Sunday, March 16, 2008

huge global media giants aren't friendly guests in our home, but hydra-headed monsters.

Global Media Giants ....

The year 2000 saw some staggering media mergers. The results, if you believe all the hype, will be beneficial, benign and transform the way we use the media. Don't believe it. To pay for the staggering costs of the mergers, consumers are going to be bombarded with incessant cross-media promotions. These huge global media giants aren't friendly guests in our home, but hydra-headed monsters. Unless we act to create democratic and accountable media that are regulated in the public interest, their power to influence governments, culture and the way we obtain accurate information about the world will be boosted enormously.
Gerald Levin, chief executive, AOL Time Warner has a different view. In a CNN discussion on the future of the media, a few days before the AOL Time Warner merger, he predicted global media would become the dominant industry of the 21st century — so powerful that they might in fact become more powerful than governments. "So what's going to be necessary is that we're going to need to have corporations redefined as instruments of public service," he said, adding: "It's going to be forced anyhow because when you have a system that is constantly available everywhere in the world immediately, then the old-fashioned regulatory system has to give way."
In 2001, however, a more somber note was being struck, as jobs and investment were cut in online operations by global media conglomerates, television networks, newspaper groups and Web sites. The media, which a year ago had been uncritically reporting and praising global media mergers, began to point to some of the less palatable consequences.
Media Are Different
"Antitrust is more than economics. And I do believe that if you have issues in the newspaper business, in book publishing, news generally, entertainment, I think you want to be more careful and thorough in your investigation than if the very same problems arose in cosmetics, or lumber, or coal mining.
"I mean, if someone monopolizes the cosmetics field, they're going to take money out of consumers' pockets, but the implications for democratic values are zero. On the other hand if they monopolize books, you're talking about implications that go way beyond what the wholesale price of books may be."
— Robert Pitofsky, chair, U.S. Federal Trade CommissionInternational Herald Tribune, November 30, 2000

The Big One: AOL Time Warner
January 10, 2000 America Online and Time Warner announce a merger in a stock swap valued at $350 billion.
October 11, 2000 The European Commission clears the merger but makes Time Warner drop its plans for merger with EMI, the U.K.-based music group.
December 14, 2000 The Federal Trade Commission approves the merger.
January 11, 2001 The Federal Communications Commission approves the merger with conditions to maintain competition on Time Warner's high-speed cable lines. AOL's shares have fallen by 35 percent since the merger was announced, to around $105 billion from $160 billion.
January 16, 2001 Allan Sloan comments in The Washington Post: "So this isn't a merger. It's a takeover by the incredibly prescient — or incredibly lucky — people at American Online. In return for shares that, absent this deal, would probably be trading at roughly the level of whale droppings, AOL gets to own some of the most valuable media properties on the face of the planet."
Chairman, Steve Case; CEO, Gerald Levin Employees: 79,000 Revenues: $31.8 billion
BOOKS Time Life Books; Book of the Month Club; Warner Books; Little, Brown and Company; Little, Brown and Company (U.K.); and 19 other book brands such as History Book Club
CABLE/DBS HBO USA; HBO Home Video; HBO Pictures/Showcase; HBO Independent Productions HBO Downtown Productions; HBO NYC Productions; HBO Animation; HBO Sports; Cinemax; Time Warner Sports; HBO International; HBO Asia; HBO en Espanol; HBO Olé (with Sony); HBO Poland (with Sony); HBO Brasil (with Sony); HBO Hungary; Cinemax Selecciones.
OTHER OPERATIONS HBO Direct (DBS); Comedy Central (50 percent owned with Viacom); CNN Time Warner Cable (13 million customers in USA); Road Runner (high-speed cable modem to the Internet); and 16 others, including New York City Cable Group with over one million subscribers.
MOVIES AND TV (Production and Distribution) Warner Bros.; Warner Bros Studios; Warner Bros. (production); The WB Television Network; Hanna-Barbera Cartoons; Warner Home Video; and nine other national and international operations, including Warner Bros. International Theaters (owns/operates multiplex cinemas in 12 countries).
MAGAZINES Time; Fortune; Life; Sports Illustrated; People; Entertainment Weekly; and 26 other magazines, including DC Comics and Mad Magazine. 120 million magazine readers
ONLINE SERVICES America Online (over 22.2 million subscribers); AOL International (4.4 million subscribers in 14 countries, services in seven languages); portal; CompuServe Interactive Services; AOL Instant Messenger; AOL Europe; AOL MovieFone; Netscape Communications; Road Runner; and @Home.
MUSIC Warner Music Group: Recording labels include Atlantic Group; Atlantic Jazz; Elektra; Warner Bros. Records; Reprise; Warner/Chappell Music (publishing company); and 47 other labels, including Warner Music International.
RETAIL/THEME PARKS/MERCHANDISE Warner Bros. Studio Stores (stores in over 30 countries); Warner Bros. Recreational Enterprises (owns and operates theme parks); Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
TURNER ENTERTAINMENT (cable, sports franchises) Entertainment Stations: TBS Superstation; Cartoon Network; Turner Classic Movies; Cartoon Network in Europe; Cartoon Network in Latin America; TNT; and Cartoon network in Asia/Pacific.
Film Production: New Line Cinema; Fine Line Features; Turner Original Productions.
Sports: Atlanta Braves; Atlanta Hawks; Atlanta Thrashers; Turner Sports.
Other operations: Turner Learning; CNN Newsroom (daily news program for classrooms).
"The combination will be, for better or worse, the world's biggest media conglomerate (of which Time [magazine] will be a part). It's a vast empire of broadcasting, music, movies and publishing assets, complemented by AOL's dominant Internet presence, all fed to consumers, ultimately, through Time Warner's cable network. Think of it as AOL Time Warner Anywhere, Anytime, Anyhow."
— Time magazine, December 25, 2000
#1: AOL Time Warner
#3: Bertelsmann AG
#5: News Corporation
#2: The Walt Disney Company
#4: Viacom
#6: Vivendi Universal

