Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR) has decided to rebrand its Enterprise Business Service division within the next three weeks.
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
Why There Is So Much Pro-War Reporting? There are seven reasons that the mainstream media and many of the largest "alternative" media websites are all pro-war. 1. Self-Censorship by Journalists There is tremendous self-censorship by journalists. A survey by the Pew Research Center and the Columbia Journalism Review in 2000 found: Self-censorship is commonplace in the news media today …. About one-quarter of the local and national journalists say they have purposely avoided newsworthy stories, while nearly as many acknowledge they have softened the tone of stories to benefit the interests of their news organizations. Fully four-in-ten (41%) admit they have engaged in either or both of these practices. Similarly, a 2003 survey reveals that 35% of reporters and news executives themselves admitted that journalists avoid newsworthy stories if “the story would be embarrassing or damaging to the financial interests of a news organization’s owners or parent company.” Several months after 9/11, Dan Rather told the BBC that American reporters were practicing “a form of self-censorship”: There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around peoples’ necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions…. And again, I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism. What we are talking about here – whether one wants to recognise it or not, or call it by its proper name or not – is a form of self-censorship. Rather said in 2008: One of the most pernicious ways in which we do this is through self-censorship, which may be the worst censorship of all. We have seen too much self-censorship in the news in recent years, and as I say this please know that I do not except myself from this criticism. As Mark Twain once said, “We write frankly and freely but then we ‘modify’ before we print.” Why do we modify the free and frank expression of journalistic truth? We do it out of fear: Fear for our jobs. Fear that we’ll catch hell for it. Fear that someone will seek to hang a sign around our neck that says, in essence, “Unpatriotic.” We modify with euphemisms such as “collateral damage” or “less than truthful statements.” We modify with passive-voice constructions such as “mistakes were made.” We modify with false equivalencies that provide for bad behavior the ready-made excuse that “everybody’s doing it.” And sometimes we modify with an eraser—simply removing offending and inconvenient truths from our reporting.” Keith Olbermann agreed that there is self-censorship in the American media, and that: You can rock the boat, but you can never say that the entire ocean is in trouble …. You cannot say: By the way, there’s something wrong with our …. system. Former Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin wrote in 2006: Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do. . . . There’s the intense pressure to maintain access to insider sources, even as those sources become ridiculously unrevealing and oversensitive. There’s the fear of being labeled partisan if one’s bullshit-calling isn’t meted out in precisely equal increments along the political spectrum. If mainstream-media political journalists don’t start calling bullshit more often, then we do risk losing our primacy — if not to the comedians then to the bloggers. I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter – whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way. MarketWatch columnist Brett Arends wrote in 2013: Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world. Once upon a time you saw people like this in every newsroom in the country. They often had chaotic personal lives and they died early of cirrhosis or a heart attack. But they were tough, angry SOBs and they produced great stories. Do you want to know what kind of people get promoted and succeed in the modern news organization? Social climbers. Networkers. People who are gregarious, who “buy in” to the dominant consensus, who go along to get along and don’t ask too many really awkward questions. They are flexible, well-organized, and happy with life. And it shows. This is why, just in the patch of financial and economic journalism, so many reporters are happy to report that U.S. corporations are in great financial shape, even though they also have surging debts, or that a “diversified portfolio” of stocks and bonds will protect you in all circumstances, even though this is not the case, or that defense budgets are being slashed, when they aren’t, or that the U.S. economy has massively outperformed rivals such as Japan, when on key metrics it hasn’t, or that companies must pay CEOs gazillions of dollars to secure the top “talent,” when they don’t need to do any such thing, and such pay is just plunder. All of these things are “consensus” opinions, and conventional wisdom, which are repeated over and over again by various commentators and vested interests. Yet none of them are true. If you want to be a glad-handing politician, be a glad-handing politician. If you want to be a reporter, then be angry, ask awkward questions, and absolutely hate it when everyone agrees with you. The Jerusalem Post wrote last year: Any university journalism course will teach that there are two forms of media censorship in the media: censorship and self-censorship. As one online article explains: “Censorship occurs when a state, political, religious or private party prohibits information from reaching citizens. Self-censorship occurs when journalists themselves prevent the publication of information… because they are fearful of what could happen if they publish certain information – they are fearful of injury to themselves or their families, fearful of a lawsuit or other economic consequence.” *** A 2014 academic article was more alarmist in tone. M. Murat Yesil, assistant professor at Turkey’s Necmettin Erbakan University, wrote that “self-censoring practices of journalists put the future of journalism into danger… [such] practices may be threatening the future of journalism.” This past week, Spanish journalists are claiming a new law that protects police officers from having their photographs published will encourage self-censorship. Self-censorship obviously occurs on the web as well as in old media. As Wikipedia notes: Self-censorship is the act of censoring or classifying one’s own work (blog, book(s), film(s), or other means of expression) … 2. Censorship by Higher-Ups Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com. If journalists do want to speak out about an issue, they also are subject to tremendous pressure by their editors or producers to kill the story. The 2000 Pew and Columbia Journalism Review survey notes: Fully half of [the investigative journalists surveyed] say newsworthy stories are often or sometimes ignored because they conflict with a news organization’s economic interests. More than six-in-ten (61%) believe that corporate owners exert at least a fair amount of influence on decisions about which stories to cover…. The Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who uncovered the Iraq prison torture scandal and the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam, Seymour Hersh, said: “All of the institutions we thought would protect us — particularly the press, but also the military, the bureaucracy, the Congress — they have failed. The courts . . . the jury’s not in yet on the courts. So all the things that we expect would normally carry us through didn’t. The biggest failure, I would argue, is the press, because that’s the most glaring…. Q: What can be done to fix the (media) situation? [Long pause] You’d have to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives. You’d actually have to start promoting people from the newsrooms to be editors who you didn’t think you could control. And they’re not going to do that.” In fact many journalists are warning that the true story is not being reported. A series of interviews with award-winning journalists also documents censorship of certain stories by media editors and owners (and see these samples). It’s not just the mainstream media. The large “alternative” media websites censor as well. For example: Every year Project Censored [which Walter Cronkite and other ] puts together a list of the top 25 stories censored and ignored by the mainstream media. How many of these stories were you aware of? Even regular consumers of alternative, independent media may be surprised to learn about some of these stories …. There are many reasons for censorship by media higher-ups. One is money. The media has a strong monetary interest to avoid controversial topics in general. It has always been true that advertisers discourage stories which challenge corporate power. In 1969, Federal Communications Commission commissioner Nicholas Johnson noted that tv networks go to great lengths to please their sponsors. Indeed, a 3-time Emmy Award winning CNN journalist says that CNN took money from the royalty in Bahrain to kill her hard-hitting expose, and instead run flattering propaganda for Bahrain. Some media companies make a lot of money from the government, and so don’t want to rock the boat. For example, Glenn Greenwald notes: Because these schools [owned by the Washington P0st’s parent company, whose profits subsidize the Post] target low-income students, the vast majority of their income is derived from federal loans. Because there have been so many deceptive practices and defaults, the Federal Government has become much more aggressive about regulating these schools and now play a vital role in determining which ones can thrive and which ones fail. Put another way, the company that owns The Washington Post is almost entirely at the mercy of the Federal Government and the Obama administration — the entities which its newspaper ostensibly checks and holds accountable. “By the end of 2010, more than 90 percent of revenue at Kaplan’s biggest division and nearly a third of The Post Co.’s revenue overall came from the U.S. government.” The Post Co.’s reliance on the Federal Government extends beyond the source of its revenue; because the industry is so heavily regulated, any animosity from the Government could single-handedly doom the Post Co.’s business — a reality of which they are well aware: The Post Co. realized there were risks attached to being dependent on federal dollars for revenue — and that it could lose access to that money if it exceeded federal regulatory limits. “It was understood that if you fell out of grace [with the Education Department], your business might go away,” said Tom Might, who as chief executive of Cable One, a cable service provider that is owned by The Post Co., sat in at company-wide board meetings. Beyond being reliant on federal money and not alienating federal regulators, the Post Co. desperately needs favorable treatment from members of Congress, and has been willing to use its newspaper to obtain it: Graham