Another Merger That Didn't Require Antitrust: Time Warner to Ditch Time


Yer on your own, Satan! ||| CREDIT: Fair use
CREDIT: Fair use

So, Time Warner, that shorn-off husk of the former AOL Time Warner, is now planning to shear off the foundational magazine division of the conglomerate, Time Inc., into a new company whose grim fortunes can no longer weigh down the parent.

Given how much antitrust regulation is back in the news, it's worth remembering how badly media-consolidation hysterics got the original AOL Time Warner merger wrong, advocating for what would have been a wholly unnecessary antitrust action against the alleged Big Brother. Here's a paragraph on that topic from The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America:

Every journalism school should—but doesn't—present the hysterical reaction to the AOL Time Warner merger as Example A of why journalists are often the very worst analysts of their own industry. As the deal was unfolding in 2000, the still-ubiquitous media-ethics scold Tom Rosenstiel warned about "a new era in American communications that sees the end of an independent press." The even more influential Robert McChesney, who is one of the key people in the push to have the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet, predicted confidently that "the eventual course of the Internet—the central nervous system of our era—will be determined by where the most money can be made, regardless of the social and political implications." We were two of the only media commentators to laugh off the fear and cast doubt on the conglomerate's future in real time. In April 2000, Nick Gillespie noted that large mergers more often fail than succeed and argued, "The moment [the new company] stops doing whatever its customers want, it will join the ranks of Sears Roebuck, A&P, IBM, and other once dominant companies that have either disappeared altogether or linger on as mere shadows of their former selves." Matt Welch wrote that "very few market-leading companies in entertainment or media stay on top for long; most go bankrupt," that "very few mega-mergers between two companies in different businesses ever work, especially when the companies involved are in media and entertainment," and that "the Internet is more tumultuous than any business sector in generations. The mighty are frequently chastened within 24 months." As it turned out, it took about thirty months for AOL Time Warner to begin to dissolve.

Never forget: "The Top 10 Most Absurd Time Covers of The Past 40 Years."