The Walt Disney Company
In 1995 Disney made one of the biggest acquisitions in business history with the purchase of Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion.
Disney's 1999 Annual Report gave some disappointing financial results, with revenues increasing only 2 percent and operating income declining 21 percent to $3.2 billion. Michael D Eisner's statement to shareholders is a revealing insight into the workings of a global media corporation.
Chairman and CEO: Michael D Eisner Revenues: $23,402 billion
BOOKS Walt Disney Company Book Publishing; Hyperion Books; Miramax Books.
CABLE The Disney Channel; Toon Disney; ESPN Inc. (80 percent), includes ESPN; ESPN 2; ESPN News; ESPN Now; ESPN Extreme; Classic Sports Network (with AT&T); A&E Television (37.5 percent); The History Channel (with Hearst and GE); Lifetime Television (50 percent); E! Entertainment (34.4 percent).
TELEVISION United States: ABC TV and radio networks; 10 television stations; 29 radio stations.
International: The Disney Channel U.K.; and seven other countries, including France, Italy and Spain; ESPN Inc. International; Eurosport (33 percent); Sportsvision of Australia (25 percent); ESPN Brazil (50 percent); ESPN STAR (50 percent); and sports programming throughout Asia. Net STAR (33 percent), owners of the Sports Network of Canada. Minority stakes in Tele-Munchen Germany; RTL-2 Germany; Hamster Productions France; TV Sport of France; Tesauro of Spain; Scandinavian Broadcasting System; Eurosport England; Japan Sports Channel.
"ESPN International dominates televised sport, broadcasting on a 24-hour basis in 21 languages to over 165 countries. It reaches the one desirable audience that had eluded Disney in the past: young, single, middle-class men. 'Our plan is to think globally but to customize locally,' states the senior vice president of ESPN International in Latin America. The emphasis is on soccer; in Asia it is table tennis; and in India ESPN provided over 1,000 hours of cricket in 1995." — Robert W. McChesney, "The Global Media Giants" in Extra!, November/December, 1997
TELEVISION PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION Buena Vista Television; Touchstone Television; Walt Disney Television; Walt Disney Television Animation (production facilities in Japan, Australia, Canada).
FILM PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION Walt Disney Pictures; Touchstone Pictures; Hollywood Pictures; Caravan Pictures; Miramax Films; Buena Vista Home Video; Buena Vista Home Entertainment; Buena Vista International.
MAGAZINES/NEWSPAPERS Five magazine publishing groups: ABC Publishing Imprints; Disney Publishing Inc.; Diversified Publications Group; Miller Publishing Group. Titles include Automotive Industries; Disney Magazine; ESPN Magazine (distributed by Hearst); Institutional Investor; Kentucky Prairie Farmer.
Four daily newspapers, including St. Louis Daily Record.
ONLINE SERVICES Buena Vista Internet Group; ABC Internet Group;;;; Mr. Showbiz; Disney's Daily Blast;;; ESPN Internet Group;; (60 percent);;;; Go Network; Infoseek (43 percent); (majority stake, educational toys).
Disney Interactive (develops and markets computer software, video/DVD games, CDs)
MUSIC Buena Vista Music Group; Hollywood Records; Lyric Street Records; Mammoth Records; Walt Disney Records
THEATER Walt Disney Theatrical Productions (stage versions of "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast," "King David")
SPORTS FRANCHISES Anaheim Sports Inc.; Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (National Hocky League); Anaheim Angels (25 percent partnership) (Major League Baseball)
THEME PARKS and RESORTS Disneyland: Anaheim Disney; MGM Studios; Disneyland Paris; Walt Disney World; Disney's Animal Kingdom (Orlando, Florida); Walt Disney's World Sports Complex (golf, car racing and baseball complex)
The California Adventure Park, part of a $1.4 billion expansion in Anaheim, opened in February, 2001. McDonalds has a restaurant on the site, part of the ten year 'alliance' between the two companies. Under the alliance Disney is licensing its classic characters, such as Mickey Mouse, for use as the toy in McDonald's Happy Meals. McDonald's and Disney are also developing a promotion based on the television game show, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"
27 hotels with over 36,000 rooms Disney Cruise Line (two cruise ships) The Disney Institute
RETAIL The Disney Store (Disney merchandise), over 720 worldwide
The Mouse Wants Our Money "Disney is in the ironic position of being one of the best known brands on the planet, but with too little of its income being generated outside of the United States. The United States contains only five percent of the world's population, but it accounts for 80 percent of our company's revenues. If we can drive the per capita spending levels for Disney merchandise to just 80 percent of U.S. levels in only five countries — England, Italy, Germany, France and Japan — then we would generate an additional $2 billion in annual revenue." — Michael D. Eisner, letter to shareholders in Disney's 1999 Annual Report
Corporate Pressure On Journalism "Would a Kansas City Star, during its short-lived corporate affiliation with Mickey Mouse (when it was owned by the Disney company), have been less likely than under its former ownership (Capital Cities/ABC), or in its earlier incarnation as an employee-owned daily, to editorialize against the construction of a huge theme park next to a Virginian Civil War battlefield? There is no way of answering in that specific case, but such questions answer themselves as generalities. In 1998, ABC News discarded an investigative report that raised embarrassing questions about hiring and safety practices at Disney World." — Leo Bogart's book, "Commercial Culture."
#1: AOL Time Warner
#3: Bertelsmann AG
#5: News Corporation
#2: The Walt Disney Company
#4: Viacom
#6: Vivendi Universal

Bertelsmann AG
Chief executive: Dr. Thomas Middelhof Employees: 64,800 Revenues: $16.3 billion (includes 50 percent of CLT-UFA)
BOOKS "Today, Bertelsmann is the world's largest publisher. Our U.S. publishing group Random House alone ships over one million books a day." —
United States Random House; Ballantine; Fodor's; Knopf; Modern Library
Book Clubs: Book-of-the-Month Club; Doubleday Book Club; Bookspan (50 percent)
Canada Random House of Canada; Quebec Loisirs Book Club
U.K. Random House; Book CLUB BCA (U.K.); European Book Clubs; Bertelsmann Media (Switzerland); Circulo de Lectores (Spain); Circulo de Leitores (Portugal); Donauland (Austria); ECI (Netherlands); France Loisirs (France); Swiat Ksiazki (Poland)
South America Sudamericana
Pacific Random House Australia; Random House New Zealand
Germany Berlin Verlag; C. Bertelsmann Springer Verlag; and 15 other imprints covering all aspects of book publishing; Book Club Der Club
Online book sales Barnes& (40 percent); BOL
TELEVISION /RADIO CLT-UFA (merger of Audiofina, CLY-UFA and Pearson Television)
Television Stations: Germany RTL; RTL-2 (34.5 percent); SUPER RTL (50 percent, with Disney); Premiere World (5 percent, with KirchPayTV); VOX (joint venture with News Corporation)
England Channel 5
France FUN TV; M6; Multivision Teva
Netherlands RTL-4; RTL-5; RTL-9; RTL-Tele Letzebuerg
Hungary RTL Klub
Television Production: UFA Film and Television Production; Trebitsch Production; Delux Productions (Luxembourg); Cinevideo (Canada); Holland Media House (Netherlands); Pearson TV (U.K.); UFA Sports
Radio: France Radio RTL; RTL 2; Fun Radio
Germany Antenne Bayern; 104.6 RTL; Radio Hamburg; Radio NRW; RTL Radio
Belgium Bel RTL
Sweden 104.7 RTL; Wow 105.5
U.K. Atlantic 252
"With 22 television stations and 18 radio stations in ten countries, RTL Group is Europe's biggest broadcasting corporation." —
MAGAZINES Gruner Jahr is Bertelsmann's magazine division, publishing 80 magazines worldwide.
USA American Homestyle; Family Circle Inc.; McCalls; Parents
France Femme; National Geographic and 13 other magazines
Germany Stern; TV Today; Impulse Brigitte; and 17 other magazines
U.K. Best; Prima; Focus
Gruner Jahr publishes nine dailies in Germany and Eastern Europe, including the Berliner Zeitung
MUSIC Bertelsmann Music Group operates in 54 countries. U.S. labels include Arista Records, RCA; RCA Victor. Total of 200 labels worldwide. Other ventures include BMG Music Service; BMG Music Publishing. (The U.K. music group EMI is in discussions about merging with BMG)
SCIENCE AND BUSINESS The imprint Springer specializes in books ranging over subjects such as medicine, psychology, physics, astronomy, management, economics and law. It publishes 2,000 titles a year, 60 percent written in English. In addition it publishes a range of trade and professional literature for groups such as doctors, architects, and the construction industry.
SERVICES This division organizes the printing of Bertelsmann's books, magazines and catalogues. In the United States its printing companies include Berryville Graphics; Dynamic Graphic Finishing; Offset Paperback Manufacturing; in Germany, Elsnerdruck; maul-belser; and MOHN Media; in Spain, Printer Industria, Grafica. Bertelsmann Services Group organizes address and database management, call centers, and financial and e-commerce activity at 20 locations, mainly in the United States, Europe and South America.
ONLINE SERVICES Online shops for books, music, video/DVD in 16 countries Barnes & and
Search Engines Lycos Fireball (Germany); Fireball (Korea); Papertball
"We're not foreign. We're international. I'm an American with a German passport." — Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff
#1: AOL Time Warner
#3: Bertelsmann AG
#5: News Corporation
#2: The Walt Disney Company
#4: Viacom
#6: Vivendi Universal

September 7, 1999 Announcement of Viacom and CBS merger.
May 4, 2000 Federal Communication Commission approves merger. New company to be called Viacom, worth $90 billion.
Chair and CEO: Sumner M. Redstone President: Mel Karmazin Employees: 126,820 Revenues: $12.86 billion
BOOKS Division publishes over 2,000 titles annually under 38 trade, mass market, children's and new media imprints. These include Simon and Schuster; Scribner; The Free Press; and Nickelodeon.
BROADCAST AND CABLE CBS Television Network, with 200 affiliated stations; MTV Networks, reaching 342 million households worldwide; Nickelodeon, seen in over 300 million households worldwide; VH1; TNN; MTVN (also involved in other businesses that promote its brand, including films, books, online and consumer products); Paramount Television (six divisions supplying television programming); CBS Enterprises (distributes U.S. television programming); United Paramount Network (UPN) (200 affiliated stations); Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI) (owns the television networks); Showtime; The Movie Channel; FLIX
The CBS Television Stations Division consists of 35 television stations, 16 owned-and-operated CBS stations and 19 UPN-affiliated stations; Comedy Central (jointly owned by Viacom and HBO), an all-comedy network; and Viacom Plus, the company's integrated sales and marketing arm.
RADIO and OUTDOOR Infinity Radio: 180 radio stations in 34 U.S. cities make it one of the largest radio broadcasters in the USA. Infinity Outdoor and TDI Worldwide specialize in outdoor and billboard advertising. Together they comprise the largest advertising company in the world.
FILM PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION Paramount Pictures; Paramount Home Entertainment (films on video and DVD); Famous Players (107 cinemas with 856 screens in Canada); United International Pictures (UIP) (33 percent interest); United Cinemas International, a joint venture between Viacom and Vivendi Universal (104 cinemas in Europe, Japan and South America); Viacom Consumer Products, merchandising from film and TV programming; Famous Music Publishing, copyrights for music over seven decades
ONLINE SERVICES MTVi Group provides online music through;; CBS Internet Group comprises and 20 other Web sites, including Nickelodeon Online has a range of sites for children and parents.
VIDEO Blockbuster is the world's largest renter of videos, DVDs and video games. 7,300 stores in the United States and 26 other countries.
PARKS Paramount Parks has five North American theme parks, including Raging Waters (San Jose, California) and Star Trek: The Experience (Las Vegas, Nevada).
Viacom, From The Cradle To The Grave "You can literally pick an advertiser's needs and market that advertiser across all the demographic profiles, from Nickelodeon with the youngest consumers to CBS with some of the oldest consumers." — financial analyst in The New York Times, September 8, 1999
#1: AOL Time Warner
#3: Bertelsmann AG
#5: News Corporation
#2: The Walt Disney Company
#4: Viacom
#6: Vivendi Universal

