It was hilarious to witness
the widespread horror at Time Warners decision last
week to keep ABCs channels off its cable systems.
"[T]he shutdown of any major news outlet is a kick
in the head to the public interest," thundered William
Safire. A powerful corporation throwing its weight around?
What a horrifying notion!
dispute had started with Disney trying to shake down Time
Warner, demanding that the cable company provide the Disney
Channel as a basic rather than a premium service. In addition,
Time Warner should pay more to carry ESPN. And to top it
off Time Warner should either carry two new Disney channels
(Toon Disney and Soap Network) or pay for the ABC stations
that it currently carries for free. A lot of haggling ensued
until Time Warner finally got fed up and pulled the plug.
the republic survived. If you wanted to, you could still
watch ABC. All you had to do was disconnect the cable. Moreover,
as an article in Slate pointed out, while cable companies
"have considerable power locally
are many significant players. No single cable system controls
what most Americans can or cannot see
Who Wants To
Be a Millionaire posted pretty respectable numbers on Monday
night despite the several-city blackout." Yet who cares?
Americas networks are virtually indistinguishable
from one another. CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox its the
same mindless entertainment and spoon-fed "news"
to fill space between ads. A "market-driven TV system
that delivers an unbelievable array of entertainment at
affordable rates" in the breathless words of a
Washington Post editorial writer. Even editorial
writers are now in the marketing business.
Time Warner and America Online announced their proposed
merger a few months ago the hacks could barely contain their
joy. Time Warner would get access to the Web now almost
totally dedicated to the important business of buying and
selling, rather than information and research. And AOL would
get access to Time Warners high-speed cables to make
Internet usage really fast. And there was lot of inane futuristic and
pointless guff about film, tv shows, videos and whatnot
becoming available on the computer screen.
one thing that was not discussed is who would control the
Internet. Government regularly censors cable television.
It would surely do the same to Internet content going through
cable. As a matter of fact, government is not necessary:
Internet content producers will have to shell out big bucks
to get access to the high-speed cables. Those unable to
come up with the money will inevitably be marginalized.
Moreover, even those with money will find themselves subjected
to careful supervision by AOL. As explained in AOLs
Terms of Service: "[O]ur content partners are expected
to ensure that their content on the service reflects our
community standards. We reserve the right to remove content
that does not meet those standards
In most places
on AOL, vulgar language or sexually explicit conduct are
no more appropriate online than they would be at Thanksgiving
If you see it, report it.. Hate speech is never
is particularly irksome about these strictures is the suggestion
that the Internet somehow "belongs" to the Internet
providers. Internet providers like AOL provide nothing.
They are in fact parasites. Contrary to conservative fantasies
about Americas computer industry being a vindication
of entrepreneurial capitalism, the Internet was the creation
of the U.S. government the Pentagon. Just as AOL is
largely about buying and selling wares, so its politics
are shaped by its desire to turn everyone in the world into
an online consumer.
AOL embraces the globalism of our ruling elite. Currently,
the government is preparing to intervene in Colombia on
the pretext of fighting drugs. One of the leading cheerleaders
will be AOL. In March, Jim Kimsey, chairman emeritus of
AOL, went down to Colombia and met Manuel Marulanda, founder
of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). "He
that foreign investment is critical to
the prosperity of this country and I think is willing to
negotiate and to discuss possible solutions that will move
this country into the 21st century," Kimsey cooed after