The question of the week that proved to be the theme of my case study presentation was, "Who controls and monitors the media?" To answer the question, I analyzed the three different branches of our federal government. I looked at the different branches to understand how the role that each of the branches plays. Then I applied this knowledge to the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable back in 2014 and examined why it failed.
Congress plays an important role in the process by creating and amending statutes (laws) at both the federal and state levels. They turn principles from the Constitution into more operational and concrete rules. Specifically, the Energy Subcommittee on Communication and Technology in the U.S. House of Representatives is involved in the first steps of laws that concern telecommunication and media.
We learned that the FCC is the primary agency in the executive branch that has an impact on media. They create policy and enforce regulations, while also enforcing legislation as it relates to the media industry. The FCC reportedly decided that they were set to block the merger between Comcast and Time Warner because it was not in the public's interest (Brodkin, 2015). Speaking for the public and working to make them satisfied with their service is another major responsibility of the FCC. The public saw this merger as a threat to competition because of the monopoly Comcast would create. Comcast would also have been able to control prices in the market as well as reduce innovation.
To learn more about the economic concerns about that surrounded the Comcast and Time Warner deal, examine this analysis by Scott Wallsten that takes a look at possible benefits and concerns.
The Department of Justice, because they are the primary enforcer of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, played another important role in this deal by taking a larger look at the restraint of trade that it would cause. Not long after the government began to examine the deal in April of 2015, was it being reported that the Department of Justice was preparing to serve an antitrust lawsuit against Comcast and Time Warner Cable (Brodkin, 2015). Then, the two companies would have been taken to Federal Court, most likely the Supreme Court which is the ultimate arbiter in the judicial branch.
While the main institutions that regulate media rest in the executive branch (FCC & Department of Justice), the two other branches play pivotal roles in monitoring the industry. The public also plays a large role through actions such as voting and becoming involved with public interest groups. My case study of the Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger shows that the government works to protect a competitive media industry. Without the FCC and the Department of Justice intervening, the deal could have been passed and go on to damage the market while poorly treating customers around the world.
■Comcast / Time Warner Cable / Charter Transactions Terminated. (2015, April 24). Retrieved February 07, 2018, from https://corporate.comcast.com/news-information/news-feed/comcast-twc-charter-transactions-terminated
■Brodkin, Jon. Comcast/TWC merger may be blocked by Justice Department. (2015, April 17). Retrieved February 07, 2018, from https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/04/comcasttwc-merger-may-be-blocked-by-justice-department/
■Ajit Pai. (2017, October 13). Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://www.fcc.gov/about/leadership/ajit-pai
■Representative Marsha Wedgeworth Blackburn (Marsha) (R-Tennessee, 7th) - Biography from LegiStorm. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://www.legistorm.com/person/bio/51279/Marsha_Wedgeworth_Blackburn.html
■Tune, H. (2015). Positive Law vs. Good Intentions: The Legality of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger. Elements, 11(1). Retrieved February 7, 2018. https://ejournals.bc.edu/ojs/index.php/elements/article/view/8818
■Wallsten, S. (2014). An Economic Analysis of the Proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger. Retrieved February 7, 2018. https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/7521750971.pdf