Saturday, December 20, 2003

WASHINGTON -- News Corp. won federal approval to take over the satellite television provider DirecTV, a move that federal regulators say will mean more competition but opponents contend will speed media consolidation.

The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines, 3-2, to approve the $6.6 billion deal. Following the FCC's action, announced Friday, the Justice Department said it would not oppose the takeover of the nation's largest satellite TV provider by News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch.

"News Corporation has a history of taking significant risks and introducing new and innovative media services," FCC Chairman Michael Powell said. "Enhanced competition will increase pressure to improve service and lower prices for both cable and satellite television subscribers."

In other words, News Corp (which owns Fox Network, Fox News, and the NY Daily News among many, many other media outlets worldwide) has ordered the Republican party to allow them (or him, if you just wanna stick to Rupert Murdoch, who's calling the shots pretty directly) to purchase a satellite provider, apparently to make sure that they won't lose market share with only broadcast, cable, radio, print and internet resources available to them. News Corp has the Republican party in its pocket, as it's pretty much the only network that can be counted on to spin the news in favor of the fatcats and status quo.

If you remember the stink a few months ago about the FCC passing new rules (quickly barred by a nearly united Congress) that allowed media conglomerates to, along with other things, own more than a 35% share of a market, then you should realize that this is simply an end run around the existing rules. DirecTV is currently in direct competition with cable, which is where Fox (i.e. News Corp) has had its biggest impact. So if the guys who have a big piece of the cable market get involved with satellite, where does this leave the public?

Right. Closer and closer to being in the hands of a media monopoly. Seriously, memorize where NPR lives on your radio dial. Pretty soon it's going to be your only outlet for actual news, as opposed to endlessly jingoistic propaganda.

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