News Corporation
The parent company of News Corporation's media empire is based in Australia, but to expand his media interests in the United States, Australian-born Rupert Murdoch became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1985.
Current U.S. law limits foreign companies to owning no more than 25 percent of a U.S. television or radio station. This has created problems recently for News Corporation over the $5.35 billion purchase of Chris-Craft Industries' 10 television stations. The Federal Communications Commission is investigating whether the purchase violates a 1995 ruling that limited News Corporation to acquiring stations only through its Fox Television Stations subsidiary, which Murdoch directly controls.
Chair and CEO: Rupert Murdoch Employees: 50,000 Revenues: $13.5 billion
BOOKS HarperCollins Publishing, including HarperCollins U.K.; HarperCollins Canada; and HarperCollins Australia. U.S. imprints include Perennial; Quill; Regan Books; Amistad Press; Hearst Book Group (acquired 1997); includes William Morrow; Avon; HarperCollins Children's Book Group; and Zondervan Publishing House (world's largest commercial Bible publisher).
CABLE/DBS USA Fox Sports Networks (21 networks covering major U.S. cities); Fox Sports Net (cable network with 60 million subscribers); Madison Square Garden Network (40 percent) with Cablevision; Speedvision (34 percent); Outdoor Life (34 percent); the Health Network (50 percent), with Liberty Media; Fox Family Worldwide; FOX News Channel
In January, 2001, reports suggested that Rupert Murdoch had ordered a clampdown on new investment and would conserve resources for the largest deal in the company's history, the $40 billion acquisition of DirecTV, the U.S. satellite broadcaster currently controlled by General Motors.
U.K. BSkyB (40 percent); Vivendi, as a result of its takeover of Universal has to divest its 24.5 percent stake in BskyB; Sky Digital, 150 channels and services including Sky One Sky News; National Geographic Channel (50 percent); The History Channel (50 percent); Paramount Channel (25 percent); Nickelodeon U.K. (50 percent); Premium channels including Sky Movies; Sky Movies Gold; Sky Sports
Germany TM3 (66 percent); VOX 49.9 percent
Australia FOXTEL (25 percent); Sky Network Television
China STAR TV, satellite service reaching 300 million people in India, China and Taiwan; Phoenix Satellite Television Company Ltd. (45 percent); Tianjin Golden Mainland Development Company Ltd. (60 percent); ESPN STAR Sports (50 percent); Channel [5] Music Networks (50 percent); VIVA Cinema (50 percent)
India Asia Today Ltd (50 percent) ; ZEE TV; Program Asia Trading Co. Pvt. Ltd. (50 percent); ZEE Cinema; ZEE News; Siticable Network Pvt. Ltd. (50 percent)
Other interests in Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, Latin America
MOVIES AND TV USA Fox Television Stations 22 stations (largest TV group in USA) Fox Entertainment Fox Kid's Network Fox Sports
Fox Filmed Entertainment: TV and film production from Twentieth Century Fox; Fox Animation Studios; Fox 2000; and Fox Searchlight; Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment; Twentieth Century Fox Television; Twentieth Century Fox Licencing and Merchandising
Fox Studios Australia Fox Studios Baja (Mexico)
MAGAZINES USA TV Guide Inc. (joint venture, 44 percent, with United Video Satellite Group); TV Guide (11.8 million circulation weekly); The Weekly Standard; News America Marketing (consumer promotions through Smartsource Magazine);
Canada News Canada Marketing; U.K.; The Times Education Supplement; The Times Higher Education Supplement; The Times Literary Supplement; Nursery World
U.K. The Times; The Sunday Times; The Sun; The News of the World
Australia More than 100 national, metropolitan, suburban, regional and Sunday titles. National: The Australian; The Weekend Australian New South Wales: The Daily Telegraph; The Sunday Telegraph Sportsman; Cumberland Newspaper Group (20 titles in the Sydney suburbs); Victoria: Herald Sun; Sunday Herald Sun; The Weekly Times (30 titles in the Melbourne suburbs); Queensland: The Courier Mail (41.7 percent); The Sunday Mail (41.7 percent); Gold Coast Bulletin (41.7 percent); The Cairns Post Group (41.7 percent); North Queensland Newspaper Group; Townsville Bulletin; Quest Community newspapers (17 titles in the Brisbane suburbs); Northern Territory: Northern Territory News; Sunday Territorian; Centralian Advocate; The Suburban; Tasmania: The Mercury; The Sunday Tasmanian; Tasmanian Country; Treasure Islander; Derwnet Valley Gazette; Western Australia: Sunday Times
New Zealand Independent Newspapers Limited (49.7 percent) Nine daily, two national Sunday and more than 40 suburban and community newspapers. 14 national magazines and three regional papers in Australia. Also papers in Fiji and Papua
NEW MEDIA In January, 2001, News Corporation effectively closed its News Digital Media, the company's Internet division. The news, sports and entertainment web sites will be absorbed into other divisions. Unconvinced about how to make money from the Internet, it was only in mid-1999 that the company earmarked over $2 billion for online projects. All this has now come to an abrupt halt.
News Corporation's other assets include: The Staples Center (Los Angeles), 40 percent stake in the sports and entertainment complex; Los Angeles Dodgers; Ansett Australia (50 percent); Ansett New Zealand; Ansett International (24 percent); Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services (50 percent); Australian National Rugby League (50 percent). Stakes of 10 percent in various U.K. football clubs, including Manchester City
No Accounting for Murdoch The Economist, March 3, 1999, attempted to answer the question how a company could make A$5.4 billion pre tax profits in the four years to 30 June 1988 and only pay A$325 million worldwide? The answer, or one of them, is to get your tax accounts done in Australia where, according to The Economist, "they are the most lax in the developed economies."
Have A Nice Day? "Our reach is unmatched around the world. We're reaching people from the moment they wake up until they fall asleep. We give them their morning weather and traffic reports through our television outlets around the world. We enlighten and entertain them with such newspapers as The New York Post and The Times (of London) as they have breakfast, or take the train to work. We update their stock prices and give them the world's biggest news stories every day through such news channels as Fox or Sky News ... And when they get home in the evening we're there to entertain them with compelling first-run entertainment on FOX or the day's biggest game on our broadcast, satellite and cable networks. Before going to bed, we give them the latest news, and then they crawl into bed with one of our best-selling novels from HarperCollins." — Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation, 1999 Annual Report
#1: AOL Time Warner
#3: Bertelsmann AG
#5: News Corporation
#2: The Walt Disney Company
#4: Viacom
#6: Vivendi Universal