has taken part in a fierce lobbying campaign by the for-profit education industry. He has visited key members of Congress, written an op-ed article for the Wall Street Journal and hired for The Post Co. high-powered lobbying firms including Akin Gump and Elmendorf Ryan, at a cost of $810,000 in 2010. The Post has also published an editorial opposing the new federal rules, while disclosing the interests of its parent company. The Post is hardly alone among major media outlets in being owned by an entity which relies on the Federal Government for its continued profitability. NBC News and MSNBC were long owned by GE, and now by Comcast, both of which desperately need good relations with government officials for their profits. The same is true of CBS (owned by Viacom), ABC (owned by Disney), and CNN (owned by TimeWarner). For each of these large corporations, alienating federal government officials is about the worst possible move it could make — something of which all of its employees, including its media division employees, are well aware. But the Post Co.’s dependence is even more overwhelming than most. How can a company which is almost wholly dependent upon staying in the good graces of the U.S. Government possibly be expected to serve as a journalistic “watchdog” over that same Government? The very idea is absurd. In addition, the government has allowed tremendous consolidation in ownership of the airwaves during the past decade. Dan Rather has slammed media consolidation: Likening media consolidation to that of the banking industry, Rather claimed that “roughly 80 percent” of the media is controlled by no more than six, and possibly as few as four, corporations. This is documented by the following must-see charts prepared by: Media Channel The Nation Free Press And check out this list of interlocking directorates of big media companies from Fairness and Accuracy in Media, and this resource from the Columbia Journalism Review to research a particular company. This image gives a sense of the decline in diversity in media ownership over the last couple of decades: The large media players stand to gain billions of dollars in profits if the Obama administration continues to allow monopoly ownership of the airwaves by a handful of players. The media giants know who butters their bread. So there is a spoken or tacit agreement: if the media cover the administration in a favorable light, the MSM will continue to be the receiver of the government’s goodies. The large alternative media websites also censor news which are too passionately anti-war. Huffington Post – the largest liberal website – is owned by media giant AOL Time Warner, and censors any implication that a Democratic administration could be waging war for the wrong reasons. So HuffPost may criticize poor prosecution of the war, but would never say that the entire “War on Terror” as currently waged by the Obama administration is a stupid idea. The largest “alternative” websites may weakly criticize minor details of the overall war effort, but would never say that more or less worldwide war-fighting is counterproductive. They may whine about a specific aspect of the war-fighting … but never look at the larger geopolitical factors involved. They all seem to follow Keith Olbermann’s advice: You can rock the boat, but you can never say that the entire ocean is in trouble …. You cannot say: By the way, there’s something wrong with our …. system. 3. Digital Demonetization The biggest social media websites censor the hardest-hitting anti-war stories. And see this. We noted in 2013: Reddit, Facebook, Digg, Youtube and other social media sites have long censored content as well. For example, Facebook pays low-wage foreign workers to delete certain content based upon a censorship list. For example, Facebook deletes accounts created by any Palestinian resistance groups. [See this] Digg was caught censoring stories which were controversial or too critical of the government. See this and this. Many accuse Youtube of blatant censorship. Indeed, Youtube admits that it censors: Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown Moreover, all of the social media giants say they’re going to crack down on “fake news”. For example, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social media are partnering with corporate media such as the ABC News, NBC News, Washington Post, New York Times, to filter out what they label as fake news. Why is this a problem? Because corporate media giants like the Washington Post are labeling virtually any website which questions U.S. foreign policy as “fake news” … and calling on them to be “investigated” by the FBI and Department of Justice for treason. So think about how this will play out 1. First, criticizing U.S. wars will get a website listed on a slapdash “fake news” list 2. Second, the blacklisting will lead to social media – and perhaps search engines – blocking links to the site 3. With links blocked, ad revenue for the site will plummet, which will destroy the main source of revenue for most websites, effectively shutting them down. Get it? If this trend continues, it will lead to tremendous pressure to stop criticizing U.S. military policy. 4. Drumming Up Support for War Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com In addition, the owners of American media companies have long actively played a part in drumming up support for war. It is painfully obvious that the large news outlets studiously avoided any real criticism of the government’s claims in the run up to the Iraq war. It is painfully obvious that the large American media companies acted as lapdogs and stenographers for the government’s war agenda. Veteran reporter Bill Moyers criticized the corporate media for parroting the obviously false link between 9/11 and Iraq (and the false claims that Iraq possessed WMDs) which the administration made in the run up to the Iraq war, and concluded that the false information was not challenged because: The [mainstream] media had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked. As NBC News’ David Gregory (later promoted to host Meet the Press) said: I think there are a lot of critics who think that . . . . if we did not stand up [in the run-up to the war] and say ‘this is bogus, and you’re a liar, and why are you doing this,’ that we didn’t do our job. I respectfully disagree. It’s not our role. The same thing happened in the Libyan and Syrian wars. But this is nothing new. In fact, the large media companies have drummed up support for all previous wars. For example, Hearst helped drum up support for the Spanish-American War. So why has the American press has consistently served the elites in disseminating their false justifications for war? One of of the reasons is because the large media companies are owned by those who support the militarist agenda or even directly profit from war and terror (for example, NBC was owned by General Electric, one of the largest defense contractors in the world … which directly profits from war, terrorism and chaos. NBC was subsequently sold to Comcast). Another seems to be an unspoken rule that the media will not criticize the government’s imperial war agenda. And the media support isn’t just for war: it is also for various other shenanigans by the powerful. For example, a BBC documentary proves: There was “a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by a group of right-wing American businessmen . . . . The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.” Moreover, “the tycoons told the general who they asked to carry out the coup that the American people would accept the new government because they controlled all the newspapers.“ See also this book. Have you ever heard of this scheme before? It was certainly a very large one. And if the conspirators controlled the newspapers then, how much worse is it today with media consolidation? (Kevin Dutton – research psychologist at the University of Cambridge – whose research has been featured in Scientific American Mind, New Scientist, The Guardian, Psychology Today and USA Today – also notes that media personalities and journalists – especially when combined in the same persons – are likely to be psychopaths. Some 12 million Americans are psychopaths or sociopaths, and psychopaths tend to rub each others’ backs.) 5. Direct Government Funding and Support An official summary of America’s overthrow of the democratically-elected president of Iran in the 1950′s states, “In cooperation with the Department of State, CIA had several articles planted in major American newspapers and magazines which, when reproduced in Iran, had the desired psychological effect in Iran and contributed to the war of nerves against Mossadeq.” (page x) Indeed, it is well-documented that the CIA has long paid journalists to write propaganda. This includes foreign, as well as American reporters. And the military-media alliance has continued without a break (as a highly-respected journalist says, “viewers may be taken aback to see the grotesque extent to which US presidents and American news media have jointly shouldered key propaganda chores for war launches during the last five decades.”) As the mainstream British paper, the Independent, writes: There is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it. The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news. The article in the Independent discusses the use of “black propaganda” by the U.S. government, which is then parroted by the media without analysis; for example, the government forged a letter from al Zarqawi to the “inner circle” of al-Qa’ida’s leadership, urging them to accept that the best way to beat US forces in Iraq was effectively to start a civil war, which was then publicized without question by the media. Indeed, many branches of the U.S. government - and allied governments - fund propaganda. As one example, the New York Times reports: Richard Stengel, the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy [i.e. minister of propaganda] ... has approved State Department programs that teach investigative reporting and empower truth-tellers .... In other words, the State Department is supporting reporters who spout its party line about U.S. foreign policy without question. And Robert Parry, the investigative reporter who many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s, points out: In May 2015, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a fact sheet summarizing its work financing friendly journalists around the world, including “journalism education, media business development, capacity building for supportive institutions, and strengthening legal-regulatory environments for free media.” USAID estimated its budget for “media strengthening programs in over 30 countries” at $40 million annually, including aiding “independent media organizations and bloggers in over a dozen countries,” In Ukraine before the 2014 coup ousting elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing a fiercely anti-Russian and U.S.