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The Supreme Court once championed antitrust laws as valued tools to limit corporate power and to promote the autonomy, diversity and economic rights of people and firms without power. Not anymore.

Chase should immediately open its archives to slavery researchers.

Jeremy Rifkin wants to rock the world of the jaded reader: He predicts that we're entering a completely new--the final--stage of capitalism.

So Ford now says the SUV
Is very bad for you and me.
It slurps gas to a fare-thee-well,
And makes the earth as hot as hell.
Its weight means any car it hits

In a small brick house strung year-round with Christmas lights, behind curtains made of flowered sheets, Jeremiah Smith is listening to his favorite preacher on the radio.

This spring the topic of antitrust returned to the headlines after a long absence as the government pursued and won (for the time being) its case against Microsoft and, in a more muted way, as Ti

* * *

When legendary media critic A.J. Liebling issued that warning some
decades ago about the corrosive effect of media monopolies on the First
Amendment, media ownership was a great deal more varied than it is today.

Even then, it was far more concentrated in a few hands than when the
Bill of Rights was written, when "the press" was a low-capital venture,
and newspapers were easily launched by those who had something to say.
The founding fathers hardly anticipated today's media market, in which
journalism is a vehicle for mega-corporate profits, and the diversity of
opinion implied in the First Amendment is threatened less by a king or the
state and far more by the motives of media barons.

Nowadays, media mega-mergers are the rage, and the Bush Administration
is determined to remove legal barriers to media conglomeration that long
have prevented a few giant corporations from controlling all of print and
broadcast journalism. But can we count on the very news organizations
whose owners are zealously pursuing profit from those mergers to also
objectively cover the implications of media concentration for a free
society?

The initial signs aren't promising. When America Online purchased Time
Warner in the biggest media merger in US history, there was
considerable analysis of the deal's business aspects but meager attention
to implications for a representative democracy of having a significant
portion of its media controlled by one corporation.

Previously, one could assume that Time magazine, AOL and CNN, as well
as other parts of the new conglomerate, at least reflected the voices of
different owners, but that's no longer the case. Also, with that merger,
AOL went from being an outsider company demanding open access to cable to
being the second-largest cable operator. Suddenly it muted its open
access demand, leaving the perception that the news outlets now assembled
under the AOL banner might also have had a change of heart as to what's
important in the cable controversy.

Most recently, the new Bush FCC appointees relaxed a long-standing
"dual network rule" barring one television network from buying another.
The result is that Viacom, which owns CBS, will have a large stake in the
UPN network. Will other broadcasters anticipating similar deals permit
their news organizations to voice dissenting opinions, or launch
investigations of the FCC's abandonment of its consumer watchdog role?

Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch has made clear his intention to purchase
DirecTV from General Motors. If he succeeds, he'll combine the largest
US satellite broadcaster with his existing satellite network, which is
pervasive in much of the rest of the world. Will journalists laboring in
his vast empire dare raise troubling questions about the danger of one
man holding such overwhelming power in the world communications market?

Further, Bush's new FCC chairman, Michael Powell, promises to
eliminate the 1975 prohibition against cross-ownership--a company owning
a TV station and newspaper in the same market. That might prove immensely
profitable to the Tribune Co., which, in purchasing the Times Mirror Co.
last year, acquired newspapers in three markets where Tribune already
owned television stations. But is cross-ownership healthy for independent
journalism in those markets, which include New York and Los Angeles? Will
the news outlets that are subsidiaries in the deal fully examine the
journalistic implications of media concentration? Or will they only
report on the wonders of what the owners celebrate as "convergence" or
"synergy"?

The answer suggested by the last election is that media have
difficulty covering themselves fully when the owners' financial interests
are seriously in play. How else can one explain the scant attention paid
to the difference between Al Gore--who opposed cross-ownership--and
George W. Bush on this issue?

Also ignored in the coverage was the stake that media moguls had in
the Democrats not gaining control of Congress. Had that happened, John
Dingell (D-Mich.) would be chairing the House Commerce Committee, which
oversees the work of the FCC. Dingell was on record as opposing the
Tribune purchase of Times Mirror because such mergers lead to a "huge
concentration of power in a small group of hands."

That's why Dingell and others believe that government regulation to
preserve a diverse media market is essential. The rules concerning media
ownership were not carelessly drawn up over the preceding decades to
inconvenience the media industry. Rather, they were designed to save the
media business from its worst instincts.

Regulation is a reminder that there is a public interest in the news
media as in no other industry because corporate concentration threatens
the competition vital to an unfettered press. The free press belongs to
us all and not just to the few who own one.

Despite all the palaver, the denouement came quickly.

8,5000 Years of LEAD...
79 Years of LEADED Gasoline

BC:

Only a few days before the announcement of the AOL-Time Warner merger, Time Warner chief executive Gerald Levin took part in a CNN discussion on the future of the media.

Blogs

While the tech world fawns over the new iPhone 6, labor abuses abound at an Apple factory in China.

September 10, 2014

More than 1 million comments have been submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission calling on the agency to require that corporations disclose political spending to their shareholders.

September 5, 2014

Thanks to corporate inversions, many highly profitable companies are stiffing the United States government of billions of dollars that could be used to fund vital social programs. Tell President Obama to stop corporate deserters.

August 14, 2014

America stands to lose a great deal more from inversion deals from companies President Obama calls “corporate deserters.”

August 13, 2014

Activists want to draw attention to some of the most predatory financial companies.

August 12, 2014

Why that’s a win for media diversity.

August 7, 2014

“This is exactly why we need Net Neutrality. We don’t want to live in a world where Comcast or AT&T gets to decide which side of the story you see.”

August 1, 2014

Progressives need a counterweight to the ALEC, one built and operated with progressive values in mind. And soon, we might have one.

July 29, 2014

Staples is at the center of a highly controversial “public-private partnership” deal to turn its counters into quasi-post offices. 

July 28, 2014

A new study finds board quotas don’t improve conditions for the average working woman, but they do the job of giving women more representation among powerful roles.

July 7, 2014