The Bell-Astral Media Monopoly

Right now Bell Media is attempting to buy out Astral Media for a proposed $3.38 billion. The two companies are in the elite circle of media that control the entire content the country watches. Among them are Cogeco, Quebecor, Eastlink and the state owned CBC. The buy out would allow the company to expand its share of the market from 29% to 38% (Bell disagrees and argues it would be 33.5%). This would give the merged companies a tremendous amount of power within that market. A power that is making its competitors very uneasy. These other elites have teamed up to try and convince the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Council) to block the purchase from taking place.

Obviously it is in the interests of the working class under these objective capitalist conditions that Bell not be allowed to buy out Astral Media. The claims of reduced original programming and price increases are absolutely true. The people would benefit far better by nationalizing all telecommunications so that it may serve the interests of providing affordable, reliable communication to the people of Canada. Its unlikely that will happen any time soon as currently the Conservative government is using any kind of petty excuse to try and have what we already have socialized made private.

Interestingly we have Karl Peladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor Inc, calling on the CRTC to block the purchase. This is hilarious given that he has put a great deal of resources in his media empire to promote the idea of removing government regulation from the industry. Almost daily in either the Toronto Sun newspaper or on SunTV he has some journalist complaining about the government regulating various industries, calling for the privatization of just about everything. They’re also calling for the privatization of of the CBC which is the state owned media. They think the state shouldn’t own media because it interferes with the free market.

Not to mention their recent fine from the CBSC for “journalist” Ezra Levant’s “Chinga tu Madre” insult thrown at a businessman. Both Sun Media and Levant have been lambasting the fine they received from a regulatory body SunTV voluntarily joined.

Even more interesting is the fact that Peladeau is trying to stop Bell Media from doing a similar thing to what he is doing right now with the CBC. Bell is trying to purchase a competitor to get a bigger share of the market. Peladeau is trying to have the CBC privatized so that they can buy up their assets and take its share of the market. Peladeau is almost literally trying to do the same thing as Bell, except he is trying use his connections with Brian Mulroney (former Conservative prime minister) who sits on the Quebecor board to get current Conservative prime minister Steven Harper to sell it too them. (Not to mention all the fear mongering they have been doing around state spending.)

This is really just typical capitalist hypocrisy, all the sides opposing the purchase of Astra Media would, if given the chance, do the same thing themselves. In fact Quebecor is actively trying to do the same thing with the CBC at this moment. All capitalists want regulation of an industry out of the way so they can do whatever it is they want regardless of how it will affect anyone or even the market itself. However when the actions of another doing the same thing affect them in a negative way, they immediately clamour for that same regulation to save them from their competition. They only want regulation when it will help them, but not when it will help others. Isn’t this a good example of selfishness? Only me, only I can have protection, no one else. This is a contradiction between private industry and state regulation. It hinders them from completely dominating and carrying out all kinds unethical behaviour, yet they know they will be destroyed without it. They both need it and hate it.

Why? Because they need it combat each other.

Here we can see as Marx pointed out a contradiction even among the ruling class. Its true that the elite own and control the media to suppress the working class giving the power to their own. But they are not some monolithic conspiracy as put forward by Zeitgeist or by Alex Jones-types. They are in competition with each other, they are in contradiction. The ruling elite could maintain an absolute stranglehold over the working class, that would be almost unbreakable, if they co-operated together. However this can never really be the case, because after all they are in competition with each other because they are capitalists. Thus they undermine and weaken each other when it is to their benefit whenever possible. So there are contradictions even among the ruling class.

This is one of the reasons why the Nazis were so powerful and effective at what they did, they carried out fascism. They merged corporate power with the power of the state under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. When capitalist power and state power are merged, they became a near invincible foe. This this is certainly recognized even among rightist forces. They have an unscientific view of it, being that all government is this. Its a merger of capitalist power and state power. Regardless, they do recognize the danger of allowing corporations and government to merge into one entity.

Its important that we understand the class relations that exist in society so that we can better understand the world we live in. With this knowledge we begin to see how revolution is possible and why it is necessary.