-backed regime, USAID offered training in “mobile phone and website security,” skills that would have been quite helpful to the coup plotters. USAID, working with currency speculator George Soros’s Open Society, also has funded the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which engages in “investigative journalism” that usually goes after governments that have fallen into disfavor with the United States and then are singled out for accusations of corruption. The USAID-funded OCCRP collaborates with Bellingcat, an online investigative website founded by blogger Eliot Higgins. Higgins has spread misinformation on the Internet, including discredited claims implicating the Syrian government in the sarin attack in 2013 and directing an Australian TV news crew to what appeared to be the wrong location for a video of a BUK anti-aircraft battery as it supposedly made its getaway to Russia after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014. Despite his dubious record of accuracy, Higgins has gained mainstream acclaim, in part, because his “findings” always match up with the propaganda theme that the U.S. government and its Western allies are peddling. Higgins is now associated with the Atlantic Council, a pro-NATO think tank which is partially funded by the U.S. State Department. Beyond funding from the State Department and USAID, tens of millions of dollars more are flowing through the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, which was started in 1983 under the guiding hand of CIA Director William Casey. NED became a slush fund to help finance what became known, inside the Reagan administration, as “perception management,” the art of controlling the perceptions of domestic and foreign populations. 6. Access Dan Froomkin, Brett Arends and many other mainstream reporters have noted that “access” is the most prized thing for mainstream journalists … and that they will keep fawning over those in power so that they will keep their prized access. But there is another dynamic related to access at play: direct cash-for-access payments to the media. As previously mentioned, a 3-time Emmy Award winning CNN journalist says that CNN takes money from foreign dictators to run flattering propaganda. Politico reveals: For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post has offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to “those powerful few”: Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and — at first — even the paper’s own reporters and editors… The offer — which essentially turns a news organization into a facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters — was a new sign of the lengths to which news organizations will go to find revenue at a time when most newspapers are struggling for survival. That may be one reason that the mainstream news commentators hate bloggers so much. The more people who get their news from blogs instead of mainstream news sources, the smaller their audience, and the less the MSM can charge for the kind of “nonconfrontational access” which leads to puff pieces for the big boys. 7. Censorship by the Government Finally, as if the media’s own interest in promoting war is not strong enough, the government has exerted tremendous pressure on the media to report things a certain way. If reporters criticize those in power, they may be smeared by the government and targeted for arrest (and see this). Indeed, the government treats real reporters as terrorists. Because the core things which reporters do could be considered terrorism, in modern America, journalists are sometimes targeted under counter-terrorism laws. The government spies on reporters. Columbia Journalism Review notes: The Edward Snowden leaks made clear that the internet is a tool for peering into the lives of citizens, including journalists, for every government with the means to do so. Whether domestic spying in the United States or Great Britain qualifies as censorship is a matter of debate. But the Obama administration’s authorization of secret wiretaps of journalists and aggressive leak prosecutions has had a well-documented chilling effect on national-security reporting. At the very least, electronic snooping by the government means that no journalist reporting on secrets can promise in good conscience to guarantee a source anonymity. Not only has the government thrown media owners and reporters in jail if they’ve been too critical, it also claims the power to indefinitely detain journalists without trial or access to an attorney which chills chills free speech. After Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge. An al-Jazeera journalist – in no way connected to any terrorist group – was held at Guantánamo for six years … mainly to be interrogated about the Arabic news network. And see this. Wikileaks’ head Julian Assange could face the death penalty for his heinous crime of leaking whistleblower information which make those in power uncomfortable … i.e. being a reporter. As constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald notes: It seems clear that the US military now deems any leaks of classified information to constitute the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” or “communicating with the enemy” even if no information is passed directly to the “enemy” and there is no intent to aid or communicate with them. Merely informing the public about classified government activities now constitutes this capital crime because it “indirectly” informs the enemy. *** If someone can be charged with “aiding” or “communicating with the enemy” by virtue of leaking to WikiLeaks, then why wouldn’t that same crime be committed by someone leaking classified information to any outlet: the New York Times, the Guardian, ABC News or anyone else? *** International Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller made a similar point when the charges against Manning were first revealed: “[I]f Manning has aided the enemy, so has any media organization that published the information he allegedly stole. Nothing in Article 104 requires proof that the defendant illegally acquired the information that aided the enemy. As a result, if the mere act of ensuring that harmful information is published on the internet qualifies either as indirectly ‘giving intelligence to the enemy’ (if the military can prove an enemy actually accessed the information) or as indirectly ‘communicating with the enemy’ (because any reasonable person knows that enemies can access information on the internet), there is no relevant factual difference between [Bradley] Manning and a media organization that published the relevant information.” *** It is always worth underscoring that the New York Times has published far more government secrets than WikiLeaks ever has, and more importantly, has published far more sensitive secrets than WikiLeaks has (unlike WikiLeaks, which has never published anything that was designated “Top Secret”, the New York Times has repeatedly done so: the Pentagon Papers, the Bush NSA wiretapping program, the SWIFT banking surveillance system, and the cyberwarfare program aimed at Iran were all “Top Secret” when the newspaper revealed them, as was the network of CIA secret prisons exposed by the Washington Post). There is simply no way to convert basic leaks to WikiLeaks into capital offenses – as the Obama administration is plainly doing – without sweeping up all leaks into that attack. *** The same [Obama] administration that has prosecuted whistleblowers under espionage charges that threatened to send them to prison for life without any evidence of harm to national security, and has brought double the number of such prosecutions as all prior administrations combined. Converting all leaks into capital offenses would be perfectly consistent with the unprecedented secrecy fixation on the part of the Most Transparent Administration Ever™. The irony from these developments is glaring. The real “enemies” of American “society” are not those who seek to inform the American people about the bad acts engaged in by their government in secret. As Democrats once recognized prior to the age of Obama – in the age of Daniel Ellsberg – people who do that are more aptly referred to as “heroes”. The actual “enemies” are those who abuse secrecy powers to conceal government actions and to threaten with life imprisonment or even execution those who blow the whistle on high-level wrongdoing. Former attorney general Mukasey said the U.S. should prosecute Assange because it’s “easier” than prosecuting the New York Times. Congress is considering a bill which would make even mainstream reporters liable for publishing leaked information (part of an all-out war on whistleblowing). As such, the media companies have felt great pressure from the government to kill any real questioning of the endless wars. For example, Dan Rather said, regarding American media, “What you have is a miniature version of what you have in totalitarian states”. Tom Brokaw said “all wars are based on propaganda. And the head of CNN said: There was ‘almost a patriotism police’ after 9/11 and when the network showed [things critical of the administration’s policies] it would get phone calls from advertisers and the administration and “big people in corporations were calling up and saying, ‘You’re being anti-American here.’ Indeed, former military analyst and famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said that the government has ordered the media not to cover 9/11: Ellsberg seemed hardly surprised that today’s American mainstream broadcast media has so far failed to take [former FBI translator and 9/11 whistleblower Sibel] Edmonds up on her offer, despite the blockbuster nature of her allegations [which Ellsberg calls “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”]. As Edmonds has also alluded, Ellsberg pointed to the New York Times, who “sat on the NSA spying story for over a year” when they “could have put it out before the 2004 election, which might have changed the outcome.” “There will be phone calls going out to the media saying ‘don’t even think of touching it, you will be prosecuted for violating national security,’” he told us. * * * “I am confident that there is conversation inside the Government as to ‘How do we deal with Sibel?’” contends Ellsberg. “The first line of defense is to ensure that she doesn’t get into the media. I think any outlet that thought of using her materials would go to to the government and they would be told ‘don’t touch this . . . .‘” Indeed, in the final analysis, the main reason today that the media giants will not cover the real stories or question the government’s actions or policies in any meaningful way is that the American government and mainstream media been somewhat blended together. Can We Win the Battle Against Censorship? We cannot just leave governance to our “leaders”, as “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” (Jefferson). Similarly, we cannot leave news to the corporate media. We need to “be the media” ourselves. “To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men.”– Abraham Lincoln “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Powerlessness and silence go together. We…should use our privileged positions not as a shelter from the world’s reality, but as a platform from which to speak. A voice is a gift. It should be cherished and used.”– Margaret Atwood “There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress.”– Howard Zinn (historian) “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent”– Thomas Jefferson
