October 2016, AT&T announced that they had reached a deal to buy Time Warner for $85.4 million, a move that could create one of the most powerful media companies in the world. This would mean that AT&T (a telecommunications provider) would merge with a content provider in Time Warner, and creating the possibility for conflict to net neutrality if AT&T were to provide faster than normal access to Time Warner content. The merger would represent another step towards mass media consolidation over the past few decades
(Image Source: WSJ.com)
2016 has brought with it a number of media consolidations and acquisitions that have included Comcast’s (CMCSA) acquisition of DreamWorks Animation (DWA) for $3.8 billion, and AT&T’s 4-year deal with DirecTV.
This deal has gained opposition from all sides of the political spectrum, from the far left and the alt right. Bernie Sanders has come out in opposition to the deal, warning, in a letter to the Justice Department, that the deal could lead to “gross concentration of power” in news media, and that preventing the deal would help “preserve our democratic discourse and open competitive markets for speech and commerce”.
From the right, President Elect Donald Trump is highly critical of the deal.
AT&T declared that it would create a “new company with complementary strengths to lead the next wave of innovation in converging media and communications industry“.
These huge content and service providing monoliths are a serious fear for those who value the idea of net neutrality; the more consolidation there is between content and provider the more the lines will become blurred, and net neutrality will be the victim.