NBC/Comcast merger is a really BAD idea (& other media matters)

Bad News for Comcast

It was another bruising day for Comcast and NBC on Capitol Hill. The House Judiciary Committee seemed to be taking a page from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) — asking tough questions, calling CEOs Roberts and Zucker out on their meager talking points, and articulating serious concerns about Comcast’s proposed takeover of NBC Universal.

Josh Stearns,

Comcast-NBC: Is This Merger Good for Latinos?

Comcast wants help from Latino groups to push through their mega-deal with NBC. But before offering their stamp of approval, we hope Latino leaders will ask some important questions: Will the merger increase cable prices? Will Comcast try to reject labor agreements? Will the merger increase the representation of Latinos on network and cable programming?

Felix Sanchez and Joseph Torres,

House Weighs Comcast-NBC Deal

Top executives at Comcast and NBC Universal, at a House hearing on the cable giant’s proposed deal, faced muted resistance as lawmakers focused their questioning on employee job security, more diverse television programming and the deal’s possible impact on the online video market.

Amy Schatz, Wall Street Journal

Senator Asks NBC About Olympic Site Pay-TV Link

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) has written to NBC to express concern that some of its Internet coverage of the Winter Olympics has been limited to pay television subscribers. Kohl said he fears the practice of locking up certain content only for pay-TV subscribers may be a preview of what is to come, particularly in the context of the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger.

Diane Bartz, Reuters

Congress Told that Comcast-NBC Merger Is a Big Crapshoot

Congress held another hearing on Comcast’s proposed buyout of NBC Universal, and as at earlier gatherings, the critics came out swinging. But perhaps the most intriguing testimony came from economist Thomas Hazlett.

Matthew Lasar, Ars Technica

For Google, Provoking ISPs Is the Only Way to Build the Internet

Google’s recent push to provide ultra-high-speed Internet is more about injecting competition in the dysfunctional Internet business than about creating a new revenue stream.

Paul Smalera, CNN Money

Google May Spend ‘Hundreds of Millions’ on Broadband

Google said it may spend as much as “hundreds of millions” of dollars on an experimental broadband service that offers Internet speeds 100 times faster than current networks. The company hasn’t determined the location or size of the network, which could serve 50,000 to 500,000 customers.

Brian Womack, Bloomberg

National Minority Broadband Adoption: Comparative Trends in Adoption, Acceptance and Use

A new report examines broadband adoption and use between and within minority groups. The report addresses the experiences of minority consumers and provides insights into some of the factors affecting the decisions of minorities who have adopted broadband.

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Rep. Chris Smith Looks for Internet Freedom Allies

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) is trying to gin up support for his revised version of a bill aiming to promote Internet freedom. The new Global Online Freedom Act would prevent Internet companies from filtering or blocking basic political or religious terms unless they disclose those terms to the State Department.

Kim Hart, The Hill

Rural Utilities Service Announces Funding for 33 Broadband Stimulus Projects

The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service has released a list of 33 broadband stimulus projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


‘Up to’ Claims for Internet Connection Speeds Next to Worthless

At least half the time you’re online, and in some cases as much as 80 percent of the time, you’re not getting the superfast speed that is featured in ads for your broadband service. A recent FCC report determined that actual broadband speeds lag advertised speeds by as much as 50-80 percent.

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times

FCC: Congress to Get Broadband Plan March 16

After announcing that its National Broadband Plan would be outlined at its public meeting March 16, the FCC will deliver the plan to Congress on that date, beating the deadline by one day.

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

When American and European Ideas of Privacy Collide

Last week an Italian court ruled that Google executives had violated Italian privacy law by allowing users to post on YouTube a video of a boy being bullied. The case called attention to the profound European commitment to privacy, one that threatens the American conception of free expression and could restrict the flow of information on the Internet to everyone.

Adam Liptak, New York Times

NTIA Blocks Reid’s Plea for Broadband Stimulus Extension

The Obama administration has rejected a plea from Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to extend a deadline for broadband stimulus applications. The NTIA, the arm of the Commerce Department overseeing stimulus funding for broadband projects, said that its March 15 deadline for second-round applications stands firm.

Kim Hart, The Hill

Understanding the Participatory News Consumer

The Internet is at the center of the story of how people’s relationship to news is changing. Six in ten Americans get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day, and the Internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.

Project for Excellence in Journalism

Pew: Internet Surpasses Newspapers, Radio for News

Americans are turning to the Internet for their news more than they are to newspapers and the radio, according to a new study. They are getting their news from multiple sources such as Internet news and social networking sites and local and national television. And they are getting news in many different ways, including mobile phones.

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post

Survey: Cell Phones a Main Source of News Access

Mobile phones are changing the way Americans access the news, according to a Pew survey released today. One third of cell phone owners access news on their phones, according to a recent study.