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
Last month we noted that ESPN lost 621,000 subscribers in the month of the October (see "ESPN Loses A Record 621,000 Subscribers In One Month"). Unfortunately, the sports media powerhouse can't seem to make the bleeding stop as evidenced by another 555,000 subscriber losses this month as reported by Nielsen. For those keeping track, that's roughly 1.2mm in sub losses in just two months, which, at $7 of revenue per sub, represents about $100mm of lost annual revenue for ESPN's parent company, Disney. Obviously this is not welcome news for a company that is locked in to $7.3 billion in sports content deals or roughly 70% more than the second highest network, NBC. In 2017 ESPN to spend $7.3 billion on content more than any source; then Netflix ($6bn), NBC (4.3bn), CBS ($4bn) & Amazon ($3.2bn) #snlkagan — Brad Adgate (@badgate) October 18, 2016 According to Outkick The Coverage, that $7.3BN in content deals includes $1.9BN for Monday Night Football, $1.5BN for NBA content and a host of other MLB and college sports content. Presently ESPN is on the hook for the following yearly sports rights payments: $1.9 billion a year to the NFL for Monday Night Football, $1.47 billion to the NBA, a deal I told you flat out wasn't sustainable back in July because it meant every single cable and satellite subscriber in the country was paying an average of $30 a year for the NBA whether they watched or not, $700 million to Major League Baseball, $608 million for the College Football Playoff, $225 million to the ACC, $190 million to the Big Ten, $120 million to the Big 12, $125 million a year to the PAC 12, and hundreds of millions more to the SEC. Meanwhile, ESPN isn't the only cable network bleeding subs. As we pointed out last month, Pay TV subscribers have been shrinking for years as streaming alternatives have grown in popularity. Moreover, the pace of the decline seemingly accelerated in early 2015. Of course, cheap, streaming-only services like the one just launched by AT&T's DirecTV only serve to put even more pressure on content providers by offering more choices and smaller channel bundles to consumers. Meanwhile, as The Verge points out, this latest offering from AT&T just adds to the other streaming services already offered by Dish's Sling TV, Sony Playstation Vue and upcoming services from Hulu and YouTube. As we've said before, the beginning of the end for the TV bundle is upon us and ESPN, which has extracted excess value from cable distributors for decades at the expense of consumers who had no choice but to suck-up their exorbitant fees, will be among the biggest losers. * * * For those who missed it, here is some additional analysis on ESPN from our post last month. Last April, HBO effectively marked the death of the cable TV bundle when they decided to launch "HBO Now" and sell their content directly to consumers for $15 per month. While other "over-the-top" providers have existed for years, this decision was pivotal because it was the first time that any major content provider decided to break with the traditional cable delivery model and go direct to consumer. Within a year, HBO Now had amassed 1 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Pay TV households collapsed around the same time as "cord cutting" accelerated. Per the following data from Barclays' Media and Telecom analyst, Kannan Venkateshwar, the decline of Pay TV households really accelerated in 2Q 15 around the same time that HBO Now was launched. Meanwhile, the number of broadband-only households also surged. Now, the biggest beneficiary of the cable TV bundle, ESPN, which exploited it's "must have" content for decades to negotiate ever higher rates with cable TV providers while forcing those rates down the throats of consumers by insisting its content be included in all of the channel "bundles", finds itself in the unfamiliar territory of losing millions of subs per year amid surging contents costs. In fact, according to Outkick The Coverage, ESPN lost over 600,000 subscribers in October alone which is worth over $50mm in annual revenue. Yesterday Nielsen announced its subscriber numbers for November 2016 and those numbers were the worst in the history of ESPN's existence as a cable company -- the worldwide leader in sports lost 621,000 cable subscribers. That's the most subscribers ESPN has ever lost in a month according to Nielsen estimates and it represents a terrifying and troubling trend for the company, an acceleration of subscriber loss that represents a doubling of the average losses over the past couple of years, when ESPN has been losing in the neighborhood of 300,000 subscribers a month. These 621,000 lost subscribers in the past month alone lead to a drop in revenue of over $52 million and continue the alarming subscriber decline at ESPN. Couple these subscriber declines with a 24% drop in Monday Night Football ratings this fall, the crown jewel of ESPN programming, and it's fair to call October of 2016 the worst month in ESPN's history. But this isn't just a story about ESPN, the rapid decline in cable subscribers is hitting every channel, sports and otherwise. It just impacts ESPN the most because ESPN costs every cable and satellite subscriber roughly $7 a month, over triple the next most expensive cable channel. The historical cable TV game goes a little something like this...in any given market there is typically 3-4 subscription TV providers (2 satellite companies, 1 (or more) cable providers and a Telco). Those providers sign multi-year deals to buy content from media companies (e.g. ESPN, Discovery, Time Warner, Viacom, etc. etc) and then bundle them all together and pass the costs of those contracts along to consumers. Every 3-5 years those content contracts come up for renewal and the cable providers (i.e. consumers, since the costs just get passed along) are effectively forced to pay whatever increase ESPN (and others) asks for or risk losing millions of subscribers. Now, there are roughly 100mm pay TV households in the U.S. and, because of the channel "bundling" scam, approximately 90% of them are forced to "buy" ESPN whether they consume sports content or not. Moreover, because ESPN is considered "must have" content they're able to extract the most value from the cable providers getting roughly $7 per sub per month, or more than double the next highest content provider...tack on a little extra margin for the cable provider and the average consumer is paying $120 per year for ESPN even if they never watch a single minute of sports programming...seems fair, right? Fortunately for consumers, and not so much for ESPN, the power in the system, courtesy of "over-the-top" content providers like HBO and Netflix, is just starting to shift from the media companies to consumers...which will be disastrous for the historical beneficiaries of the cable bundle. Outkick The Coverage laid out the math on what pay TV sub losses means for ESPN: A loss of 3 million subscribers would leave ESPN with 86 million subscribers in 2017. That would be down roughly 15 million subscribers in the past five years alone. Given that ESPN makes right at $7 a month from every cable and satellite subscriber a year, that means ESPN's subscriber revenue would be $7.22 billion in 2017. Toss in an additional $1.8 billion or so in advertising revenue and ESPN's total revenue would be $9 billion. We don't know what the costs of running ESPN are -- employees, facilities, equipment, and the like have to cost a billion or more -- but it's fair to say that ESPN is probably still making money in 2017. Just nowhere near what they used to make. But those sports rights costs are going up and those subscriber revenue numbers are going down. So if we're very conservative and project that ESPN continues to lose 3 million subscribers a year -- well below the rate that they are currently losing subscribers -- then the household numbers would look like this over the next five years: 2017: 86 million subscribers 2018: 83 million subscribers 2019: 80 million subscribers 2020: 77 million subscribers 2021: 74 million subscribers At 74 million subscribers -- Outkick's projection for 2021 based on the past five years of subscriber losses -- ESPN would be bringing in just over $6.2 billion a year in yearly subscriber fees at $7 a month. At $8 a month, assuming the subscriber costs per month keeps climbing, that's $7.1 billion in subscriber revenue. Both of those numbers are less than the yearly rights fees cost. Uh oh. But that's just the short-term incremental impacts. The real question is how many consumers would actually purchase ESPN if the bundle truly disappeared and consumers were given the option to buy all content a la carte (which we suspect is the inevitable end game)? If we assume that 45mm households would be willing to purchase ESPN directly, at their current cost of $7 per month, then that would equate to roughly $3.8BN in revenue per year or about half of their $7.5BN in annual content costs...which we suspect is a slight problem for Disney. But, like it not, a la carte content purchases are the way of the future. While cable providers used to be incentivized to protect the "channel bundle" the advent of the internet and over-the-top content providers means that their true value offering to consumers is now in their broadband and not the content. Therefore, it's not terribly surprising that, as Bloomberg points out, new a la carte, streaming TV services are becoming very popular. AT&T Inc. set a price of $35 a month for a new online-streaming TV service with 100 channels or more, and the company may experiment with “a la carte” programming, giving customers choice on what channels they pay to watch. DirecTV Now will be priced to compete with two leading online TV providers -- Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Dish Network Corp.’s Sling TV. PlayStation Vue starts at $39.99 for 60 channels and runs as high as $54.99 for more than 100 channels. Sling TV begins at $20 for 28 channels and goes as high as $40 for a 48-channel multi-screen package. The competition for cable-like online services is suddenly fierce. YouTube has been working for months on the paid live-TV streaming service, called Unplugged. Hulu LLC, which is co-owned by Fox, Disney, Comcast Corp. and Time Warner, will introduce its own service in the coming months, and Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. have explored the idea. Of course, ESPN isn't the only content company that has benefitted from the forced charity of the American consumer. We suspect the many other cable content providers are also about to face a very turblent transition as well.