Vivendi Universal
Chairman and CEO: Jean-Marie Messier
June 14, 2000 Announcement that Vivendi and Seagram in merger talks. It was reported as one more global media merger, creating a $55 billion group, Europe's version of AOL Time Warner.
October, 2000 Mario Monti, EU Competition Commissioner, clears merger. Terms include selling Vivendi's stake in BSkyB and making Universal's library available to rival media groups on fair terms. Company to also sell 55 percent held in ISP AOL France. After Seagram and Canal Plus shareholders agreed on merger, Vivendi Universal began trading on December 11, 2000. A month later shares in the company had fallen by 12 percent. Making Convergence A Reality? "Jean-Marie Messier's strategy is to bring together the film and music output of Universal and Canal Plus, the biggest pay-TV firm in Europe, with over 14 million subscribers; SFR, the second-largest French mobile phone operator); and Vizzavi, a new portal that is a joint venture with Europe's biggest mobile-phone operator, Vodaphone. By doing this he hopes to make convergence a reality." — "The Great Convergence Gamble" in The Economist, December 8, 2000
BOOKS and PUBLISHING Havas is the group within Vivendi dealing with publishing and multimedia. It comprises 60 publishing houses, selling 80 million books a year.
Havas book imprints include: Educational: Nathan; Bordas; Anaya; Atica; Scipione. Reference: Larousse; Harrap; Chambers; Literature: Laffont; Plon; les Presses-Solar-Belfond; Havas Poche; General and trade: Dalloz Dunod; Heath; Vidal; Masson; MIMS.
Havas Press includes: L'Express; Building; L'Expansion; Property Week; Medical Progress; Tempo Medico; Medical Observer; Le Quotidien du Medecin; Staywell; L'Usine Nouvelle
Havas Multimedia includes: Havas Interactive: Coktel; Knowledge Adventure; Larousse Multimedia; Harrap's Multimedia; athan Multimedia;Syracuse Language; Blizzard; Sierra; Havas eContent Publishing; ePocket Havas Numerique; Atmedica; Cadres On Line; 01Net. Havas sell 40 million CD-ROMS a year.
ONLINE VivendiNet Brings together all the group's Internet activities. Vizzavi, a European multi-access portal (in partnership with Vodaphone);, online learning portal;, online games portal; Viventures, venture capital fund with investments in 54 Internet companies in United States and France; @viso, 50/50 joint venture with Softbank for start-ups in continental Europe.
TELEVISION and FILM Canal 14 million subscriptions to pay-TV in 11 European countries. Main companies include CanalSatellite; StudioCanal; Canal ; Spain Telepiu; Canal Digital.
Universal Studios; Universal Pictures; Universal Studios Home Video; Universal Television & Networks Group (4,000 film titles, 24,000 television episodes of such series as "Kojak," "Miami Vice," "Columbo"). Several theme channels, including SciFi (U.K.) Action and Suspense Channel; 13ème Rue; USA Network.
Distribution Cineplex Odeon Corporation (42 percent) Cinema International Corporation (49 percent) United Cinemaa International (49 percent)
MUSIC Universal Music Group had a 22 percent share of the global music market in 1999, and operates in 63 countries. 800,000 titles in its music publishing catalogue. Labels include MCA Records; Polygram; Motown; Decca; Universal Records; Universal Music and Video Distribution; Universal Music International; MCA Music Publishing; Interscope Music Publishing; All Nations Catalogue; Universal Concerts (concert promotion)
TELECOMS Cegetel (Private telecoms operator in France with fixed line, Le 7-4 million customers; and mobile SFR 12 million customers); Vivendi Telecom International, Operations in Spain, Hungary, Monaco, Poland and Egypt
THEME PARKS Universal City (Hollywood, California); Universal's Islands of Adventure (Orlando, Florida); Port Aventura (Barcelona, Spain); Universal Studios Japan (opening spring, 2001)
OTHERS Vivendi Environnement (water and utilities group)
#1: AOL Time Warner
#3: Bertelsmann AG
#5: News Corporation
#2: The Walt Disney Company
#4: Viacom
#6: Vivendi Universal
Sources: 1999 company reports; company Web sites; Columbia Journalism Review "Who Owns What."
Note: Information is inevitably dated. Consult for up-to-date information. Research by Granville Williams Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom
FURTHER READING Leo Bogart, "Commercial Culture: The Media System and the Public Interest," Transaction Publishers, 2000; Robert W. McChesney, "Rich Media, Poor Democracy," The New Press, 2000; Andre Schiffrin, "The Business of Books," Verso, 2000.

Media and US

The Doors Of Perception: Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything

We are the most conditioned, programmed beings the world has ever known. Not only are our thoughts and attitudes continually being shaped and molded; our very awareness of the whole design seems like it is being subtly and inexorably erased.
The doors of our perception are carefully and precisely regulated. Who cares, right?
If everybody believes something, it's probably wrong. We call that Conventional Wisdom.
In America, conventional wisdom that has mass acceptance is usually contrived: somebody paid for it. Examples:
Pharmaceuticals restore health
Vaccination brings immunity
The cure for cancer is just around the corner
When a child is sick, he needs immediate antibiotics
When a child has a fever he needs Tylenol
Hospitals are safe and clean.
America has the best health care in the world.
And many many more
This is a list of illusions, that have cost billions and billions to conjure up. Did you ever wonder why you never see the President speaking publicly unless he is reading? Or why most people in this country think generally the same about most of the above issues?
In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind."
Here Comes The Money
Once the possibilities of applying Freudian psychology to mass media were glimpsed, soon had more corporate clients than he could handle. Global corporations fell all over themselves courting the new Image Makers. There were dozens of goods and services and ideas to be sold to a susceptible public. Over the years, these players have had the money to make their images happen. A few examples:
Philip Morris
Union Carbide
Eli Lilly
tobacco industry
Ciba Geigy
lead industry
Shell Oil
Standard Oil
Procter & Gamble
General Motors
Dow Chemical
General Mills
The PlayersThough world-famous within the PR industry, the companies have names we don't know, and for good reason.
The best PR goes unnoticed.
For decades they have created the opinions that most of us were raised with, on virtually any issue which has the remotest commercial value, including:
pharmaceutical drugs
medicine as a profession
alternative medicine
fluoridation of city water
household cleaning products
global warming
leaded gasoline
cancer research and treatment
pollution of the oceans
forests and lumber
images of celebrities, including damage control
crisis and disaster management
genetically modified foods
food additives; processed foods
dental amalgams
Lesson #1
Bernays learned early on that the most effective way to create credibility for a product or an image was by "independent third-party" endorsement.
For example, if General Motors were to come out and say that global warming is a hoax thought up by some liberal tree-huggers, people would suspect GM's motives, since GM's fortune is made by selling automobiles.
If however some independent research institute with a very credible sounding name like the Global Climate Coalition comes out with a scientific report that says global warming is really a fiction, people begin to get confused and to have doubts about the original issue.
So that's exactly what Bernays did. With a policy inspired by genius, he set up "more institutes and foundations than Rockefeller and Carnegie combined." (Stauber p 45)
Quietly financed by the industries whose products were being evaluated, these "independent" research agencies would churn out "scientific" studies and press materials that could create any image their handlers wanted. Such front groups are given high-sounding names like:
Temperature Research Foundation
Manhattan Institute
International Food Information Council
Center for Produce Quality
Consumer Alert
Tobacco Institute Research Council
The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition
Cato Institute
Air Hygiene Foundation
American Council on Science and Health
Industrial Health Federation
Global Climate Coalition
International Food Information Council
Alliance for Better Foods
Sound pretty legit don't they?
Canned News Releases
As Stauber explains, these organizations and hundreds of others like them are front groups whose sole mission is to advance the image of the global corporations who fund them, like those listed above.
This is accomplished in part by an endless stream of 'press releases' announcing "breakthrough" research to every radio station and newspaper in the country. (Robbins) Many of these canned reports read like straight news, and indeed are purposely molded in the news format.
This saves journalists the trouble of researching the subjects on their own, especially on topics about which they know very little. Entire sections of the release or in the case of video news releases, the whole thing can be just lifted intact, with no editing, given the byline of the reporter or newspaper or TV station - and voilá! Instant news - copy and paste. Written by corporate PR firms.
Does this really happen? Every single day, since the 1920s when the idea of the News Release was first invented by Ivy Lee. (Stauber, p 22) Sometimes as many as half the stories appearing in an issue of the Wall St. Journal are based solely on such PR press releases.. (22)
These types of stories are mixed right in with legitimately researched stories. Unless you have done the research yourself, you won't be able to tell the difference.
The Language Of Spin
As 1920s spin pioneers like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays gained more experience, they began to formulate rules and guidelines for creating public opinion. They learned quickly that mob psychology must focus on emotion, not facts. Since the mob is incapable of rational thought, motivation must be based not on logic but on presentation. Here are some of the axioms of the new science of PR:
technology is a religion unto itself
if people are incapable of rational thought, real democracy is dangerous
important decisions should be left to experts
when reframing issues, stay away from substance; create images
never state a clearly demonstrable lie
Words are very carefully chosen for their emotional impact. Here's an example. A front group called the International Food Information Council handles the public's natural aversion to genetically modified foods.
Trigger words are repeated all through the text. Now in the case of GM foods, the public is instinctively afraid of these experimental new creations which have suddenly popped up on our grocery shelves which are said to have DNA alterations. The IFIC wants to reassure the public of the safety of GM foods, so it avoids words like:
gene gun
Instead, good PR for GM foods contains words like:
natural order
It's basic Freudian/Tony Robbins word association. The fact that GM foods are not hybrids that have been subjected to the slow and careful scientific methods of real crossbreeding doesn't really matter. This is pseudoscience, not science. Form is everything and substance just a passing myth. (Trevanian)
Who do you think funds the International Food Information Council? Take a wild guess. Right - Monsanto, DuPont, Frito-Lay, Coca Cola, Nutrasweet - those in a position to make fortunes from GM foods. (Stauber p 20)Characteristics Of Good Propaganda
As the science of mass control evolved, PR firms developed further guidelines for effective copy. Here are some of the gems:
dehumanize the attacked party by labeling and name calling
speak in glittering generalities using emotionally positive words
when covering something up, don't use plain English; stall for time; distract
get endorsements from celebrities, churches, sports figures, street people - anyone who has no expertise in the subject at hand
the 'plain folks' ruse: us billionaires are just like you
when minimizing outrage, don't say anything memorable, point out the benefits of what just happened, and avoid moral issues
Keep this list. Start watching for these techniques. Not hard to find - look at today's paper or tonight's TV news. See what they're doing; these guys are good!
There is a very dangerous phenomenon that seems to be occurring in the United States of America; something that I refer to as "the dumbing-down of the American mind," a nearly willful tendency for Americans to forgo reality in favor of believing what they want to believe...
...This link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country's security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.
...There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.
But today other voices are heard in the land--voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the greatest single threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.
...Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.
...I have spoken of strength largely in terms of the deterrence and resistance of aggression and attack. But, in today's world, freedom can be lost without a shot being fired, by ballots as well as bullets. The success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in the world as well as our missiles--on a clearer recognition of the virtues of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny.
...Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live. And only an America which is growing and prospering economically can sustain the worldwide defenses of freedom, while demonstrating to all concerned the opportunities of our system and society.
...That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions--it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations--it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We in this country, in this generation, are--by destiny rather than choice--the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."
Americans Don't Know They are Eating Genetically Modified Food

