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AOL, Time Warner join forces
By Nina Chiarelli
The world got a little bit smaller this week, with the merger of media moguls America Online and Time Warner.
The almost $165 billion which AOL paid for Time Warner results in what Michael Nolan, a Media, Information and Technoculture professor at Western, said is the largest merger in history.
"It is a gigantic merger and a real blockbuster in terms of bringing in a delivery system and content provider," he said. "It raises the question of the tremendous consolidation and convergence in the media."
Nolan said he believes these types of mergers will become more prevalent. "This is the trend," he said.
"I'm not so sure this is the best thing."
He explained in today's business markets, companies have no choice but to look to the internet as a form of communication. Nolan added the internet can be viewed as the evolution of communication and media.
Nolan also said the staggering size of the merger should prompt society to wonder what types of implications it will have.
"[AOL Time Warner] are going to have a lot of control," Nolan said of the diverse content AOL Time Warner customers will be provided with.
"There is a tremendous uniformity in the media and of views in terms of editorial content," he said, adding more than one hundred million people who currently subscribe to Time Warner publications will be affected by the merger.
Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the faculty of information and media studies, agreed with Nolan on the issue of content uniformity. "Lack of diversity in content is a fear," he said. "The structure of the industry will change."
Pendakur said the effect large media mergers will have on governing bodies, such as the Canadian Radio Telecommunications-television Commission, will also affect Canadians.
"In order to keep up with large companies on both sides of the border, Canada will have to restructure and restrategize to compete with [them]," Pendakur said.
He explained the global merging of companies which provide services to Canadians, whether on the internet or on television, may not have to abide by Canadian guidelines and regulations. The Canadian industry, therefore, would have to reconsolidate to compete.
Allan Gedalof, professor of English at Western, echoed Pendakur's sentiments of hesitancy.
"We should always be worried about this kind of thing," he said. "But I don't think we will see any [ramifications] soon."
He added the media industry was a large one which seems to be governed by industry, not content and he felt this merger reflects a trend of popular culture in North American society.
"It has an effect on the way we see the news, the way we see the world."