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Old Media personalities who decry “media consolidation” are actually fighting to protect the AP News Cartel (“APEC”) 5/11/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in AP, Cartel, Consolidation, McChesney, Moyers.

When Old Media dinosaurs like Robert McChesney and Bill Moyers preach to us about the looming catastrophe of media consolidation by large, greedy corporations, it is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. What is really happening is the break-up of a large, greedy, Old Media news cartel. In a traditional cartel like oil’s Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a group of producers colludes to set their prices higher than they would otherwise be if they actually competed with each other. Newspapers set-up their own cartel in the 19th century, the Associated Press (AP). It allowed papers to work together for their mutual benefit to pool the high cost of original reporting. It seemed innocent enough, but soon after its formation, AP members began to snuff-out potential competitors by essentially giving themselves the power to deny membership to others within their local markets, preventing them from enjoying these much lower news production costs.

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court found the AP in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1945, and forced them to change their bylaws, not a single, financially self-sustaining metropolitan daily newspaper has been founded in the 60+ years since that decision. The reason is that the AP, now joined by the NY Times and WaPost wire services, still works as an effective cartel against new competition, even without denying membership. Today, what I call the “Associated Press Editorial Cartel” or “APEC” functions as a group of news producers who collude by sharing the same set of news stories and news angles. This pushes their news production costs lower than if they actually competed against each other based on news content. But more importantly, it pushes news production costs far lower than would-be competitors would be able to achieve if they were actually foolish enough to try to compete by creating their own, original news stories and angles. Old Media types often warn us about the evil done by “Big Tobacco,” “Big Pharmaceutical,” and “Big Oil.” But, they never utter a word about the harm that has been done by “Big News,” which has denied us a multitude of voices.


1. Larry - 5/12/07

A little off subject, but close enough to link:


Note the public comments to this article from the CBS dinosaur!

2. robojiannis - 4/11/08

My problem is that there’s nothing special online anymore. I’m searching for something very interesting and cant find anything!

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