It’s happening. Slowly but surely, while we are a nation lulled to sleep with concerns of where our next paycheck will come from, the corporations that keep us down and take in record profits of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter of this year continue to do dirtywork to have more control over what they “offer” us. Watch Jon Stewart’s explanation of this from way back in March that still resonates right now.

Wait, didn't some top corporations need bailouts from us?

For some strange reason the FCC and DOJ have expressed that they will approve the merger between NBC (one of the largest television media companies) and Comcast (the largest provider of cable and internet in this nation). So this merger would create a company that owns all the entertainment on NBC, as well as the distribution of that entertainment? Meaning, they can charge other companies whatever they want for that NBC content, basically creating an exclusive market on that content.

The television industry itself is already mostly an oligopoly of eight companies: The Walt Disney Company, CBS Corporation, Viacom, NBC Universal, Comcast, Hearst Corporation, Time Warner, and News Corporation. So this would just further solidify fewer companies owning larger percentages.

Here’s a little lesson in antitrust laws for both the FCC and DOJ: The Clayton Act of 1914 was passed to supplement the Sherman Act. Specific categories of abusive conduct were listed, including price discrimination(section 2), exclusive dealings (section 3) and mergers which substantially lessen competition (section 7). Both the Sherman and Clayton acts are now codified under Title 15 of the United States Code.

Okay, so you say this is a vertical merger, and sure, they’re legal. But vertical mergers of this sort (when it creates an exclusive owning of something other players in the market need, or when it creates less options for consumers, aka Comcast only providing NBC channels to Comcast customers) can be quite illegal:

Vertical mergers can create or raise entry barriers that lead to higher prices or lower quality or innovation for consumers. For example, in industries with extensive networks, many firms already have market power through their ownership of established networks or installed bases involving huge sunk costs. Vertical mergers can, in certain instances, increase those barriers to entry even more, raising costs and reducing innovation and quality for consumers. How can a vertical merger increase barriers to entry? The first general category of anticompetitive theories posits that, in certain instances, vertical integration can foreclose rivals from access to needed inputs or raise their costs of obtaining them (Vertical Merger Enforcement Challenges At The FTC).

This is just the latest trend that is occurring in America. Corporations that see opportunities to take advantage of citizens even further are colluding and setting up tough situations for consumers in the very near future. With even more mergers expected to occur in 2011, things are going to get scary as the outlets and products being churned through those outlets continually merge.

Joe Waz, Comcast Senior Vice President and Public Policy Counsel, said this: “Through this transaction we have been exploring new opportunities to utilize our resources so that no one is left behind. This transaction is about giving more to our diverse consumers and to the communities we serve – more programming, more career opportunities, more procurement opportunities, and more community outreach,” Waz wrote. “Based on our solid record and the voluntary commitments we have offered in connection with the NBCU transaction, we strongly believe the benefits of this transaction are in the public interest.”

The merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation is a prime example. But let’s be like the DOJ and FCC and forget about the fact that Irving Azoff is Live Nation’s chairman (at the same time managing artists like Journey, Jewel, The Eagles, X Japan, Bush, REO Speedwagon, Seal, Christina Aguilera, David Archuleta, Alter Bridge, Van Halen, 30 Seconds to Mars, Neil Diamond, New Kids on the Block, Steely Dan, Guns N’ Roses, etc., etc.). Forget about the fact that Live Nation owns or operates over 117 venues and Ticketmaster owns 83% of the market for major venues’ ticket sales, with the next-biggest competitor holding just under 4 percent of that market. Concert attendance numbers dropped drastically this year (hmmm, might have something to do with that whole recession thing)—by July of 2010 ticket sales for the top 100 bands were down 12%. So yes, ticket prices did get cut this year, and Live Nation/Ticketmaster is claiming bigger cuts for 2011. But don’t forget these two tidbits:

  • The average Live Nation ticket price in North America increased 3 percent to $49.80 in North America in 2010.  The talent percentage was 74%, down 1% from 2009.
  • Internationally, the average price was $54.30, and the talent percentage 55% (down 1%).

It basically means that despite the “lower price” it’s apparent that it comes at a bigger cost to the creators, while the corporations take a greater profit. Sure, it’s only 1% now, but whose to say what that percentage will be in 2011.

Sign up for the coalition against the Comcast NBC merger here and stand up to corporations taking over our nation. Because when they finally have all the power (don’t forget that corporations can now LEGALLY fund political elections via Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission) we’ll be a nation of humanrobots staring at the ashes of fallen cities that were once run by it’s citizens and NOT it’s greedy corporations.

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