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June 24th, 2000

The AOL Time Warner merger must be stopped.

Yesterday news.com reported that AOL and Time Warner shareholders agreed to merge, putting a capstone on the announcements of the past few months that sent everyone into shock.

When I first heard about it, I couldn’t believe that AOL – the butt of millions of jokes, supplier of CD coasters to all Americans – would have a chance at buying out a media conglomerate. But it was true. I was flabbergasted then, as I am now. The possible company AOLTW (ugly acronym!) would simply have too much control over the media. Period.

AOLTW will have a foothold in every single media outlet except for newspapers, but people have been calling newspapers dead for about 20 years anyway, so I wouldn’t expect AOLTW to go there. What we might have is the most cross-pollination and dilution of brands in American history. You might be able to get a special Time version of AOL that will allow you to access content only with a Time Warner Cable branded Netscape browser on AOL DSL lines. They control the browser (questionable quality and all), the connection, the content, but most importantly, the experience. AOLTW could forever change how we see the net. Or, if not "us", then all sorts of new people.

I’m all for new people getting on the net, but what happens when you can’t access, say, the site for Prodigy because they compete with AOL for net access? It might be done. Or, the site will be rendered so horribly that you can’t help but not look (stealing a page out of Microsoft’s playbook).

Here is a brief list of the properties that AOLTW will own:

America Online
CompuServe
ICQ
Netscape
Winamp
Spinner.com
MovieFone
AOL Instant Messenger
Shoutcast
WB Network
HBO
Warner Bros. Records
Magazines: Time, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, People
Looney Tunes
Time Warner Cable

I can just picture Foghorn Leghorn pitching a specially-branded version of Netscape…. -pm

Posted in Consumer Commentary

FROM: Robert
DATE: Saturday June 24, 2000 -- 11:32:01AM
AOL owns the WB? Now I'm outraged!



FROM: Matt
DATE: Sunday June 25, 2000 -- 3:43:20PM
Newspapers dead but shitty magazines,movies,internerd sites,and lame tv trash alive?



FROM: Terry Murphy
DATE: Wednesday June 28, 2000 -- 12:25:12AM
Paul - If you think AOLTW has a corner on the media, then you must check out Viacom. Among its properties are CBS, MTV, Paramount Picutures, Blockbuster, UPN, Showtime, Nickelodeon, and tons of other things. Basically, it completely dwarfs AOLTW as far as name recognition goes (though not quite as diverse).

Personally, I think the the AOLTW merger is the most exciting thing to happen in a long time. It's not interesting from "look at how much of the media they own" standpoint (since AOL hardly contibuted anything), but it's interesting because all of that media is now married to an online service. The only thing to fear from an anti-trust point of view is the cable service with the ISP, but the rest of the merger (from a media standpoint) will be extremely exciting to witness.



FROM: Paul
DATE: Wednesday June 28, 2000 -- 12:44:16AM
Terry, yeah, I know all about Viacom insofar as their incredible reach. One of my friends once worked at a Blockbuster and coined a new slogan for Viacom: "We own everything."

My worry stems more from the incredible string of mergers we've seen lately - particularly among media companies and record labels (uhm, one in the same.) Maybe in a sense I'm being unfair to AOLTW by singling them out; Viacom is big, Sony is getting a lot bigger. I hate Unilever, too.

And on that note I'm not fond of DaimlerChrysler, either. I have a lengthy hit list. :)

I'll agree with you in that whatever happens will be worth watching, but I do fear the possibilities.



FROM: Marcus Mackey - back from the dead
DATE: Saturday July 1, 2000 -- 8:48:09PM
Well, I haven't been around this site in forever, and I keep forgetting to call Paul (hehe... sorry... :::grimacing smile:::) but; alas... my outtake on Time Warner is that the potential is grave, very grave, but there's so many grave possibilities overall in the modern capitalist market, that everything counterbalances and looks, well... mish-mashed. We can't break up every monopoly, and by rights we shouldn't... we should only break up those that leverage their power to stifle competition and delineate creativity.

AOL hasn't really done this, as all entities they've bought have remained in existence (even if not that profitable or lacking any real definied existence... products like Compuserve and Mirabilis [makers of ICQ] and Netscape all still exist) and continue to produce; which is more than can be said about the marvelous company from Redmond which has bought companies to shut them down, driven FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) into competitors by announcing some colossal vaporware product that never manages to materialize, thereby causing some upstart company to not only lose venture capital, but to not finish producing some ridiculously important product that consumers would die to have, but heretofore are delineated the opportunity because Microsoft desired to not have competition, and to win at all costs.

Don't believe me on the AOL/Time Warner deal not being the only big deal out there? Try AT&T/MediaOne's recent merger. This makes them the largest Cable company nationwide, owning some 60-70% of the Cable access across the U.S. (of which, I'm now a member of as I have mediaone.net as an ISP as well as a cable provider) as well as having technology vendors that make the cabling, make the hardware to handle the structure, and own percentages of other companies involved in the broadband industry.

