Cable Monopoly’s Gain Is Community Media’s Loss: Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger threatens local voices

The below is an excerpt from and article by Network Coordinator Betty Yu, featured on Fair.org.

In February, Comcast announced its proposal to merge with Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion deal between the top two US cable companies. If approved, this unified media company would control a massive television and Internet market of more than 30 million subscribers across the US’s largest media markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. This merger would lead to a single company controlling roughly two-thirds of the cable market, and broadband access for more than one-third of US consumers.

Critics have rightly argued (Bloomberg View1/27/14) that if the merger is approved, customers will experience less choice and higher cable bills as a result of increasing media monopolization. What tends to fly under the radar in this debate are further dangers that disproportionately impact underserved communities: the merger’s likely impact on media diversity and community-based media infrastructures, and Comcast’s ongoing attack on organized labor (IBEW, 12/5/13).

Media consolidation has narrowed the already limited access to the airwaves for women and communities of color. Women own less than 7 percent of all TV and radio station licenses despite being half of the US population. People of color make up over 36 percent of the population but own just over 7 percent of radio licenses and 3 percent of TV licenses (Free Press, 9/06). This affects how the issues that we care about—labor, education, housing, immigration, healthcare, the environment—are covered.

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About the Author

Betty Yu