News corp in 2016 consolidating the directv acquisition case study

Waves of consolidation in the technology, telecom and entertainment industries have concentrated power over media content and delivery into just a handful of companies.

Today, there are only a few dominant players in each industry: While these companies have vertically integrated themselves to staggering degrees in their industries, what’s worse is the increasing pace at which they have sought to consolidate horizontally across sectors.

Social media, internet and phone service providers, newspapers, television, radio, sports, magazines, book publishers and streaming services are all increasingly intertwined below just a few owners, creating conflicts of interest in pricing and providing content.

It is no wonder that a news station like MSNBC, owned by the cable giant Comcast, would be reluctant to take on antitrust regulation or adjacent issues like net neutrality on its shows.

Facebook is under fire for (among other things) its involvement with Cambridge Analytica, a British data analytics firm funded by hedge fund billionaire and major Republican party donor Robert Mercer and formerly led by President Trump’s ex–campaign manager and strategist Steve Bannon.

Cambridge Analytica harvested data from over 87 million Facebook profiles (up from Facebook’s original count of 50 million) without the users’ consent, according to a report by the London Observer (3/17/18) sourced to a whistleblower who worked at Cambridge Analytica until 2014.

The users’ personal data was gathered through a survey app created by a Cambridge Analytica–associated academic named Aleksandr Kogan, who used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk micro-work platform and Qualtrics survey platform to gather and pay over 240,000 survey-takers.

AT&T’s bid to merge with Time Warner was blocked by the Justice Department on the grounds that AT&T, an internet service provider, could choose to favor media content owned by Time Warner—like its properties CNN, TNT and HBO—over that of its competitors, and ultimately increase prices for consumers.

While Obama did block some consolidation efforts, including the mergers of AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as that of Comcast and Time Warner, many large media and technology mergers and acquisitions during the Obama years have resulted in corporate behemoths with the power to stifle innovation, discourage competition and increase prices.

These mergers and acquisitions include Comcast and NBC Universal, AT&T and Direc TV, Charter and Time Warner Cable, Facebook and Instagram, Facebook and Whats App, Microsoft and Linked In, and Live Nation and Ticketmaster, among many others.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google (whose ad revenue totals over billion annually), and Facebook arguably maintain a duopoly over digital advertising.

Together, the two internet giants account for just under 60 percent of all non-China digital ad revenues in the world in 2017, according to e Marketer, a digital research firm.

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Worse than the breach itself, Facebook apparently knew about this data-harvesting for years, and in fact, according to another whistleblower who worked at the social media giant itself (Guardian, 3/20/18), had a policy of allowing developers to gather user data by linking apps with Facebook logins, as Cambridge Analytica did through its partnership with Kogan and his survey app.

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