Only 43% of people in the US know that some of the food they are purchasing and eating is genetically modified (GM), according to a new survey. Additionally nearly one of four people incorrectly believes that such food is not being sold in the US.
The survey was conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), an industry group funded by food, beverage and agricultural industries.
Currently, the use of genetically modified food is a subject of enormous global controversy. Consumer and environmental groups have demanded that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) follow the lead of the European Union, Japan and other nations by requiring labels on GM foods so consumers know what they are buying. The US government claims that such mandatory food labels are unnecessary because genetically modified food "poses no inherent safety risk".
Conductors of the industry sponsored phone survey never used the term "genetically modified", preferring the nicer sounding "foods produced through biotechnology".
Additionally, "87% of consumers agreed that education through toll-free numbers, brochures, and Web sites would provide better sources of information than food labels," one of the surveyors noted.
'Ben Bagdikian has written the first great media book of the twenty-first century. The New Media Monopoly will provide a roadmap to understanding how we got here and where we need to go to make matters better.' -Robert McChesney, author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy "No book on the media has proved as influential to our understanding of the dangers of corporate consolidation to democracy and the marketplace of ideas; this new edition builds on those works and surpasses them." -Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media? Praise for the First Edition of The Media Monopoly: "A groundbreaking work that charts a historical shift in the orientation of the majority of America's communications media-further away from the needs of the individual and closer to those of big business." -Bruce Manuel, Christian Science Monitor Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ben H. Bagdikian is dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. His other books include Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession. Book DescriptionWhen the first edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 1983, critics called Ben Bagdikian's warnings about the chilling effects of corporate ownership and mass advertising on the nation's news "alarmist." Since then, the number of corporations controlling most of America's daily newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, book publishers, and movie companies has dwindled from fifty to ten to five.

Have the Corporations Already Grabbed Control of New Life Forms?