Trump’s Treasury pick earned millions of dollars from the sale of a bank accused of wrongful foreclosures.
The Walt Disney Company (DIS) stock whose shares have gained more than 170% in the past five years is trading sideways in 2016.
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
Многие высокопоставленные сотрудники именитых компаний во время предвыборной компании высказывали опасения по поводу возможного избрания Дональда Трампа. В своих комментариях некоторые менеджеры выражали обеспокоенность будущими условиями для ведения бизнеса в США, ссылаясь на резкие популистские лозунги, которыми Трамп сыпал в входе предвыборной гонки. Кандидат в президенты не скромничал в адрес конкретных компаний, так в феврале он призывал бойкотировать Apple, пока та не окажет содействие ФБР, затем досталось AT&T в связи с покупкой Time Warner, зацепило и социальные сети…Выборы остались позади, и главный критик США готовится стать президентом, а бизнесу необходимо поддерживать хорошие отношения с верхушкой власти, и CEO компаний поздравили Трампа.Генеральный директор Microsoft Наделла оставил пост в Linkedin, Кук и Гейтс позвонили поздравить с победой на выборах, а вот с Биллом Фордом-младшим Трамп сразу перешел к вопросам бизнеса. Трамп и FordВ своем Twitter аккаунте Трамп сообщил, что по итогам переговоров с главой правления Ford, Биллом Фордом, было решено сохранить рабочие места на заводе Линкольн в штате Кентукки.Ранее сообщалось, что Ford заложил постройку завода в Сан-Луис-Потоси в Мексике, на который планировалось перебросить производство с завода Линкольн в США. Инвестиционная программа нового Мексиканского предприятия оценивается в 1.6 млрд долл, завод рассчитан приблизительно на 3000 рабочих мест. В планах было перенести в Мексику производство малолитражных моделей и модели не пользующиеся широким спросом в США. Сейчас компания Ford пересматривает сроки и объем инвестиций в данный проект.Из сообщения в Twitter аккаунте Трампа следует, что данный шаг позволит сохранить 4500 рабочих мест в штате Кентукки на заводе Линкольн.Сейчас Мексика четвертая страна по объему выпуска автомобилей Ford, после США, Китая и Германии.Ранее Д.Трамп предлагал ввести заградительный барьер в виде повышенных налогов на авто произведенных в Мексике, в размере 35%. Трамп и MicrosoftВ интервью The New York Times Трамп рассказал о телефонном разговоре с Биллом Гейтсом.Для Microsoft основная проблема, это уровень квалификации сотрудников компании и миграционная политика о которой много говорит Трамп. Его кардинальный подход может усложнить подбор персонала. Как отметил Гейтс, для такой огромной компании, как Microsoft, не достаточно квалифицированного персонала на территории США.Еще одной темой для обсуждения стали закупки Microsoft ветровой электроэнергии. Компания постоянно наращивает закупку альтернативных КВт, на данный момент объем превышает 500 МВт полученных путем ветрогенерации.В свою очередь Трамп отмечает, что часть дохода Microsoft получает от взаимодействия с административными ведомствами и государственными органами США, а работа с иностранными гражданами может вылиться в проблемы для IT сектора США. Трамп и Apple Общение с Тимом Куком преподнесено в стиле — привет Тим, не хочешь с Китая пару заводиков перетащить в США, добавить рабочих мест в стране? Точнее из переводики — «реальным достижением станет момент, когда Apple построит в США гигантскую фабрику, а лучше пару фабрик по производству iPhone».Apple переадресовала вопрос компаниям сборщикам своей продукции о возможности данного шага, на что в Foxconn отметили, что это приведет к удорожанию продукции, а вPegatron, по сообщениям СМИ, промолчали.Трамп отметил, что входе разговора предложил компании налоговые преференции и привлекательные условия ведения бизнеса.Как и в случае с Ford, ранее Трамп грозился повышением налоговой ставки на ввозимую продукцию до 45%.Тим Кук, как Билл Гейтс ранее сетовал на недостаточное количество квалифицированных специалистов в США. Котировки акций Подписываемся на аккаунт Трампа в Twitter и ждем свежих сообщений, с меткой «Я поговорил по телефону», 16.2 мио подписчиков, десятки тысяч лайков, он популярен.Да, очень забавно, Клинтон в своём аккаунте Twitter фармацевтов обсуждала, Трамп свои подвиги анонсирует...
Американское издательство Time Inc., которому принадлежат журналы Time, People и Sports Illustrated, отклонило предложение ряда инвесторов приобрести компанию за $1,8 млрд, сообщает Financial Times со ссылкой на информированные источники.
Американское издательство Time Inc., которому принадлежат журналы Time, People и Sports Illustrated, отклонило предложение ряда инвесторов приобрести компанию за $1,8 млрд, сообщает Financial Times со ссылкой на информированные источники.
