FP Conferences

The airwaves belong to all of us. Broadcasters don’t pay a cent for their use of this valuable public resource. They are required to do only one thing in return: help fulfill the news and information needs of the communities in which they broadcast. But here's where things get tricky. Just a handful of media corporations own almost all of our local media outlets. Our TV and radio stations used to be mom-and-pop operations, but over the years that diverse, locally responsive media system has been reduced to a few mega conglomerates that control the vast majority of what we read, see and hear in the media. For decades these corporations have had a dramatic influence at the Federal Communications Commission, which has made policy that serves corporate needs rather than the public interest. There are all sorts of benefits to a competitive media landscape. The more independent outlets a community has, the more different viewpoints will be presented on the air. But what happens when there’s no one to compete with? When one company owns everything in your town, it can cut staff and not worry about getting scooped by a competitor. The fewer reporters there are on the streets, the less journalism there is on the news. The fewer DJs there are at your local radio station, the more automated computers and pre-programmed playlists take over. The FCC sets limits on how much of your local media one company can own. These limits are designed to encourage stations to compete with one another to provide quality journalism. To preserve the benefits of competition, the FCC should not allow one company to own broadcast outlets and the major daily newspaper in the same town. The FCC should also recognize that one company controlling multiple stations is the same as one company owning multiple stations. Our ownership chart reveals exactly who owns what. It’s time to change what’s wrong with this picture.


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February 26, 2014

San Jose Mercury NewsNetflix's agreement to pay Comcast for smoother streaming of movies and TV shows marks the end of an era for the Internet. It should send shivers down the spines of anybody who relies on online information.
BloombergThis week, Comcast Corp. announced a deal under which it will charge Netflix Inc. for the right to deliver streaming video directly into Comcast's physical network. This is a game-changer: America's largest cable network is building a moat around its system and can now charge connecting networks for the privilege of sending traffic to its users. The FCC needs to get on the case. Otherwise, high-capacity innovative uses of the Internet in U.S. will be subject to an arbitrary Comcast tax.
Washington PostWill Netflix pass the cost of its new Comcast agreement onto its own customers? If so, would that cost be tripled or quadrupled if Netflix then signs separate deals with other Internet providers, such as Verizon? It's hard to say. Neither Netflix nor Comcast is talking specifics about the deal, but it has spawned a great deal of speculation on the issue.
AdWeekThe FCC could be close to a long overdue review of media ownership rules come March, and there’s bad news for media owners: Early indications are that the new chairman Tom Wheeler is likely to propose tightening them.
The GuardianConsumer groups and media watchdogs expressed “grave concerns” about Netflix’s landmark pact with cable giant Comcast for improved Internet service.
Bloomberg NewsFree Press President and CEO Craig Aaron, Streamingmedia.com Executive Vice President Dan Rayburn and Bloomberg’s Alex Sherman discuss Netflix’s deal to pay Comcast for more direct access to its broadband network and what that means for consumers.

February 21, 2014

Amy KroinFebruary 21, 2014 This weekend on C-SPAN’s The Communicators, Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron explains why the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal spells nothing but trouble.
New York TimesOnly a few hours had passed after the $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable was announced when an early voice emerged endorsing the deal. “Win-win situation for American businesses,” said the statement from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It was the start of what Comcast executives acknowledge will be a carefully orchestrated campaign, as the company will seek hundreds of such expressions of support for the deal — from members of Congress, state officials and leaders of nonprofit and minority-led groups — as it tries to nudge federal authorities to approve the merger.
New York PostGet ready for a cable-style blackout of video-streaming darling Netflix.
Washington PostOne thing is certain about Comcast’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable: It doesn’t pass the smell test. Comcast claims that the combination of the two largest cable companies will somehow enhance, rather than diminish, competition and lead to greater consumer satisfaction. Don’t worry, Godzilla will play nice on the playground.
Huffington PostThough the proposal unveiled by Comcast earlier this week to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion might look sexy at first glance -- a closer look reveals the proposed merger's ugly side.
New York TimesOf the many benefits that Comcast executives said would flow to consumers from its proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable — more innovation, advanced technology, improved service — the one it did not mention is probably the one consumers care about most: their cable bills.

February 13, 2014

Comcast + Time Warner Cable = Disaster Comcast just announced that it’s buying Time Warner Cable. If approved, this outrageous deal would create a television and Internet colossus like no other. Tell the FCC and the DoJ to stop this merger. Take Action Now!

February 12, 2014

Free Press: Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger Would Be a Disaster for ConsumersFebruary 12, 2014Contact Info:  Jenn Topper, 202-265-1490 ext. 35 WASHINGTON — According to press reports late Wednesday night, Comcast is preparing to announce a $44 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable. The proposed takeover would unite the nation's largest cable TV and Internet service provider with the second-largest cable company. The combined companies would offer service to two-thirds of U.S. homes. The deal would have to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department. Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement: "In an already uncompetitive market with high prices that keep going up and up, a merger of the two biggest cable companies should be unthinkable. This deal would be a disaster for consumers and must be stopped. "This deal would give Comcast control of more than a third of the U.S. pay-TV market and more than half of the U.S. triple-play market for video, voice and Internet service. Comcast will have unprecedented market power over consumers and an unprecedented ability to exert its influence over any channels or businesses that want to reach Comcast's customers. "No one woke up this morning wishing their cable company was bigger or had more control over what they could watch or download. But that — along with higher bills — is  the reality they'll face tomorrow unless the Department of Justice and the FCC do their jobs and block this merger. Stopping this kind of deal is exactly why we have antitrust laws. "Americans already hate dealing with the cable guy — and both these giant companies regularly rank among the worst of the worst in consumer surveys. But this deal would be the cable guy on steroids — pumped up, unstoppable and grasping for your wallet." BroadbandCableMedia ConsolidationThe FCC and Media Policy

December 20, 2013

TechCrunchNews Corp is raising its game in digital news again: The company has just announced that it is acquiring Storyful, an Ireland-based “village square” for social media news, aggregating stories found on social media networks like Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and verifying the sources in the process. The price is $25 million.

December 19, 2013

Timothy KarrDecember 19, 2013 Given60 Minutes’s recent missteps, one has to wonder whether its commitment to quality — or even basic fact-checking — remains strong.

December 17, 2013

ReutersThe Federal Communications Commission has withdrawn a proposal to relax the ban on owning several media outlets in the same media market, an FCC official said on Tuesday. For decades, U.S. media markets have operated under rules that prohibit one owner from controlling both a newspaper and a television or radio station in a single market.

December 12, 2013

Seattle TimesToo many local stations are getting bought up by a handful of companies too quickly. The result is less news and information from different viewpoints — and a weakened democracy.
Los Angeles TimesTribune Co. is moving forward with the spinoff of its newspaper unit by submitting preliminary paperwork to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

December 10, 2013

Timothy KarrDecember 10, 2013 2013 could mark the end of the era of Internet openness. If, as many expect, a federal appeals court rules to allow an Internet payola system, phone and cable companies will start to prioritize access to the few online sites and services that can afford to pay them extra.