Big Telecom's Power Grab: Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca
Hi I'm Lindsey and this is your Weekly News Update from OpenMedia.ca.
Today I want to talk a little more about big telecom company Bell's proposed takeover of Astral Media. If you caught last week's update, you know that Reilly talked about this in the context of Bell trying to get out of its public interest obligations. But now I want to talk a little more about the long-term implications of this merger: this is Canada's most powerful communications conglomerate potentially gaining control over another key content provider.
Canada already has some of the highest levels of media concentration in the industrialized world—more than twice that of the U.S.-- which means that a lot of what we watch or listen to (roughly seventy-eight percent of the television market, for example) is owned by fewer Big Telecom companies than I have fingers on one hand.
Obviously this is a problem if you care about diversity of voices. And slightly less obviously, if you care about the open Internet.
How does it work? Increased content holdings give Big Telecom companies an incentive to tighten their control over the pipes that all content (including competing content) flows through. The Internet is a big one. And Big Telecom's growth means they have even more power to go through with it.
This is the Big Telecom price-gouging cycle, which you can check out at the link in the video description. This general cycle has been ongoing for years and years in Canada, and it's largely what's to blame for our digital deficit.
A member of the pro-Internet community on Facebook put it well: "Sounds like Bell wants to take over as much of the communications business as they can, so that they can gouge customers even more than they do now."
Yes Canadians know from experience that Big Telecom’s unchecked dominance over our communications comes with higher prices, tighter contracts, more disrespectful customer service, and greater potential for surveillance.
But it's not just that. It's these media conglomerates, exercising their power on a multinational level, that push for secretive and extreme agreements like the TPP. Big Media lobbyists in the U.S. are largely to blame for the measures in the TPP that criminalize or otherwise restrict everyday use of the Internet.
The best way to stand up against Big Telecom's excessive expansion, and the invasive agreements that result, is to spread the word, and get people in your network engaged in this issue. Keep your eyes on the OpenMedia.ca website, or visit StopTheTrap.net for more details.
For the Internet, this is Lindsey with OpenMedia.ca signing off.