Some history you probably don't know: In 1996, a Republican-controlled Congress passed the Telecommunication Act of 1996, opening the incumbent state-based utility wires of now-Verizon, AT&T and Centurylink to all forms of competition. I.e., the customer would have a choice of who offered them ISP, broadband, phone or even cable TV service over the wires coming into their home or office. The Act was hailed as a model of 'deregulation'. Starting in 2001, the Republican FCC under then-Chairman Michael Powell, closed the networks to most direct competition, killing off about 7,000 independent ISPs that had helped America get online since 1990's. The FCC called this 'deregulation'. Jeffrey Eisenach was part of the Powell transition team. He is now the head of the new, 2016-2017 FCC transition team. And today, there is no serious competition or choice for ISP services, or most other wired services. In fact, "Internet Service Providers", (ISPs) (the companies that connect you to the Internet and provide email, among other services), are considered some of the worst companies in America. In June 2016, ACSI's Customer Satisfaction Benchmarks came out and out of 43 industry segments examined, the "ISPs" were rated dead last. However, the rest of the communications services, including phone service and even cable (subscription) TV services, are all bottom feeders as far as the public is concerned. According to ACSI, these very bad grades are because there is no serious choice of providers. "ISPs... remain the lowest-performing industry in the ACSI. Though many consumers are cutting the chord to subscription TV, most of them must still rely on the same companies for the high-speed Internet access required for streaming media platforms like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video." "ISPs and subscription TV inched up in 2016, but they remain the lowest scoring industries in the ACSI." In short, the phone and cable companies were able to kill off competition by getting the government (the FCC) to do their dirty work and they did this using the failed economic models of the phone and cable company consultants, including Jeff Eisenach. Unfortunately, it is a glimpse of what we can expect from a new Republican FCC in 2017. The History of ISPs in America that You Probably Don't Know--and the Birth of the Internet and the World Wide Web. It's 1996 and I'm sitting in an office in mid-town Manhattan, NY, hanging with a bunch of young, tech-happy entrepreneurs, examining rack upon rack of electronic boxes that are attached to copper wires that connect to something called the Internet and the World Wide Web. (The Internet and WWW are not really the same though most people use the terms interchangeably.) I had used email very early on, back in the 1980's, as well as online bulletin boards, which were a specific cyberspace location that you could reach by having a modem that was attached to a computer, which was attached to a phone line. It would actually dial a number and get to a specific cyber-location. This is known as "dial up". America Online, Compuserve, Prodigy, among others, had created online services, where you dialed up and entered their specific service. But these were 'walled in' and you couldn't go to other places outside their specific site. This was going to change during the 1990's. The World Wide Web was spanking new and entrepreneurs were popping up all over the place to help people get online. It wasn't a smooth, sleek thing but was hobbled together. The concept of the 'web page' was new; using a 'browser' was new, and creating a web page was even newer and more treacherous. And it required hand-holding, tech support and other 'customer-service' activities. To help America get online, thousands of start ups popped up all over America and with the advent of the Telecom Act of 1996, any company could use the utility wires to offer their services. This included 'broadband', which also hadn't existed - i.e., more speed over the same wire. Internet providers were supposed to be able to also use a "CLEC", a local competitor who offered DSL by renting the incumbent, state-based, Title II, utility phone lines, or the ISP could resell the incumbent's DSL. At the same time, AT&T and MCI, then companies offering long distance service, (a separate phone service that crosses state lines), were also able to also offer local service, which they had been restricted from doing before the 1996 Act. By the end of 2001 they had garnered about 20% of local phone service in America. And by the end of 2001 there were 9,335, mostly small, entrepreneurial companies - that handled the majority of all US Internet service customers. The incumbent phone companies were not even in the Top 10 of US providers in 2001. Meanwhile, the Act was not a gift. The local incumbent utility phone companies got to enter long distance and the other markets they had been restricted from due to undue market power-- (I.e., they controlled the actual wires and therefore the services over the wire.) The Original ISPs Under Attack However, throughout this time the small ISPs were under attack by the incumbent phone companies that are now Verizon or then-SBC (who would become AT&T). And note--the cable companies' networks were closed to competition so the ISPs had to rely on the phone networks. Even though the Telecom Act had 'deregulated' the local phone networks so that they were open to direct competition, the incumbent phone companies wanted to just steal--I mean, take over the business that the entrepreneurs had invented and grown. Enter Eisenach' Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF). I don't know who started it, but PFF and others began pitching a bogus economic plan to remove these companies. In 1998 Eisenach filed with the FCC about something called "intermodal competition", which was - get rid of all competition and let those who own the wires compete. According to the theory, it would bring choice for all services and broadband, etc. This concept was not what the Act had said. However, it made the phone companies, now Verizon et al. happy; but it was garbage. And it is now the laughing stock of economics. Large companies don't compete - they collude. But you, the reader, know this because you are reading the history of the companies, ISPs, that most people in America now consider some of the worst companies in America. Bad Outcomes: Thanks to the FCC and Bad Economic Models Examining the last two decades, here's the punchline: Now-Verizon and now-AT&T never built out the majority of their territories for wired broadband or cable TV, and because they killed off the competition, you have a 'duopoly' at best - i.e., the cable company and in some places, the phone company, offering service. Next, based on every merger that made them larger, Verizon and AT&T were also supposed to compete out-of-region for wireline phone, broadband and internet service--and never did. So, by the end of 2007, with CenturyLink (the third large incumbent phone company), there were only three non-competing massive phone companies that controlled the wires. By 2007, they had been able to kill off most of the small companies that were offering ISP and broadband services and 'vertically integrate' their services over the wire--i.e.; the broadband service, the ISP service, and phone service, and even the cable TV, were now controlled by one company. Worse, Verizon and AT&T (and CenturyLink) own the wires that are used for most wireless service, (Centurylink sells Verizon's wireless) so they control the price of wireless as well as phone service in their areas; they even control the price to competitors who rent the lines. Moreover, Verizon cut a deal to offer its wireless service with the cable bundle in areas it didn't upgrade--and wireless service can't compete with a wired cable service today. And just to keep competition at abeyance, AT&T bought DirecTV, so it couldn't compete with AT&T - and Verizon resells DirecTV. And this outcome sucks. My Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) basic triple play, advertised at $89.95, is now over $200 dollars. Verizon's FiOS is available but if I changed it would be the same price because there is a cartel and they decided to use the same deceptive practices, the same promotional-bait and switch, and the same made up fees. And most of America has only one high speed wired company--the cable company; the rest have a duopoly. With exceptions like where Google showed up or some municipality got sick of waiting and decided to do a work-around of the incumbents, there isn't any serious competition for wired very high speed services. Thus, most people are not happy with their ISPs and lack of choice. Let's supply some of the details how this happened. The Fall of ISP Competition: The 2001 Republican Transition FCC and Eisenach Eisenach and PFF were on the FCC Powell transition team in 2001 and by 2002, the entire ISP and competitor market was now under serious attack. But, as I mentioned, this had been underway since the Act was passed. How do we know this? We were there. We worked with the small ISPs and filed complaints against now-Verizon starting in 1998-1999 because the incumbents were making sure that their phone lines weren't installed in a timely manner or the lines would stop working or the discount pricing to the ISPs and CLECs to use these networks were higher than the retail pricing by then Bell Atlantic, now Verizon. "The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently found that Bell Atlantic (Verizon), New York has not been able to deliver an "acceptable level of performance" for the provision of competitor DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) services. In fact, the DOJ report found that 30 to 40% of all order confirmations to the CLECs were inaccurate while over 80% of all orders required some form of manual processing." What this says is - imagine having a business where at least 30-40% of the time the order didn't go through or had some problem, mostly fabricated. (This was the reason I had been sitting the room with the small ISP in 1996; their orders for lines were not going through and they wanted to know why.) But, there were a myriad of problems, including predatory pricing by the incumbent. "Bell Atlantic is Using Predatory Pricing for DSL that is Designed to Eliminate Internet Service Providers. "NNI was asked to comment on Bell Atlantic's ADSL discount wholesale pricing to ISPs. It is a clear case of a monopoly using predatory pricing to eliminate competitors. "Based on Bell Atlantic's 'The ISP Term & Volume Program: Rates', dated October 1999 (which is a rewrite of a previous pricing sheet), Bell Atlantic's pricing will clearly result in competitors never being able to compete against Bell Atlantic retail. In fact, these companies will lose massive amounts of money for every customer they sign up." And it would get worse. Under Powell, the FCC released six inter-related proceedings that were designed to kill off competition. Patty Fusco, Managing Editor, ISP Planet, March 1, 2002 "We've been begging the FCC to establish a National Broadband Policy. On Feb. 14th the FCC took action-only it might turn out to be as bloody for ISPs as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre was for George 'Bugs' Moran's North Side Gang in Chicago, circa 1929." And this was an attack, led by Powell et al., against small businesses, using the Eisenach-Powell-et al. mantra of 'intermodal competition'. Who needs actual competition? In fact, the independent ISPs had consistently presented data to the FCC to defend their small businesses and it had fallen on deaf ears. The head of the Texas ISP Association, (TISPA) recounted