The Adelphia Cable and Bank Settlement: Illustrating the Big Media/Telecom/Banking Nexus

Even though investment banks knew that former Adelphia exec’s–primarily the Rigas family–were using the cable giant as a personal “ATM machine”–they kept lending it money. Now, 39 banks (and the Deloitte & Touche auditing firm) have settled a bankruptcy-related lawsuit with investors–to the tune of $455 million. Neither the banks nor Deloitte admitted wrongdoing. But Citigroup, JPMorganChase, Wachovia, Bank of America and so many others have agreed to pay. The settlement, btw, is just a fraction of what investors say they lost from the cable industry shenanigans of the former Adelphia management. But so eager to make transaction fees and so sure that Adelphia’s cable subscribers would ultimately have to foot any red-ink, the banks kept lending and lending [according to the unsecured creditors complaint]. But we want to make a related point. Wall Street has helped fuel a conglomerated media and telecom culture–despite negative consequences to our democracy. Investment banks have too often operated in a self-serving and short-term focused manner when it comes to communications, We think it has had particularly negative consequences to both journalism and civic discourse. Reading the original complaint and related documents would be a perfect way to start thinking about what should be done to better protect the public.

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