THE BLOG
09/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Collusion Describes It For Me

Collusion: a secret understanding between two or more persons to gain something illegally.

As a person who has watched "the media" expand in its number of delivery opportunities over the last thirty years, I also have observed its pernicious consolidation since the 1996 Communications Act revision.

I also notice in the present health care debacle, that the rich and powerful only want more of "rich" and more of "power". So it is and has always been in the media.

The FCC has a quaint and arcane notion concerning over the air television. They actually pretend to believe that their responsibility to their rulemaking supports competition, diversity, and localism. Sadly there is no comparable "requirement" for cable networks, including those owned by General Electric or News Corp.

A couple of years ago The Wall Street Journal reported that major media companies -- News Corps' Fox, CBS, NBC, Universal and Viacom -- discussed the creation of a jointly operated on-line video hosting site to rival Google owned YouTube.

During most of the '50s through the mid '80s the "really big guys" would have been afraid to meet in the same room or restaurant. Their fear of the Anti Trust people from a relatively tough Justice Department was palpable. Boy has that ever gone away.

Under the administrations of Bush, Bush, and Clinton, the Feds managed to "look the other way" as the big guys succeeded in getting bigger and either joined forces in a variety of media ventures or tried to do just that.

The media in our country has grown under the control of a politically motivated regulatory process. What we have done under the battle cry of "deregulation" is to concentrate the power of the media into the hands of a few. They include: the Walt Disney Company/ABC, Newscorp/FOX, General Electric/NBC/CNBC/MSNBC, Viacom/CBS-UPN, and AOL/TimeWarner/CNN/theWB.

And now we move into the collusion between GE and News Corp. Here is apparently what they discussed.

Keith Olbermann of General Electrics' MSNBC and Bill O'Reilly of News Corps' FNC have been trashing each other. If you are the type of person who believes in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy then you will accept this was created by personal animus and big time philosophical differences. I in fact believe it but I also believe there was a case to be made that they did it in order to increase both of their ratings. What a quaint idea. As an Olbermann viewer I just loved the stuff that went on, contrived or not.

It was reported by several newspapers that an "off-the-record meeting" (whatever that is supposed to mean) was held in mid-May for their chief executives, and the parties agreed that in future the two "children" involved would play nice.

Needless to say, the fact that two of the largest media companies in the world had a meeting to discuss anything sets my hair on fire.

I am not certain that they broke any law, but how would it have been if they agreed to collude on advertising rates, policies, hiring practices and even more? These giant companies should not get together to discuss anything.

And now my silly second point.

When Steve Capus the head of NBC News fired Don Imus this is some of what he said at that time:

"... My primary concern has been and always will be the integrity of this division. We are the guardians of the good name of NBC News -- each and every one of us. There has been a trust placed in us. We must honor and respect this trust. That, in short, is why we have taken this action."

I can only wonder what Capus, one of the guardians of the good name of NBC News, had to say about the high integrity deal made between his GE masters (whoops I meant to say owners) and those pillars of journalistic integrity News Corp. As the President of NBC News one would assume he agreed to suppress Keith Olbermann.

I would only hope that if the reports are true, Capus has no choice other than to "fall on his proverbial sword" and resign.

Good Grief!

Norman Horowitz

normanhorowitz.com