
agreed to a series of conditions, including binding commercial
arbitration, that would limit the bundling of programming and ensure
Comcast offered NBC programing to competitors at a fair price.
Department of Justice raised similar concerns in the AT&T/Time Warner
merger case, but AT&T voluntarily agreed to binding commercial arbitration
to resolve any disputes with competitors over the cost of Time Warner
only a limited number of giant media conglomerates own and control
America’s news and entertainment programming, then the public will receive
fewer points of view. Not only will
consumers have less choice in what they watch, but they will end up paying
more, including for products they don’t want.
Big Media Has Too Much Power
We, the undersigned, believe too much power in the hands of giant media conglomerates is not in the country’s interest. It limits the ability of diverse voices to reach the public and new platforms to compete. It is clear Big Media companies are only looking to grow bigger and gain greater control in the market—and should they be successful in expanding their reach, they would own even more news and entertainment programming, giving them the opportunity to muscle out competition and prioritize their programming and harm consumers.
Vertical Integration Diminishes Diversity of Thought
Over the past decade, several media companies, including AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Time Warner and NBC Universal, have merged or attempted to merge. In almost every case, the DOJ and FCC have either stopped these deals, raised concerns about the competitive harm they would cause, or taken steps to ensure these transactions did not violate antitrust laws.
While it is very much the view of our organization that government intervention in the economy should be limited, what troubles us is the reality that increased consolidation in media will lead to diminished points of view. Whether conveyed by news channels, entertainment channels or otherwise, with the same companies owning both distribution platforms and the programming comes less varied opinions made available to the public—paving the way for one party rule. This trend should raise the ire of any citizen interested in protecting the First Amendment.
Call to Action
We urge you to act so media conglomerates are held accountable for their actions. Oversight of the proposed and existing media mergers is necessary in ensuring fairness, competition and a level playing field for all parties involved. Every entity should have the opportunity to disseminate opinions, not just those with the loudest, most amplified voices.