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The Mechanics
« Crime, Cost, and Segregation The Importance of Mobility »

Media Thu Jun 24 2010

Comcast Would Pass Go, Collect $200 Under Daley

Despite the scrutiny of such characters as the Federal Communications Commission, Department of Justice, media advocacy groups and about 1500 Illinoisans who've filed federal complaints, Comcast is licking its lips in anticipation. The hulking media corporation wants to buy the majority of NBC/Universal from GE, and preferably soon, in what would be a $30 billion behemoth slice of the communications industry. Besides the usual fret over media conglomeration and pesky antitrust laws, critics are especially alarmed because the deal would hand the Comcast telecom company, a giant content distributor, control of a near-equally colossal content producer. If the U.S. Postal Service buys your grandmother and her stationary, then charges you extra to receive her letters on time... you get the point.

Mayor Daley likes the sound of it. He's not alone, according to a story filed Wednesday in Crain's Chicago Business:

A group of more than 200 NBC-affiliated local stations -- not including the network's six 'owned and operated' local stations in major markets, such as Chicago's WMAQ-TV/Channel 5 -- said they would support the deal if Comcast agrees to certain conditions, such as continuing to broadcast local sports events rather than switching them to cable-only channels.

It seems everyone's happy so long as the 2012 Olympics and Sunday night NFL games stay put. As for the mayor, there's plenty of room to speculate why he might support Comcast in an election year, besides their being "good corporate citizens." A few unexpected groups have also supported Comcast, like the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council. But others are worried about the potential for price hikes and anti-competitive strategy. The Chicago-represented American Cable Association, for instance, filed comments with the FCC calling for regulatory conditions to be placed on the merger.

Advocacy groups for independent media like Free Press and Chicago Media Action are leading a resistance that's more ideologically tuned. They charge that the Comcast-NBCU deal would violate the core principal of Net Neutrality, the idea that there should be no discrimination in the quality and speed with which web sites and applications are delivered by internet service providers. The network provider market is concentrated in a few enormous telecommunications companies, the three largest being AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, this last one supplying about 95 percent of Chicago's cable viewers. Their ability to slow or stop certain users and sites from connecting online is the issue at stake. Comcast's bid for NBCU is only the latest and largest in a series of recent cases surrounding the issue of Net Neutrality, a new and still undefined body of law that has the power to dramatically alter the content and delivery of the internet, as well as its dependents such as the press.

For now, the Net Neutrality advocates can rest easy. The FCC has refused to continue its review of the merge until Comcast delivers in full all the documents the agency has requested, information which has remained unspecified to the public. With impeccable timing, the FCC will be holding a hearing in Chicago on July 13 from 1pm to 8pm at Northwestern University Law School's Thorne Auditorium, 375 E. Chicago Ave. There will be two panels and a designated question-and-answer session beginning at 6pm.

 
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Concerned / June 26, 2010 9:05 AM

So,,, FOX NEWS won't be available to cable users any longer. It's criminal,,and Daley endorsed.. Go figure.

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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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