On September 22, 1976, President Ford sent a memorandum to the heads of all major federal departments and agencies. Although it received no attention at the time, the President's memo may be remembered years from now as the keynote to one of the most significant developments of the 20th century.
The memo concerned the formation of a new Interagency Committee of the federal government. Its mission: "To review federal policy o the conduct of research involving the creation of new forms of life."
That Interagency Committee has since convened at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, on November 4 and November 23, for a total of five hours and 30 minutes. There were no TV crews present, no photographer to shoot pictures of the proceedings for the record book. UPI and AP didn't even list the meeting on their daily calendars of important events to cover in Washington. Both sessions were conducted behind closed doors.
With these meetings, just three years after molecular biologists had succeeded in separating and recombining the DNA molecules that carry the genetic code for all living beings, unlocking for the first time the secret of creating life itself, the United States officially entered the Organic Age.
Up to now, human beings have been engaged in a constant battle against the elements. We have used our wits to harness the resources of the external world for our own survival. Ours was a finite reality. At best, we could manipulate and exploit parts of our universe for our own ends; at worst, we could destroy those parts of the outside environment that threatened our well-being.
In short, our limits were established by what already existed. Within the past 30 years we have approached the outer limits of that finite world of matter and energy with the splitting of the atom, our entry into the Nuclear Age.
Yet now, even as we still grapple with the nuclear demon, a new phenomenon has emerged, having to do with the world of life itself. With the unlocking of the secrets of DNA, we will eventually be able to change the cellular structure of living beings and to create entirely new species. Biologists are already doing it with microorganisms. The Nuclear Age was the age of the physicist; the Organic Age is the age of the biologist.
At this moment, microbiologists are at work in more than 180 separate laboratories across the country, busily spending more than 20 million dollars in government grants in pursuit of the creation of new forms of life. They are experimenting with so-called recombinant DNA.
By now most newspaper readers have heard of the controversy surrounding DNA research at universities. But, sheltered from the glare of publicity that bathes every new debate at Harvard or Stanford, something much more ominous is happening.
Today seven major drug companies are engaged in, or about to begin, recombinant-DNA research. The companies will soon apply for patents on the new forms of life they are developing. In time this research will translate into an unparalleled commercial bonanza for the pharmaceutical, chemical and agricultural companies as they introduce literally dozens of new-life-form products into the market place.
General Electric is already out in front with the announcement that it has applied for a patent on a tiny microorganism that can eat up oil spills.
While the commercial prospects for this new technology have whetted corporate appetites, the potential dangers in its further development and application-although some of them are still years off-pose perhaps the single greatest challenge to life that humankind has ever faced.
That challenge is made more awesome by the fact that virtually any amateur biologist can obtain the enzymes necessary to experiment with new life forms. Miles Laboratory, which markets the enzymes, admits that most of its enzymes sales are done through the mail, and that there are no "guarantees of what the customer will do" once that person receives the biological materials.
How does one even begin to look at a technology that could eventually lead to the creation of new plants, animals and even the alteration of the human species?
And then there is a more immediate question before us as we enter the Organic Age: should our present corporate system be used as the developing and marketing process when life itself is the product?
Recombinant DNA is a recently developed technique that recombines DNA segments (the basic material determining the hereditary characteristics of all life) from two different organisms.
Scientists became able to do this when they found that DNA segments had "sticky" ends that, under proper laboratory conditions, could be fastened to another organism's DNA segments. Thus is formed the genetic basis for new living and multiplying organisms that do not exist in the natural evolutionary order.
Although most scientists agree that recombinant DNA is one of the most important scientific breakthroughs of modern history, they violently disagree as to whether the potential benefits of even the most restricted experimentation outweigh the grave potential dangers to human life and the environment.
Paul Berg, a prominent recombinant-DNA researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine, believes experimentation in recombinants could result in the creation of major new food crops that can obtain nitrogen from the atmosphere rather than from fertilizer; a new form of medicine, gene therapy, to treat crippling genetic diseases; and such things as cheap and efficient production of vitamins, antibiotics and hormones.
On the other hand, scientists like Liebe Cavalieri of the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research argue for a complete moratorium on recombinant-DNA research until the long-range implications are fully discussed.
Cavalieri points out that such research "involves many unknown factors beyond the control of the scientist." According to Cavalieri, "it is necessary to create vast numbers of cells with unknown genetic alterations in order to obtain a cell containing a specific recombinant DNA."
He continues: "The probability of creating a dangerous genetic agent in the process is real, and there is no way to test for the danger. The scientist does not know what he has done until he has analyzed the newly created cell-at which point it may be too late."
At that point, science fiction's most horrible scenarios become fact.
Cavalieri and his colleagues are deeply concerned over the possibility that a new Andromeda-type virus, for which there is no known immunization, might accidentally be developed in a laboratory somewhere and spread a deadly epidemic across the planet, killing hundreds of millions of people.
They also fear that a new, highly resistant plant might be developed that could wipe out all other vegetation and animal life in its path. Dr. Robert Sinsheimer, who chairs the Biology Division of the California Institute of Technology, warns that "the invention and introduction of new self-reproducing living forms may well be irreversible." Sinsheimer asks: "How do we prevent grievous missteps, inherently untraceable?"
Sinsheimer got the first tentative answer to his question last summer when the City Council of Cambridge, Massachusetts, voted to prohibit work on recombinant DNA at Harvard and MIT pending further public investigation. This unparalleled public restriction of scientific research focused, for the first time, the attention of the national media on the question of the creation of new life forms.
But even as scientists, public-interest groups, social commentators and the media continue to rehash the implications of the Cambridge incident, another development, almost totally ignored in the press, may be far more significant than any event that has taken place in academia: the entry into the field of DNA research of the private corporation.
On September 23, 1976, a little-noticed Washington Post story reported: "US health officials acknowledged that the government does not know what companies are trying to create revolutionary new forms of life or the whereabouts of their laboratories."
Dr. Bernard Talbot of the Office of the Director of NIH told us that "as of now, there is no federal agency that is looking at research being done by private industry in recombinant DNA.... We have no registry [of companies involved in this field]."
It is probably true that NIH and other federal agencies are unaware of the specific nature of the research going on in private industry. However, governmental authorities do know what companies are involved in this research and where their plants are located, but they have not been willing to make this information public.
At present, seven major pharmaceutical companies are now engaged in or about to be engaged in secret recombinant-DNA research. Nine other corporations involved in drugs, chemicals and agricultural products are now looking into the potential application of recombinant DNA.
They are: Cetus Corporation, CIBA-Geigy Corporation, DuPont, Dow, W.R. Grace & Company, Monsanto, French Laboratories, Wyeth Laboratories and Searle Laboratories.
Corporations in DNA Research
Location of Laboratory
State of Research
Miles Laboratories(Dr. Robert Erickson, Dept. of Science Information and Communication Services)
Rochester, NY, and South Bend, IN (Research under contract to universities)
Eli Lilly & Company(Dr. Cornelius W. Pettinga, Executive Vice President)
Indianapolis, IN
Hoffman-LaRoche(Dr. Sidney Udenfriend, Director, Roche Institute)
Nutley, NJ
The Upjohn Company(Dr. Joe Grady, Section Head, Infectious Diseases)
Kalamazoo, MI
Merck, Sharpe & Dohme Research Laboratories(Dr. Jerome Birnbaum, Executive Director, Basic Biological Sciences)
Rathway, NJ
Tooling up
Pfizer, Inc.(Dr. John DeZeeuew, Research Scientist)
Groton, CT
Tooling up
Abbott Laboratories(Dr. Lacy Overby, Director, Experimental Biology)
North Chicago, IL
Tooling up
The almost airtight secrecy surrounding this particular research, says Medical World News, is "reminiscent of the atmosphere surrounding biological-warfare research a few years ago."
Tom Craig, the public-relations representative for Abbott, said that his firm has no intention of informing the general public about Abbott's activities, "because it's often difficult to obtain an understanding of what is being done. It creates more alarm than is justified.
At Upjohn, public relations chief Joe Haywood even tried, at first, to deny that the firm had any role in recombinant-DNA research. Only when confronted with hard evidence did he finally admit to Upjohn's involvement.
At Roche Institute, an assistant to the director who identified himself as Dr. Bartle refused any comment when asked when the new maximum-control facilities would be operational and how many researchers would be involved. Similar responses were invoked right down the line in interview after interview with various company officials across the country.
It's not surprising, then, that a check with public officials in Rochester, Kalamazoo, South Bend, and Nutley revealed that none were aware of secret research into recombinant DNA going on in laboratories in their communities.
In Kalamazoo, Michigan, Mayor Francis Hamilton pointed out that, while the Upjohn laboratory was "within three blocks of where I'm sitting," he had not been informed by the company that it was involved in recombinant-DNA research.
In New Jersey, Dennis Helms, in the Attorney General's office (who is already in charge of an investigation into recombinant DNA in his state), was asked if he knew of any firms doing any P-4 level recombinant-DNA research. ("P-4" refers to maximum-risk research controls.)
Helms said it was his understanding from people in the industry that NIH, in Bethesda, Maryland, has the only P-4 facility in the country. Helms was then asked if the Hoffman-LaRoche Company had informed the Attorney General's office that they were constructing a P-4 facility in Nutley, New Jersey. The answer was no.
Even though NIH (the agency responsible for overseeing the Interagency Committee) continues to assert that it has no "official" knowledge of research going on in the private sector, its director, Dr. Donald Frederickson, initiated a meeting nine months ago (on June 2, 1976) with representatives of 20 US corporations to ascertain their interests and needs regarding research into recombinant DNA.
At a meeting held at NIH headquarters on December 3, 1976, Frederickson himself said:
"It is essential there be a way the industrial technology of this country can take advantage of this."
This cozy behind-the-scenes relationship between industry and government officials isn't hard to understand once one looks into the backgrounds of the officials involved.
A number of the consultants to or members of the NIH group that drew up the government's regulatory guidelines on DNA research have industry ties-among them Dr. Ernest Jaworski of the Monsanto Company and Dr. Louis G. Nickell of W.R. Grace & Company.
More important still, of the 15 members of the key Interagency Committee for whom we were able to obtain background biographies, seven had previously been employed with major US corporations. Two of these had served with major pharmaceutical companies now involved in recombinant-DNA work.
Oswald Ganley, the State Department representative to the committee, was previously employed as Assistant Director of International Relations at Merck, Sharpe and Dohme Laboratories; and Department of Transportation representative William D. Owens was at one time a director of a subsidiary of the Searle Corporation.

