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Weekly News from the President- A Victory, But What Kind?

The Comcast Time Warner transactions falling apart this past week IS a big public interest victory.  But whether it’s a short-term or long-term win is open to debate…and what it means for community media is far from certain.

If you live and work in one of the Comcast service areas that were to be swapped in the deal, you may be breathing a sigh of relief today. The prospect of moving to Charter or Greatland Communications, which had either a poor or non-existent history of working with local communities and PEG media, seemed dim at best.

And there are some Charter communities who are sorry the deal didn’t go through – because they actually looked forward to improved relations with Comcast [Really…Go ahead and read that sentence again].

And there are plenty of people in Time Warner communities who wonder what’s next. Charter is already being cast as the next takeover candidate for the company which seems more interested in selling itself than investing in the communities it serves.

Yes, it is nice to see the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission stand up for consumer rights – it was their insistence on modifying the structure of Comcast rather than placing conditions on a merger that killed the deal. The agencies listened to the concerns of Comcast’s competitors and public interest advocates and showed some spine.

But will we see similar backbone on the AT&T DirecTV merger, a BIGGER media consolidation deal that reduces competition for 5 million American consumers, and rewards a corporation that has consistently abused the public interest in its treatment of PEG media? I hope so, and that’s why ACM continues to press the case of local communities with the FCC in that deal.

And it’s why we’ll continue to plead the case of our members in Washington, because this fight over media consolidation won’t be the last, and we need to have local voices and concerns in the national media debate.

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I am pleased to announce the launch this week of ACM’s Mentor Network! The idea is simple:  By strengthening and deepening the human connections in our industry, we will grow and sustain new talent in community media and give people a chance to give back to others. ACM Members who apply to the Mentor Network will be matched with professionals around the country to share expertise and get advice in a confidential setting. If you’re interested in applying to be a Mentor or get a Mentor, or know colleagues who would benefit from this one-to-one professional development experience, you can find application forms here.