You may already know that FMC is against the proposed merger between massive Internet/cable provider/NBC-Universal owner Comcast and the slightly less massive Time Warner Cable. Back in August of 2014, FMC and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW)—the folks who write the movies and TV shows you know and love—filed a “joint petition to deny” with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging them to block the deal.
Well, the list of folks against the merger just got bigger. Today, saw the launch of the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, which includes FMC and WGAW, along with a diverse array of other groups who don’t want to see Comcast become even more powerful.
Earlier today, FMC’s Casey Rae published an op-ed in The Hill that lays out why artists and media-makers should be concerned about Mega Comcast.
Right now, musicians and other artists are grappling with complex questions regarding the economics of cultural production. By putting too much power in the hands of corporate gatekeepers like Comcast, regulators could put a cap on the growth of an incredibly vital sector: the American creative community.
The promise of the Internet was that anyone with a great song, a great idea or a great innovation could reach audiences without undue interference. As we continue to experiment with new business models for the 21st century, it is crucial that creators and content producers have some say in the terms of distribution.
Then there’s the problem of letting a massive Internet Service Provider pick winners and losers online. If Comcast decides that a certain app is the only one available on its on-demand service, or if it prioritizes Internet traffic for companies that can afford to pay big money, creators could be locked into systems that serve the interests of the biggest companies and not necessarily their own. Comcast is already free to exclude its own products and services from consumer data caps, while slapping subscribers with overages for using other applications. Under such arrangements, more artist-friendly innovations may never get out of the starting gate.
Bottom line: don’t believe the hype. Giving a single company this much control over pricing and access would impact creators—particularly independents—in a big way. Then there’s the issue of skyrocketing consumer prices. If you’re paying more than a hundred bucks a month for broadband (including less-than advertised speeds and legendarily crappy customer service), you have that much less to spend on music.
The FCC just restarted the clock in their review of the merger—we’ll be filing again with our allies at WGAW, and you can, too.
Stay tuned for more ways to plug in on this issue.