This industry-weighted committee on recombinant DNA was scheduled to present its recommendations on the "creation of new life forms" to the President in mid-January, although it may be weeks or months before the report's contents are made public. The report is expected to cover several major items:
How Will Dangers Be Contained?
When the federal government started doing research some years ago on infectious diseases afflicting cattle and other animals, it set up an Animal Disease Center on an uninhabited island off the easternmost tip of Long Island.
The lab is windowless. A barbed-wire fence surrounds the entire island. Under the fence, three feet of buried concrete prevent rodents and insects from burrowing through to the facility.
Every one of the Center's workers gets an elaborate security check by the FBI before being allowed access to the Center. Employees wear sterilized garments and work under air pressure lower than outside, and all are required to shower between each experiment. Security guards protect the premises from unauthorized trespassers.
Researchers and government officials are taking every precaution possible to make sure no germs that could infect American farm animals escape the island.
By contrast, NIH's own maximum-security DNA-research facility is a mobile trailer parked off a side street outside the agency's office in Bethesda, Maryland, a residential suburb of Washington. It is protected only by a simple seven-foot cyclone fence. According to NIH officials, the mobile trailer is not yet operational because they are still fixing its leaky roof.
Some secretaries and other office workers at NIH are quite frightened about the trailer parked outside their offices. One of them called the environmental organization Friends of the Earth a few weeks ago, pleading for help. "The employees are all talking about this P-4 trailer and we're scared to death," she said. "Can you do something? Anything."
The set of guidelines the government has drawn up for recombinant-DNA research, although elaborate, are nowhere near so tight as the security precautions at the Animal Disease Center. True, there are the so-called physical-containment provisions, requiring laboratory air to be kept under low pressure, researchers to take showers, and so forth. There are also a series of biological-containment requirements, which mandate that certain experiments be done with weakened strains of bacteria that theoretically could not survive outside the laboratory.
Nonetheless, these labs are usually located in populated areas, and the government does not have the staff to police them and make sure the physical- and biological-containment requirements are met.
Most recombinant-DNA experiments are done with E. coli bacteria, which exists in the intestinal tracts of all human beings. The chief danger involved here is that a research accident could produce a particularly virulent virus that causes a disease for which there is no immunization.
A lab technician who accidentally breathed or swallowed a few of its particles could then begin rapidly spreading the virus to others-perhaps eventually to a whole population.
"Only one accident is needed," biologist Cavalieri says, "to endanger the future of mankind."
Sinsheimer of Cal Tech believes that the government guidelines are insufficient. In a letter to NIH this year he says, "I cannot believe that under these proposed guidelines the organisms can be contained... The organisms will inevitably escape and they will enter into the various ecological niches known to be inhabited by E. coli." The consequences, Sinsheimer says, "are highly predictable and likely highly dangerous."
Who Will Regulate the New Life Forms?
The most astonishing thing about commercial recombinant-DNA research today is that nobody knows which government agencies have the authority to regulate it.
Perhaps the Center for Disease Control, which oversees the interstate shipments of hazardous biological agents; perhaps the Food and Drug Administration, when companies begin using recombinant-DNA techniques to create drugs or hormones for human use; perhaps the Patent Office, when companies apply for patents on these products; perhaps the Environmental Protection Agency, under the new Toxic Substances Control Act.
Then of course there's the National Institutes of Health, which has drawn up the research guidelines on the subject but which has no power to enforce them.
Industry loves this situation, of course. The confusing welter of bureaucracies makes it much easier for the corporations to go ahead and do what they want.
The gaps are huge.
When Dr. Robert Elder of the FDA was asked if his agency would be informed if, for example, test animals in a commercial lab began mysteriously dying from unknown diseases after being injected with a new recombinant-DNA-type drug, he said that there would be "no requirement that [the company] inform us," and that he knew of no other agencies that would be privy to such information.
Given vast loopholes like this, it is still more remarkable to learn, as we go to press, that a significant faction of the Interagency Committee is urging that federal guidelines on recombinant-DNA research be made voluntary and that the industry be left to police itself. In the unlikely event that the committee takes a tougher stance and recommends, for instance, the creation of a new super-agency with enough money and muscle to closely police all DNA research, look for the industry to resist.
There will be cries that the government is interfering with free scientific inquiry; the drug companies will fight back with all the lobbying power at their command. If the committee compromises and urges a distribution of regulatory authority among various agencies, government regulation may remain almost as diffuse and ineffective as it is now.
Who Will Own and Profit from New Life Forms?
Not a single person on the government's Interagency Committee we interviewed even questioned the right of commercial firms to patent processes for creating new forms of life. Dr. Delbert S. Barth, the Environmental Protection Agency representative to the Interagency Committee, summed up the prevailing sentiment of his fellow committee members on the question: "This is a moral and ethical question-and I don't have a strong opinion."
And because the members of this group either are pro-business or do not have a strong opinion on the moral or ethical questions involved, they will in all likelihood recommend that private corporations like Miles, Upjohn and Abbott be entrusted with the authority to create and market new forms of life, for profit.
The only question regarding commercial patents being addressed by the committee is a technical one: how to protect the secrecy of research going on in commercial labs so that competitors will not steal trade secrets before the firm can patent a new life-form process.
Under the existing NIH guidelines covering university DNA research, scientists must disclose all their plans in advance. (Two universities-Stanford and the University of California-have applied for patents on their DNA-recombination processes.) Industry leaders say that these provisions of the guidelines would be unacceptable because, in the words of Dr. Jerome Birnbaum, director of Merck, Sharpe and Dohme Laboratories, "if you disclose your research plans, you lose the right to a patent."
The Interagency Committee is expected to go along with the industry's demands to keep its research secret by establishing some kind of provision whereby only a select few government officials will be privy to the specific nature of the research going on in the corporate laboratories. An awesome thought, since it's only a matter of time before molecular biologists are able to create new plant and animal forms or alter the genetic characteristics of the human species.
A few researchers-despite the opposition of most scientists-are already talking about just that. One of them is Dr. James Bonner, Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology, who has written: "We can control the [genetic] changes to produce better individuals.
"This is even more important now that we see limitations being placed on the number of children that may be born into the world. There is a moral obligation to see that these children are free of genetic defects, and we may even have to proceed to the logical conclusion that these children should be provided with the best genetic material we can obtain. Man has done this with all of his domestic animals and plants. It seems likely that he will do it also with himself."
Dr. Bonner, whose words on the subject appear in a book published by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, goes on to say: "The logical outcome of activities in modifying the genetic make-up of man is to reach the stage where couples will want their children to have the best possible genes.
Sexual procreation will be virtually ended.
One suggestion has been to remove genetic material from each individual immediately after birth and then promptly sterilize that individual. During the individual's lifetime, record would be kept of accomplishments and characteristics.
After the individual's death, a committee decides if the accomplishments are worthy of procreation into other individuals. If so, genetic material would be removed from the depository and stimulated to clone a new individual. If the committee decides the genetic material is unworthy of procreation it is destroyed... The question is indeed not a moral one but a temporal one-when do we start?"
Up to now, recombinant-DNA research has been seen as largely a health and safety question. With the possibility of hazardous viruses escaping from labs, it is indeed. But even this question is bound to seem secondary as the broader implications of recombinant DNA begin to be understood by the general public.
When America begins to ask itself whether individual scientists and a handful of government bureaucrats and private companies have the right to rearrange the evolutionary order and create new forms of life, the recombinant-DNA question will emerge as a focus of national attention.
Mayor Peter Memeth of South Bend, Indiana, one city in which recombinant-DNA research is going on, touches a central nerve when he says, "if they had all that trouble in Tennessee with the apes, then they haven't seen anything yet, I guess."
Considering the fury that engulfed the Scopes trial, the issue of artificially creating and controlling new life forms may well reach very deep. The controversy it raises will make the debate over abortion seem a mere brush fire by comparison.
Dr. Harry Hollis, Director of the Committee on Family and Special Moral Concerns of the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a spokesperson for President Carter's own denomination, says:
"I feel very strongly that Huxley's warnings have a bearing for us today. After Dachau and Watergate, we shouldn't take lightly what human beings are capable of inflicting on each other. This is not just science fiction. Genetic engineering for the worst of reasons is a possibility in this world in which we live."
The issue of who has the authority to develop and produce new forms of life is perhaps the single most important question any society has ever had to grapple with.
With the dawn of the Organic Age upon us, there is no longer any question of going back. The question now is how we proceed, and how we prevent ourselves from embarking on an inexorable corporate course toward Huxley's Brave New World.
Mother Jones
Related Articles:
GMO Crops Are an Accident Waiting To Happen
Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods
Genetically Modified Crops Worry Some Scientists
Genetically Altered Plants Might Alter You
Americans Don't Know They are Eating Genetically Modified Food
Genetically Modified Genes Jump the "Species Barrier

Media Treason 101 explained, Reality vs your TV

In recent times, the American media has been plagued with all sorts of problems including, sliding profits, scandals about manipulation, plagiarism, and propaganda, falling readership in the press, “dumbing down”, and so on.
Media omissions, distortion, inaccuracy and bias in the US is something acknowledged by many outside the USA, and is slowly realized more and more inside the US. However, due to those very same omissions, distortion, inaccuracy and bias in the US mainstream media, it is difficult for the average American citizen to obtain an open, objective view of many of the issues that involve the United States (and since the United States is the largest economic and military power in the world, they are naturally involved in many issues!).
From a political angle, for a nation to remain strong, it has historically needed the support of its people, including those who are not in power and those who are exploited. A level of conformity is also required, even if it is quite loose, to not only allow people to live together in society, but also, for power holders, to more predictably deal with its citizens.

“One reads about the world’s desire for American leadership only in the United States”, one anonymous well-placed British diplomat recently observed, “Everywhere else one reads about American arrogance and unilateralism.”
— Jonathan Power, America is in Danger of Alienating the World, March 3, 1999
The quote above also summarizes how America is viewed in the international community and how some of their actions are portrayed in the United States. Yet, the international community, often for very valid reasons, sees America’s actions differently.
The government of, by and for the people is now comprised of leaches flourishing in rotten swamps, prostitutes roaming bordellos masquerading as palaces of governance and fecal matter prospering in the nation’s sewers. Corporations and their minions we help elect dominate and transform society, leading us into the black holes they easily maneuver us into. We are being used and abused, yet with the dumbing down of America easily controlled beings we have turned into, comatose to the danger we have embraced and oblivious to the strings attached to our appendages.

Something eerie seems to have engulfed us in the land of the free and the home of the brave. From the land where all men are created equal has equality disappeared; from a nation espousing freedom has freedom been eviscerated. Once brave dissenters and seekers of accountability have gone missing, allowing free reign to those endowed with power. Free-thinking and analytical minds are as rare as the great apes humanity is making extinct. Rare is the citizen not captive to fear, insecurity and intimidation. The ability to question authority or to seek accountability has collapsed along with the towers of the World Trade Center. A world existing beyond the borders and shores of America, containing six billion fellow humans, has been forgotten and disregarded as ignorance to cultures, nations, beliefs and ethnicities is conditioned into our minds practically from birth.

Something is amiss in a nation where one would expect the plenitudes of Empire to trickle down into every man, woman and child. To bestow upon its citizens the tools needed to seek true freedom of thought and a path towards enlightenment would be expected of an American utopia that is more often preached rather than practiced. Yet the question arises as to the cause of why hundreds of millions continue to fall downwards into empty wells of promises unkept instead of reaching for the zenith of those fulfilled.