Now, AOL is the largest ISP... but through TimeWarner, they gain the broadband potential to own, roughly 15% of the potential cable internet market (second largest to AT&T now; and these are predefined areas of the market, so when AT&T finally gets their act together, Paul will probably have their internet service in his area, of course... after he moves away) completely on their own. That's not a lot when you consider that overall AT&T, MediaOne, and their alliance with Microsoft will eventually yield settop boxes per agreement (probably running an AT&T bastardized version of some MSN client intertwined with Hotmail) that is "gravely" similar to the potential of what people fear from with AOL, Sun Microsystems, Netscape, and now... Time Warner. Also... for every Time Warner based TV program and media affiliate involved with the AOL merger, Microsoft, AT&T, and MediaOne bring the entire gamut of cable TV channels, as well as a tight involvement between NBC and Microsoft, which has yielded some large channels in the here and now (MSNBC not withstanding). Overall, what we have here is... Microsoft/AT&T and AOL/Sun/TimeWarner/Netscape competing on rather teeter-totter ground.

My whole concern I guess is that AOL hasn't really shoved anybody around or stifled competition like Microsoft has. They've created a product that while it's utter crap, and runs like hell... it is to the newbie, easy to use and draws a lot of people in (largest provider out there). Much like some Microsoft products are great (IE 5 for Mac and Outlook Express 5 for Mac), some of AOL's are pretty good too (AIM is pretty cool in itself, and much better than ICQ; even if most of AIM's newer features are derivatives of the cool things that ICQ does). So, my outlook is nothing needs to really be done at this moment, as we all need to take a wait and see outlook on where things are going to go.

Of course... just because you own the pipeline that the data transfers through, doesn't mean that you can't compete in the market by providing an easy to use service. The case in point is that my parents (definitely non-techies) use AOL over the Mediaone connection via AOL's BYOA (Bring Your Own Access). Honestly, AOL over a Mediaone connection is eerily quick, and pretty darn reliable (especially as of late). I don't mean to say that I like their service... but, it's not as bad as it usedta' be when I was one of the abused. LoL True, MSN holds the same potential to compete with AOL in this regard as both can be external services to any other pay or non-pay Internet Provider. However, when people think about where the internet is going... and where IA's (Information Appliances) are going... the internet and television are set to merge. When a company like AT&T can offer 300 TV channels, and instant web access with support for USB via their settop boxes, a modified version of MSN with AT&T getting some credit out of the deal, and have it work directly on your TV with Active Server Page application support via a modified MS IE browser... umm, can we say that Microsoft is already looking at controlling the computer industry in another area we all seemed to overlook.

True, settop boxes have failed to really take off... partly because of everyone's fear of WebTV (ick), however... that was a first try, and lord knows with affordable HDTV on the horizon, TV's are going to become like high-res monitors, cable access will allow e-commerce of the highest order to interact with media, and the internet will become like the 50,000+ TV channels and Media outlets that people have been drooling over the possibility for an eternity. Factor in that when given something for free as part of a monthly service, or just free in general, do they tend to look at buying a competing product? Would a traditional cable TV buyer pay for their connection through AT&T, and buy into a settop box from AOL when they can get the MSN-based box as an additional cost to their monthly fee? This is starting to sound like the browser bundling issue all over again, albeit this time... AOL and Microsoft both hold the potential to be at fault; yet Microsoft has the upperhand... in an area they've never had before (AOL beats MSN hands down overall in users and sales).

And just imagine... we'll all still be able to pick up DailyPing by that stage on one of these boxes while eating popcorn, watching Mission Impossible 5 (directed by Tim Burton for even more pointless drama and cameo's by Beetlejuice and a dancing parade of halloween inspired stop-action characters), and bitching about the good old days of clogged dialups, the rise and fall of BBS's, and pondering if the internet could become anymore commercial.

My biggest question is... how much of the future internet/television world will be clogged with porn sites? LoL How many TV channels will have an annoying banner hovering over the top of the screen because it's served by the future version of some bastard child/free server site like GeoCities or Angelfire? How many of these settop boxes will provide us with browsers that are so wacked in standards compliancy that we all havta' write sites in 20 different competing ways, with scripted detects and also still work with the people that buy "workstations" for their own personal use? The future has an interesting ring to it... as I can't wait to see who merges with who next, but... the potentials for grave outcomes are just as capable, as the potential promises a unified "world" economy has the potential of providing. We'll just havta' see I guess.

- Marcus Mackey
mmackey27@mediaone.net
http://twoseven.cjb.net/
http://mmackey27.cjb.net/
MMackey27 on AOL/AIM
8398380 (MMackey27) on ICQ



FROM:
DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 2:30:14 pm



FROM: Ken
DATE: Monday January 17, 2005 -- 12:37:18 am
They also own time magazine, cartoon network, and sports illustrated. They are the largest company merger, it is in guinnes book of worl records 2005.



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