Sara Jerome, Congress Daily

Network News at a Crossroads

The economic problems facing ABC News and CBS News in many ways mirror those faced by newspapers, which have been similarly afflicted by a drop in advertising revenue. The reaction — severe cuts in personnel and other costs — also looks to be the same. But can you shrink your way to prosperity?

Brian Stelter and Bill Carter, New York Times

ABC News to Cut Half its Domestic Correspondents, Close Bricks-and-Mortar Bureaus

As part of the deep cuts announced at ABC News, the network plans to close all of its physical bureaus around the country except Washington and halve the number of its domestic correspondents. The Washington bureau will remain open, but its size will be substantially reduced.

Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times

In a Country of Monopoly Newspapers, Palo Alto Is Awash in Competition

Palo Alto, Calif., a highly wired Silicon Valley community, is defying conventional wisdom. At a time when many cities struggle to support one newspaper, Palo Alto has three.

Miguel Helft, New York Times

Tangled Web

At a moment when the future of journalism in general and magazines in particular is thought to be in doubt, can we learn anything that can help fix a business model said to be broken, not to mention improve the flow of information on which our democratic society is predicated?

Victor Navasky and Evan Lerner, Columbia Journalism Review

Pew Study: Republicans Say Media Is Biased, Democrats Prefer News with a Point of View

A new study from the Pew Research Center on the changing news environment shows that political ties tend to determine the preferred point of view of the media coverage. And independents say they want more coverage of science, health and medicine, their local communities, U.S. domestic policy and international news — without a point of view.

Kim Hart, The Hill

Comcast lobbyists are working the halls of Congress to pave the way for their big takeover of NBC. We need to speak out now and stop this takeover. Tell your elected officials to stand up to Comcast and stop the mega-merger!

Cybersecurity Bill to Give President New Emergency Powers

The president would have the power to safeguard essential federal and private Web resources under draft Senate cybersecurity legislation. The bill includes a mandate for federal agencies to prepare emergency response plans in the event of a massive, nationwide cyberattack.

The Hill

Broadband and New Media Strategies for Minority Radio

The Office of Communications Business Opportunities hosted a roundtable on Broadband and New Media Strategies for Minority Radio. Roundtable participants explored creative strategies and innovative business models that could take advantage of the new technologies.

Judiciary Committee Chiefs Ask for Distant-Signal Status Quo

Congress has called on the satellite and broadcast industries to maintain the status quo and keep delivering distant network TV station signals even if the license that allows them to do so expires Feb. 28.

Broadcasting & Cable

Senate Standoff over Unemployment Holds Up Satellite Reauthorization Bill

The Senate adjourned with no vote on a second extension for the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act. The package was held up due to one Republican’s concerns about the impact of COBRA and unemployment insurance benefits, which were also part of the extension package.

Broadcasting & Cable

IBM Survey: Land Lines to Disappear, Mobile Broadband to Explode over Next Decade

An IBM survey of 8,000 consumers and 60 telecom company executives showed that broadband will continue to evolve and expand while traditional communications infrastructure — those copper lines we’ve used to make phone calls for decades — will rapidly disappear.

The Hill

After Digital Switch, Basic Broadcast TV Offers Cable Alternative

Just before 2009’s switch from analog to digital cable, TV viewers were inundated with commercials from cable companies, urging viewers to subscribe to cable in order to get a clear picture and plenty of channels. But for the price of an antenna, over-the-air television offers plenty of different programs.

National Public Radio

International Summit for Community Wireless Networks in Vienna, Austria in August

the annual International Summit for Community Wireless Networks will take place in Vienna, Austria from August 12-15, 2010. The summit is the nexus around which the community wireless movement swaps notes, strategizes, and organizes its agenda for development and implementation of ubiquitous, affordable broadband networks.

NYC Wireless

FCC Future of Media Workshop: Serving the Public Interest in the Digital Era
Mar 4: Washington, DC

News and Inclusion: Journalism and the Politics of Diversity
Mar 4: Stanford, CA

Write to Change the World with the OpEd Project
Mar 6: Boston, MA

We Media 2010 – Miami
Mar 9-Mar 11: Miami, FL

FCC & Knight Foundation Host Digital Inclusion Summit at Newseum
Mar 9: Washington, DC

Preserving Democracy: L.A. Media Reform Summit 2010
Mar 27: Los Angeles, CA

Art, Access & Action: A Columbia College Chicago Arts & Media Summit
Apr 8-Apr 9: Chicago, IL

The Future of Journalism: Unpacking the Rhetoric
Apr 30: Stanford, CA

Making Media Public Conference
May 5-May 7: Toronto, Ontario

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