By Riley Fanning
The consumption of media in America is about to radically shift. The massive telecommunications company AT&T has agreed to buy the equally massive company Time Warner Cable for around $85 billion.
The reach of both corporations is broad and, if the merger is approved, could result in an entirely new landscape for media. While the deal has not officially gone through, there has already been intense scrutiny and criticism surrounding it. Both presidential nominees have expressed wariness of the deal, with Trump stating that his administration would not approve the deal as it would be “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Clinton commented, “If I am fortunate enough to be president, I will expect the government to conduct a very thorough analysis before making a decision.”
The merge would combine the power and reach of AT&T, one of the nation’s largest phone and internet providers, with Time Warner and its substantial assets such as HBO, TNT, Adult Swim, CNN and more. If passed, this would be one of the biggest media merges of all time.
The deal has garnered much attention for fear of how it would severely narrow the pool of those wielding power in the media. There should most definitely be scrutiny on large deals such as this one, because giving so much power to one corporation could be exceedingly restrictive. Competition in business is important.
Different perspectives are important. When one massive corporation controls many media outlets, the result is an extremely limited point of view. Mainstream media has almost unwavering control over what the public consumes and has access to, not to mention a direct connection into your homes through your televisions, laptops and phones.
Our society is heavily saturated with media, and to have that entire scope of influence whittled down into a select group deciding what everyone gets to see would put the world in a precarious position.
This merger also limits the public by further removing their choice in provider—they would instead be handed one colossal corporation controlling both internet and content. Moreover, there is potential monetary risk for Americans who consume Time Warner assets such as HBO through other providers. AT&T could easily increase the cost of said assets, so that the pricing would go up for all people who are not using AT&T as their provider.
People in general will most likely not benefit from this deal, and in actuality will probably end up paying steeper prices. The only ones gaining anything at all are the money-hungry corporations themselves. With so many potential consequences, this merger should be closely monitored as, if passed, the effect on American media could be extensive.