Big Brother Spins Off "Big"

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Remember the good old days, when Internet companies could just gobble up entire packs of Old Media dinosaurs at will? Well here's a funny story from a couple days back:

Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons said he'd consider spinning off AOL as a separate stock if the division's latest strategy doesn't pan out, according to the latest issue of Fortune magazine.

And what's this "latest strategy" for conqueror-turned-loser America Online? "The goal is to launch a free 'portal' Web site." It's 1999 all over again, except without the money and optimism!

And it's another nail in the coffin of media-consolidation Chicken Littles who rarely meet a merger they don't like to call dictatorial. As I wrote just after AOL's brief swallowing of Time Warner,

If this is the "new totalitarianism" (as [Norman] Solomon has suggested), then we're the freest slaves in the history of tyranny.

And as I reminisced two years later:

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, warned The Associated Press about "a new era in American communications that sees the end of an independent press." Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell thundered against "the monopoly of ideas that rests in the wicked little hands of a sullied few." Two days later, columnist Robert Scheer, writing in the Online Journalism Review, groused it was time to "forget the Internet as a wild zone of libertarian freedom."

And so much for that. What are the Media Consolidation fear-mongers doing in the wake of their awful predictions? Holding a National Conference for Media Reform to agitate against FCC deregulation. (Top link via The Progress & Freedom Foundation.)

NEXT: Great Moments in HuffPostery

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  1. I sometimes wonder why monopolies are such a concern for lefties. Are they still hung up on Standard Oil? And why are some monopolies desirable (as seen in the claim that drug company competition is “wasteful”).

    In free markets monopolies are hard if not impossible to find. Monopolies and cartels can only survive when they get in bed with government to make competition (or product substitution) illegal.

    Media consolidation and Microsoft’s strategies are signs of decline, not market power.

  2. Two very fine articles. As you so poignantly pointed out in your column written four years ago, these companies “in the media/entertainment/Internet juggernaut biz, no longer deserve our craven respect”. That was true back then, and is even more so today. CNN and the rest of the MSM giants have since degenerated into being slightly more useful and not much more entertaining than elevator music.

    I’m just kind of puzzled at your comment that the New York Times is a great paper, or at least was back then.

  3. “Monopolies and cartels can only survive when they get in bed with government to make competition (or product substitution) illegal.”

    Good thing that never happens.

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