Why I Oppose the Comcast-TimeWarner Merger

When it comes to the entertainment industry, it’s always worth listening to former TimeWarner executive Howie Klein. Here’s what he has to say (boldface mine):

As Ken pointed out, he’s an East Coast victim of TimeWarner Cable; I’m a West Coast victim of TimeWarner Cable. I’m also a former divisional president of TimeWarner. In its heyday, employees had every reason in the world to be proud of the company, it’s commitment to serving its employees, its customers and the public. The father of the company, Steve Ross, who died in 1992, was considered a visionary. He was also a sharp businessman who made his shareholders gigantic returns on their investments and built a gigantic company with an eye on sustainability. And for the people who worked for him, he had a very clear message. We would prosper so long as we took the interests of our shareholders, our employees, our artists, our customers and the society around us into account. I heard about the concept of stakeholders from Steve. And we took that seriously. His vision ended on January 10, 2000 when Jerry Levin and Dick Parsons sold the company to huckster and financial predator Steve Case of AOL. An aggressive gnat swallowed a whale and the stakeholders were suddenly the enemy. Within 15 minutes of meeting Steve Case for the first time I decided to retire at the ripe old age of 52. He had a vision too– screwing the shareholders, the employees, the artists, the customers and society. Gone were the days that TimeWarner was the biggest contributor to the Democratic Party and to progressive initiatives in the United States. TimeWarner would never again be a force for good– just a force for ripping off everyone it came in contact with. Last week a supervisor suggested to one of my neighbors that she dump her cable system and get DirectTV.

One of the unmentioned trends of the last few decades is moral decay of those who run our systems of governance (note that I wrote governance, not government). Amidst all of the hubbub about the supposed foibles of the poor–and now the middle class too–the ethical degeneration of the elite has mostly gone unremarked, though the occasional utterances (e.g., Tom Perkins) hint at this phenomenon.

And the congregation responds: This is why we can’t have nice things.

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