his meeting with Chairman Powell and senior staffers at the FCC Enforcement Bureau. "The meeting was Tuesday May 8th, 2001. In a nutshell, all the "bad acts" submitted to them to date have resulted in exactly "ZERO" dollars in fines. We asked for something blatant as handwriting on a wall as to the future of the complaint process as we are approaching it. We got it. WE SHOULD EXPECT NOTHING FROM THE INFORMAL COMPLAINT PROCESS. We should expect nothing from any complaints we have submitted to date. "A couple of weeks ago we met with a senior person in the ENFORCEMENT BUREAU. After a one-hour meeting and receiving some heartfelt empathy for the plight of ISPs and the consumers who are being victimized by the illegal, anti-competitive behavior, I suggested that our best move might be to just jump out a window. He suggested we might want to consider throwing a chair out of the window first, so we wouldn't get cut on the glass as we jumped." By the end of 2005-2006, 7,000 small ISPs had been put out of business. And while there are a host of caveats, the main attacks came, not from market forces, but from the FCC's failure to enforce the existing laws, or they erased the laws on the books. In fact, the FCC had 're-regulated' the CLECs and ISPs out of business. And surprise, surprise, guess who was able to simply walk in and take over their business? The phone and cable companies had a feast by taking over the market. Ironically, this was the FCC's idea of 'light touch' regulation. Let us be clear and this is worth repeating: The Telecom Act of 1996 was the deregulation of the state utility wires to allow competition. The FCC's play post 2001 removed this deregulation, regardless of what the corporate-funded think tankers tell us. And the sad outcome? Now, when someone mentions the term "ISP", they think of the incumbent phone and cable companies. To date, the FCC has never properly defended small business rights, especially the ISP and CLEC markets. The Start of Net Neutrality: No Competition, so Play Nice. Eisenach writes: "Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple - an effort by one group of private interests to enrich itself at the expense of another group by using the power of the state." Net Neutrality concerns started at this time, in earnest, because competition had been killed off and there were only monopoly/duopoly providers who controlled the essential wired utility infrastructure and who could screw around with the customer and any remaining competitors. The consensus was - something was needed so that they would 'play nice', and it was Net Neutrality. However, it was NOT designed to re-open the networks to direct competition. Unfortunately, in this case, the "cronies" are Eisenach and his clients, including Verizon, who used the FCC to shut down the entrepreneurs--the initial group of ISPs--to take over their business with the help of the government, the FCC. What to expect in 2017? This new FCC will be worse. It will be the Powell FCC on steroids, if we let it. NOTE: If all this is news to you, see "The Book of Broken Promises". -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
By now we've all heard about it. Facebook has a fake news problem, a rampant epidemic of phony and outrageous headlines in which a fraction-of-a-penny-per-click gets traded for lies. The problem is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't believe these accusations nor that Facebook may have unfairly influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He thinks it's a "pretty crazy idea." According to him, more than 99 percent of what people see in their news feed is authentic. But they are not. Just ask the people who work at Facebook, who formed a secret police to investigate and regulate where their employer's actions went wrong. The bottom line is that truth doesn't matter here. And by not doing enough, Facebook has become a silent majority supporting the incentivizing of lies and ill-gotten gains. Why these phony sites circulated invented news have come to be isn't the issue. We get that they put food on the table for people overseas working to support themselves or their family. According to BuzzFeed News, one Macedonian town alone has 140 U.S. political websites. These sites don't act pro-Trump as much as just follow the action. They learned that Trump supporters crave sensationalist headlines that support their theories and beliefs. In other words, they want to hear what they want to hear and will look for proof in support of it. Democrats apparently don't take the same bait. According to Gizmodo, 38 percent of right-leaning news stories on Facebook contained inaccuracies or falsehoods as compared to 19 percent of left-leaning news stories. Even worse, those numbers skyrocketed for Trump during the lead-up to the presidential election. One interesting point worth mentioning here is how Facebook even knows and categorizes in the first place whether you are a liberal or conservative. Yes, that's right, they do this. In certain instances, people identify themselves as such. But in most cases, the platform identifies your political leanings based on pages you like, topics you discuss, and your interests. It's another piece of what I call your permanent record, that nasty trail of thousands of bits of information about you that aggregated into your permanent data packet. That information then gets plugged into an algorithm to flood you with content in alignment with your perceived beliefs, skewing your perception of the world. If only a small percentage of readers used Facebook for their news feed, the impact would be minimal. But 62 percent of Americans get their news from social media; 44 percent of adults get it from Facebook. 79 percent of American adults who use the internet are on Facebook; More than 1.8 billion people total around the world. The end result is you open the door to swap responsible journalism for salacious gossip, real truths for consequences, honesty for a dollar sign. Facebook profits by selling ad space inside its news feed and brokering deals between advertisers and other online companies. Such actions reveal a winning hand for its shareholders but a loss to the American population. This time, it was our election, next time perhaps something on a world scale. The simple truth is cryptic algorithms that focus on the volume of clicks and not the veracity of the words are bad for society. Flooding users with lies about subjects that matter to them plays on their vulnerabilities and subjectivity, which drives them to fall prey to deceptions. It also unwittingly makes us co-conspirators by sharing lies with our friends. This doesn't bring us together as Zuckerberg wants Facebook to do, but rather polarizes us on opposite ends of the spectrum, comfortably in our filter bubbles, wound tightly to our own beliefs. This presidential election had enough 'truthiness' issues from the candidates themselves. Back in October, PolitiFact estimated that 26 percent of Hillary Clinton's statements were mostly false and a whopping 70 percent of Trump's proclamations were as well. Simple math shows that if you take Trump's abundance of falsities and combine it with Facebook's false headlines, the truth becomes an anomaly lost in a forest of fiction. When Facebook promotes false headlines, it does so knowing it does not monitor truth, only the clicks, engagement and profit. The rest is up to you or me. At the end of the day, who are we to know what is and is not true? That's why we have the news. Or so we thought. That's also the criticism behind Fox News preying on people's beliefs that news on TV must be true to forward its own particular agenda. In Zuckerberg's mind, Facebook is about connections. It's the flow of information. The last thing he wants his company to be labelled as is a media corporation. If it was, the company would face a whole different level of regulations, such as those followed by Comcast or Time Warner. Facebook as a media company puts an onus of responsibility to monitor and filter fact from fiction. Facebook doesn't want such responsibility. Even though it should naturally follow such practices, it would rather have it be a voluntary choice versus a legally-mandated one. Studies show that roughly 20 percent of American social media users have changed their views on a political or social issue because of something they saw on social media. One in five may not seem like a lot, but within an election in which Trump won battleground states such as Michigan and Wisconsin by less than 30,000 votes each, you open up a Pandora's box that changes politics. Furthermore, according to a study published in Nature, almost 340,000 extra people turned out to vote in the 2010 US congressional elections because of a single election-day Facebook message. That's more of an immediate impact than any TV ad other than perhaps Willie Horton and Daisy Girl could muster. Back in May we learned that trending news on Facebook was controlled and edited by people and not algorithms. This led to an uproar by conservatives when they learned that stories in line with their beliefs were being suppressed from them. The end result there was that Facebook fired the trending team to appease the conservative outcry, while of course their algorithms remained vigilant. Ironically, that team was also responsible for ensuring that the trending news was at the very least real. The end result to all of this may very well have been to elect a president. Google and Facebook, per usual, have already responded with supposed actions to help reign in the issue. Google pledged to restrict fake news sites from using its AdSense advertising network. Facebook updated its policy to clearly state that its advertising ban applies to fake news. Yet they both still profit when fake news appears. It's kind of a click-fraud issue for Google - hard to seriously rein something lucrative in when it feeds your bottom line and your true mission is money, not service. How many times can we be duped by these giants whose interests are defined by data, algorithmic manipulation, and money? Their words and actions rarely align. Furthermore, Facebook has a documented history of issues with experiments on members, clickbaits and hoaxes, furthermore calling into question its ability and interest to regulate itself. Neither company really did that much to handle the problem at its source. The real issue is taking down the lies and keeping them from trending as current news. Much as Facebook itself would never support lies about its own personnel or institutions, neither should it support the sharing of such lies about the foundation of our democracy. At the end of the day, fake or real news can be distributed on any platform. Yet promoting the Pope as a Trump endorser when nothing could be further from the truth, and allowing that misinformation to reach millions of people, makes us look like Chinese and Russian news manipulators. While a powerful argument can be made that the words and actions of FBI Director Comey caused Hillary Clinton's loss - equally compelling is that Facebook had just as strong an impact influencing voters and causing Trump's election, perhaps more. Social media sites have a responsibility to the public to not tolerate lies and most important, not profit off of them. It's a vulnerability that will need to be addressed without impacting freedom of speech. Perhaps it is time for us to shake off Facebook's manipulating grip and take our friends to a better place. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Charter Communications (CHTR) is facing stiff competition from online video streaming service providers and has a highly leveraged balance sheet.
