Tag Archives: Comcast

An Unpredictable Future

Media is constantly changing, evolving, and growing due to the influence of countless factors.  The media today is nothing like the media of ten years ago and the media ten years from now will be nothing like todays.  While knowing what the media of the future will look like is impossible we can look at how media has evolved up to this point, and how other major influences are currently evolving to make assumptions as to what media might look like in the future.

Technology, in my opinion, is the biggest influence on the media currently.  I believe this because of the power it gives media producers and consumers.  It is rapidly evolving, opening new possibilities for media consumption and distribution.  In recent years technology has given the former consumers the power to produce media and to gatewatch more effectively.  This has taken some of the power to gatekeep from the large media producers.  As technology evolves it will continue to change the dynamic between large media companies and the general public, hopefully for the better.

Over the past 50 years one of the most controversial and influential trends in media is the concentration of ownership.  We are down to so few companies owning most of the media that it is hard to imagine ownership getting any more concentrated.  This past week Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, formerly the nations two largest cable companies will soon be one.  As greedy companies like Comcast continue to buy out every competitor how long will it be until our Big 5 become consolidated into a single conglomerate?  While the formation of one mega conglomerate is very unlikely, even the consolidation from five to four major media companies would give each company a great increase of power and influence.

Technology and ownership concentration are just two of many influences on the future of media.  Technology has given more people access to information and the ability for the consumers of media to become producers of media.  With this new increase in information and power the consumers can be better informed.  This will hopefully lead to larger concern about ownership consolidation.  The media has a enormous effect on everyone viewing it, and so it is important for the viewers to have an interest in knowing the truth about that media.  As we move into the future it will be increasingly important to be active viewers.  Looking to the future we can only hope that everyone does their part in staying informed and keeping the media working for the people.

Citizen Journalism and Mergers

Comcast acquired Time Warner Cable this past Thursday for $45 billion.  They are predicted, if all goes as planned and the merger is approved by the federal government, to serve 1 out of every 3 homes in the United States (CNN: Gross).  Many news stations have been covering the new acquisition, and users of social media sites definitely have put in their opinions without hesitation.

CNN’s article titled “What a Comcast-Time Warner deal could mean for you,” written yesterday, summarizes the buyout as well as analyzing the new horizons of possibility for Comcast and Time Warner customers.  One way they look at this subject is using sub-headers such as “Would my bill go up?” and “What about service quality?” that go into what the upcoming changes are to the customers of these service providers.  The author of this article definitely is a gatekeeper, in choosing what topics he finds are important to share with the public, like how the new acquisition will change their service options for the worse, or the better (if you were a Time Warner user).

Social media also allowed many people to vocalize their opinions of this merger.  As social media goes, I will focus on people’s reaction via Twitter.  On a website page called “People Generally Just Really Hate Their Cable Companies,” many consumers of Comcast and Time Warner Cable show their obvious hatred of the merger.  One tweet reads “Comcast / Time Warner merger is like a merger between swine flu and the bubonic plague” (Mashable: Gerhard Stiene) while another tweet reads “Prediction: the Comcast/Time Warner merger talks will be slow, freeze a bunch of times, and eventually have to be restarted.” (Mashable: Matt Goldich).  These tweets, along with the rest of the 23 that are provided on the website are proof that “gatecrashing” is at play here.  Gatecrashing is a phenomenon in which users find other channels, rather than the regular gatekeeping channels, to publicize certain news or opinions.  This website, Mashable.com, provides a place that is not a traditional news outlet for consumers to share what they really think of events that occur.

As goes for this article paired with this user-generated content-style website, I think that they are mutually reinforcing each other.  In the article, it tries to be as objective as possible, but leans towards the acquisition being somewhat problematic for consumers of the individual service providers.  The website contains 23 tweets that show those consumers’ hatred of the new merger.  The article states that, “[w]henever there are mergers of two large customer-service providers…we tend to see quite a few problems…We’d be surprised if a new hybrid Comcast-Time Warner doesn’t produce a lower level of customer satisfaction for a year or two” (CNN: David VanAmberg).  This view is widely held by all of the people who posted tweets concerning the new merger- they feel it will be a terrible endeavor as customers to either one of these service providers.  This viewpoint is definitely apparent in the tweets as well as a slight bias in the news article.

A challenge that is presented by the twitter feeds of multiple people is accuracy.  The tweets presented by unhappy customers of Time Warner and Comcast only show their opinions about the merger or their predictions, not the solid facts of the case like you see in the article on CNN. Though the viewpoints of the article and tweets somewhat coincide, the article on CNN is definitely more informative to consumers.

Sources Cited:

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/13/tech/web/comcast-time-warner-consumer-impact/

Mashable: http://mashable.com/2014/02/13/comcast-time-warner-cable-tweets/

Net Neutrality: The Proper Forms of Regulation

            In order to regulate the constant flow of information, the government created the Federal Communications Commission. While the FCC pretty successfully regulates media such as radio, television, and music, the Internet is such a recent and evolving invention that the FCC has had trouble keeping up. The issue of net neutrality is a perfect example. Net neutrality is the idea that broadband providers should treat all data on the Internet equally and so should not be able to discriminate by user or content. The courts ruled that broadband companies do not have to honor net neutrality, although the FCC has a lot of legislation regarding “fairness” within media outlets. The holding was based off a technicality because the Internet is not currently mentioned in the FCC’s regulation. This means that, theoretically, leading broadband providers such as Comcast could charge consumers extra for certain programs such as Netflix or else slow the connection down to a minuscule speed.

            Many people are highly invested in this issue because it has the potential to affect almost everyone. The Internet service providers are concerned about the issue because they could make a lot of money off of charging people to use certain channels or programs. Additionally, companies such as Netflix have the potential to make less money because companies such as Comcast could charge them to provide their services to consumers. These extra prices could also be passed down to consumers, giving them a large stake in the matter. The court case makes it very clear that the Internet service providers think that they should not have to honor net neutrality. They believe that they should be able to control the speed and access of any type of contact. The FCC, on the other hand, was on the other side so obviously believes the content should be regulated. While the proper regulations, as ruled by the court, are not currently in the legislation, the FCC could potentially add to it in order to include the Internet.

            Overall, I think if Internet service providers are allowed to ignore the concept of net neutrality, then prices for consumers would be outrageous. I think the FCC should and will add an amendment to include the Internet in their legislation. I think it is unfair to allow broadband providers to regulate their content and that people should be able to access most content without discrimination.