Saturday, May 21, 2016

We are being overwhelmed by monopolies

From Robert Reich

As of today, Charter cable company officially owns Time Warner Cable and another operator, Bright House -- courtesy of a $65 billion mega merger that further concentrates cable TV and Internet service providers. This is likely to mean higher prices and lousier service for you. Already 55 percent of Americans have only one source of high-speed broadband service and most of the rest of us must choose from two (see below). The merger also means more political power in the hands of a few big cable companies. Charter was a major player in the plethora of industry lawsuits against the FCC’s net neutrality rule, and had a hand in watering it down. Meanwhile, several top Time Warner Cable executives, including CEO Rob Marcus, are leaving the company as of this week -- and being paid tens of millions of dollars on the way out the door.

The spate of mergers we’re seeing in Internet service providers, food processing and chemicals, banking, airlines, pharmaceuticals, and health insurance mean increasing market power and higher consumer prices in all these industries – which in turn mean hidden upward redistributions from consumers to executives and major shareholders. The other consequence is more concentrated political power – one reason why antitrust authorities are allowing these mergers to go through.

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