A county lawmaker in New York has a cheeky name for a new bill banning so-called “conversion therapy” for young LGBTQ people. Patrick Burke, a legislator for Erie County’s 7th district in Buffalo, introduced a bill this week that would ban LGBTQ conversion therapy practices for minors in the county, Time Warner Cable News reports. In a not-so-subtle nod to the anti-LGBTQ views of Vice President-elect Mike Pence, it’s called the Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment bill ― or PENCE. When Pence ran for Congress in 2000, he backed federal funding for “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” ― a euphemism for the discredited, abusive techniques used to try to reverse homosexuality, particularly in teenagers. Burke told Time Warner Cable News that the name has bothered some other Erie County legislators. “I had some, maybe a few folks who were maybe a little upset about the acronym and thought I was just trying to be cute, but no. These are serious times that we live in,” he said. Discrediting and eliminating gay conversion therapy, which often involves painful practices like electric shocks, has become a progressive priority in recent years as other barriers to LGBTQ equality have fallen. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order in February precluding insurance companies in the state from covering conversion therapy. At the same time, a bill to ban the practice altogether has stalled in the Republican-controlled New York State Senate. Five states have already banned conversion therapy: California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont and New Jersey. The Trump administration transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the PENCE bill. Pence has a long history as a socially conservative lawmaker opposed to LGBTQ marriage equality and other rights. Under pressure from LGBTQ groups and businesses, he modified a religious freedom law he passed as governor of Indiana to preclude businesses from denying service to LGBTQ residents based on the business owners’ religious beliefs. LGBTQ residents of the Hoosier State still lack specific protection against all forms of targeted discrimination, however. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
One of Donald Trump's top tech policy advisers has a plan: Do away with the main agency that protects the rights of internet users and media consumers in America. You heard that right. Mark Jamison, who Trump chose to help oversee the tech-policy transition team, thinks that getting rid of the Federal Communications Commission would be a good thing for this country. "Most of the original motivations for having an FCC have gone away," Jamison wrote last month, claiming that a heavily consolidated media marketplace would discipline itself to benefit ordinary people. He's dead wrong. Over the years, we at Free Press have had our beefs with the agency. But that's because the FCC was falling down on the job of protecting internet users and promoting media competition, diversity and localism. We've urged the agency to step up on behalf of the public interest to safeguard a free and open internet, to protect the privacy of internet users against prying service providers, and to promote market competition and affordability so more people can get online. When massive media companies have decided to become even more massive through acquisition, we've urged the agency to block the harmful mergers. And just as the FCC, under Chairman Tom Wheeler, has come closer to meeting these standards, we're facing a wholesale reversal from an incoming administration that seems more intent on doing the bidding of industry lobbyists and their surrogates. Jamison joins Jeffrey Eisenach on Trump's tech transition team. Both have deep financial ties to the telecom industry. They've spent time at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where so-called scholars do double-time as corporate lobbyists and consultants, rarely disclosing their conflicts of interest. For its part, AEI has received support from the AT&T Foundation -- the phone giant's charitable arm. Previous clients Eisenach has consulted for include Verizon, which had him on its payroll as he testified before Congress against issues like Net Neutrality. The New York Times made Eisenach the poster child for undue corporate influence over policymaking in a lengthy investigative piece that exposed his many conflicts. Jamison directs the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida where he's extolled the virtues of competition-crushing media mergers as innovative and good for consumers. The Center doesn't make public its full list of corporate sponsors, but its advocacy for every takeover involving AT&T is a good clue. Trump's tech-policy agenda is pretty much a blank slate -- meaning these two industry operatives will have free rein to set the terms. During the campaign, the Free Press Action Fund assessed Trump's positions on the few issues he did speak about, including Net Neutrality (he incorrectly thinks it's designed to "target conservative media") and encryption (he wants to break it), and found them harmful and misinformed. With the absence of clarity from Trump, Jamison and Eisenach are free to impose their agenda on the future of the FCC -- if it has a future at all. They've habitually opposed the communications rights of real people, prioritizing instead the monopoly-minded views of companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. They're willing to double deal, taking money from industry and its lobbyists on the one hand while declaring their independence on the other. And they see further consolidation of media giants as a boon for the big businesses that pay them, ignoring the many Americans who struggle to pay escalating costs to connect and communicate. If President-elect Trump were the least bit sincere about his claims to "drain the swamp" of lobbyists and special-interest operatives, he couldn't have done much worse than selecting these two. If he wants to make good on his pledge to block AT&T's $107 billion acquisition of Time Warner -- which he called "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few" -- he'll have to lock horns with these two big-media boosters. If we know anything about Trump it's that he's divisive, unpredictable and untrustworthy. The uncertainty surrounding his transition to power has created a void in Washington that seasoned lobbyists are scrambling to fill. Shaking up Washington is anathema to industry insiders like Jamison and Eisenach, who have been on the receiving end of the sort of big-money influence peddling that voters resoundingly rejected during the primaries and on Election Day. Business as usual is what a one-company town wants. But it's not what our democracy needs. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Now that the U.S. Census has released its newest estimate of median household income in the United States, it's time to consider where the U.S. federal government spending per U.S. household stands with respect to the Zero Deficit Line, which is the amount of spending that the typical American household can actually afford. The chart below shows those two measures for each year since 1967, when the Census first began reporting its median household income figure: Looking at the chart, we see that for the third year in a row, the amount of U.S. federal government spending per household is hovering just below $30,000 per U.S. household. Our tool below will reveal how much spending can actually be supported by the typical American household given its annual income of $50,054 (or whatever median household income level you might choose to enter!) Median Household Income Data Input Data Values Median Household Income How Much Federal Spending Per Household Can the U.S. Really Afford? Estimated Results Values Federal Spending per U.S. Household Using our tool, we find that in reality, the typical American household can only afford to have the federal government spend no more than $21,059. On a side note, do you remember the old Warner Brothers' Road Runner cartoons? The ones where Wile E. Coyote would be chasing after the bird, then suddenly find himself suspended in mid-air beyond the edge of a cliff, until he looked down and finally crashed back to earth? The level of federal spending per household since 2008 and the lack of meaningful growth in the incomes of U.S. households under President Obama, combined with all the talk these days of the approaching "fiscal cliff" suggests that there is one giant "splat" sound in the near future for the U.S.