Microsoft’s Interest in Ownership Deal with Yahoo!: Another Indication about Growing Broadband Consolidation

Microsoft has helped lead the criticism about the impending (and worrisome) takeover of Doubleclick by Google. But Microsoft, of course, has always pursued a strategy of domination. It just can’t beat Google in the interactive ad market. But its alleged interested in a deal with Yahoo!–through acquisition or partnership–is another major troubling sign about consolidation and control in the emerging new media space. Federal authorities and state AG’s need to investigate what this will mean for content competition, privacy and–dare I say it–civil society.

See: “Microsoft Asks Yahoo to Reconsider Merger Talks: Report.” David Kaplan.

Google Gobbling Airwaves to Expand Mobile Data Reach?

excerpt and my italics: “Google’s lobbying activities and its March move to join the Coalition for 4G in America (a consortium that joins Skype, Yahoo, satellite TV provider DirecTV, EchoStar, Intel and wireless services provider Access Spectrum) are bearing fruit. The coalition – which is widely considered to be dominated by Google – has petitioned the FCC asking for policy changes in the airwaves auction. If it has its way the auction will allow packaged bidding, a policy change that would let bidders acquire nationwide licenses…If Google does indeed go wireless, then it will control two key touch points to mobile content and apps: the network and the mobile search engine. It also will be in a prime position to dictate the mobile advertising ecosystem from end to end and not have to bother with pesky mobile operators and third-party players that demand their share of the ad revenue pie. The jury is on whether this is the plan. But if anyone can pull this off, Google can.”


There’s no small irony that two of the programs targeted by children’s media advocates during the 1980’s for being commercials for toys–the Transformers and GI Joe–are to have their own channels on Joost. Clearly, both the FTC and the FCC [and Rep. Ed Markey] will need to examine this deal with Hasbro when it comes to data collection, inappropriate advertising, etc. But Joost surely can do better than this. The folks behind the company have been engaged in a certain amount of self-hype. But if all Joost’s co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom can give us are reruns which reflect a bottom line mentality, they seriously need to examine what their values are. Joost is promoted as combining “a TV viewing experience with the choice, control and flexibility of Web 2.0.” But with interactive channels promoting violent, toy-based products, Joost is simply the latest enabler for a media culture that places profits before the public interest. What Joost really is about is old media value 1.0. [We won’t get into the violence connection with these shows. Interactive channels promoting violence, especially at this time in our global society, should give all responsible people a reason to reflect. But I hope that other advocates raise lots of you-know-what about this.]

We think poor Paddy Chayefsky is continually rolling in his grave, as his prophetic vision of television—Network—increasingly appears as a tame apparition. Sybil the Soothsayer must have a serious headache after she learns that TV producer Mark Burnett (Survivor) has created a new “reality” program pegged to the upcoming Presidential election.

With Murdoch’s as a partner, the show called Independent will feature $1 million in prize money (which can go to “legitimate” candidates or other causes). According to USA Today, “Potential candidates will audition for the show by submitting a video. Once the contestants are chosen, they will set up MySpace profiles to serve as their campaign headquarters.” Burnett and Murdoch hope that the show “will engage younger voters in the political process.”

But what will MySpace and Fox do with all the user data it receives from viewers and users of its Independent site. Isn’t the show just another attempt at getting young people to stick their interests, bookmarks, and other personal information into the MySpace data mining operation? We think so. Besides, the campaign for president should be serious business. Murdoch, Burnett, and Fox should be spending their considerable wealth encouraging people to understand the myriad of issues besetting the nation. But, since our politics is fashioned so much like show business, the new Independent show (which doesn’t have a TV partner yet) is likely to be the first of many spin-offs. Hey, Bud.TV. Perhaps our current President can be on your Replaced by a Chimp show?

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