What mechanisms left to erode the citizenry of free thought and freedom of mind have been allowed to linger in American society, and how have they been allowed to remain when the reality of what has occurred continues to degrade the Pax Americana from the inside out?

Conditioned Producers and Consumers

Spawned from the assembly line called human procreation we open our eyes to a world ready to transform our life energies into expendable disseminators of the patterns of production and consumption that will mark our time on Earth, in essence becoming the reason for our existence. To the system called capitalism we become nothing more than a number which will in time be exploited to the full extent envisaged by man. We are given social security numbers, digits that will follow us through the journey from newborn to cadaver. To the system we are this number, easily traceable, easily conditioned.

Television begins to inculcate us with rampant bombardments of advertisements, thereby beginning to condition the young, innocent mind to a life trained for consumption. The foods we eat and the products we buy begin establishing the tastes we will forever enjoy. Associations of pleasure, ingrained tastes and smells, nostalgia of fantasy and perfection enter the young brain. It is because of this that corporations want to hook us from the first moments of infancy so loyal lifelong consumers we become.

To the innocent and pure mind television thus becomes the window to a world that is neither real nor complicated. The virgin brain sees in the shows it is blitzkrieged with a fiction that in reality does not exist. It sees perfection, fantasy, beauty, consumption and loyal acquiescence, and, with the passage of time, seeks to emulate this world in a false belief that it can be attained. Ingrained in this principle is the belief, channeled by corporations, that to achieve what can never be a person must consume and produce, be obedient to authority, friendly to her corporate masters and eager to embrace what society dictates. The dumbing down of America thus begins.

As television becomes parent, teacher, role model, babysitter and entertainer to the child, given the abandonment of historical parental roles thanks to society’s pressure to produce and consume, everything shown becomes everything learned, thus habituating a child to the role corporations have decided to bestow onto him. When everything seen on the screen is created, controlled, manipulated and disseminated by the corporate world the child’s perception of what reality encompasses will indeed also conform to the corporate vision. After image after image, fantasy after fantasy, conditioning after conditioning, the young human mind has no choice but to accept the commands of the brainwashing taking place right in front of his or her baby eyes.

It follows that children learn every behavior from their parents as well. From the very beginning entrenched behaviors to produce and consume become ingrained in the young brain. The long hours at work, the short amount of time spent with the child, the abandonment of parental roles and supervision, the incessant drive for consumption, the wasting of money and pursuit of material possessions, the behaviors of stress, depression, unhappiness, anger and frustration are all absorbed by a mind that in infancy acts like a sponge, learning human society from those closest to its environment, whether it is family or television.

In adulthood, these same behaviors will be manifested, thereby helping fulfill the role of producer and consumer the corporate world has reserved for yet one more human energy sprouting from the conveyor belt of procreation. Thanks to the television and parental subservience to the same system of their youth, one’s progeny will become the bogged down producer of the same products he or she will later voraciously and seemingly without conscious consume.

The vicious circle that is the virus of American capitalism infects seemingly from birth, inoculating children to the vices of exploitation from which they will forever derive their existence. It is at the height of innocence that the forces of capitalism attack, attaching themselves in the depths of a human brain, dissolving precepts not in tune with its compulsive and exploitive self. Once attached the virus is not easily displaced, thereby becoming personality as well as behavior. From the cradle to the grave, destiny in today’s America is guided by the corporate world and its sinister virus, helping not its host but its disseminator, unleashing wave after wave of unhappy and exploited producer and easily conditioned and controlled consumer.

Consequences of a Controlled Populace

Education in the United States has become an exercise in government and corporate brainwashing, used to achieve a citizenry devoid of analytical and free-thinking minds. The purpose, quite simply, is to retain the class warfare structure that has marked American society for decades. Education has become a tool used to make the wealthy richer and the poor more indigent. It is now a mechanism to separate the have nots from the haves, the higher castes from the untouchables. As it stands today, though certainly being eviscerated more and more daily, education is making of the masses impotent creatures of indifference, happily droned into complacency and deprived of a knowledge that once served to curtail the power of the elite that run the nation.

The result is the age of corporatism, the age of unfettered and unaccountable power and the control of the masses through media manipulation, societal fabrication and education eradication. As the world slowly passes through the sands of time the people of the United States, those living inside what has become a most hated geopolitical entity, are seeing the result of being dumbed down and of letting incompetents, warmongers, profiteers and deranged zealots run unfettered and unopposed, ransacking the globe, its people and land in the process.

Today we see the ramifications of a citizenry that has allowed itself to be made ignorant through its submission to those in power whose purposeful malfeasance continues to destroy the very essence of knowledge that grants freedom to enslaved minds. Iraq and the coming disaster in the Middle East are a consequence to the decimation of education in the United States. George W. Bush is a consequence of the dumbing down of America, to which he owes his very position perched like the vulture he is atop the dying tree of America that has been contaminated by his inept and infected claws smeared in human blood.

Those in power have succeeded in making the masses a herd of sheep following the shepherd straight into the slaughterhouse, unaware of the destiny that awaits them nor of their role in the furthering of death, destruction and violence now gripping the world. Like a deer caught in headlights, the masses are hypnotized, unable to see beyond the sight of their own meeting with a fate conditioned into our brains from infancy that is destroying freedom, knowledge and our ability to question the evils being done in our name. America today and the world tomorrow are a manifestation of this truth.

Ignorance has replaced knowledge, resulting in power running amok, incapable of being restrained, mutating and growing, feeding off our inability to escape the debacle currently gripping our collective mind.

Brainwash Education

The education system in America has been carefully eroded over the course of time, altered in such a way as to make creative and curious children barren and submissive adults indifferent to the world around them. The system now in place begins robbing a child’s ability to think for himself or herself from the very start of the education process. The class structure itself eliminates individuality, personality and energetic ability, as one teacher must educate many students competing for attention. It is here when talents that need to be discovered get ambushed instead. Yet with a class structure that has endured for decades, the child must become part of the whole, learning from books laced with government and/or corporate propaganda.

In many school districts, mostly poor ones strapped for cash, books can be dozens of years old, lacking modern thought or progress. Many books are tools created by entities with special interests that have as a purpose the teaching of their ideology or the furthering of their goals. The absurd teaching of creationism is one such example. Many corporations now create and donate books to school districts that contain references and examples to their brand names and product descriptions. Even in school children cannot escape the growing omnipresence of the corporate Leviathan which thirsts to program the innocent the way it sees fit.

Indeed, the young mind is needlessly brainwashed with a history of a nation that in many instances contradicts and even subverts the true historical reality of the United States. Only the ‘good’ that America has fostered during its rapid and short rise is taught, without ever dealing with the requisite bad inherent in an Empire that has laid claim to land and man during years of brutal conquest, both militarily and economically. Glossing over national heroes, mythifying them into deities and transforming them into perfect human beings is the role of the school book, brainwashing the young to a fictional perfection when reality begs to differ. Yet humanity must be balanced and its reality etched in stone so that future generations learn the human condition as well as its civilization.

The genocide of indigenous Americans is whitewashed; the slavery of blacks that lasted hundreds of years, oftentimes suffering barbaric treatment at the hands of their white masters is easily covered up in a few paragraphs, deceiving readers to the true horrors their ancestors committed or suffered. The subservient role women were placed under for centuries is hardly mentioned, and the great civil rights movement that helped change history for the better never gets the coverage it deserves.

The war crimes and crimes against humanity America has perpetrated worldwide to millions of anonymous people under the rubric of freedom and democracy is never mentioned, rather, they are sugarcoated and glamorized, serving as examples of America’s ‘great history.’ Also, the corrosive and damaging effects of American capitalism disguised as democracy that has condemned untold millions to the dustbins of history is manipulated to look like a chivalrous attempt to save lives and free nations.

Brainwashing unquestioned patriotism into our young one’s minds government controlled education furthers the squashing of dissent and the questioning of our sovereign’s motives. We are conditioned that our elected leaders are gods walking among men, to be trusted and never to be questioned. Their intentions are always noble, their reasoning pure. Dissent and debate, protest and curiosity are seen not as patriotic manifestations of an informed citizenry but rather as an alien afterthought not worthy of nationalistic pride.

The ingraining of loyalty to flag and country, even when committing evil worldwide, is to be allowed to continue, eventually becoming the means by which the state is allowed to declare war, economic genocide and market colonialism, without so much as a whisper from its constituency. The elite therefore bask in the glow of the radiant beam called patriotic fervor, indoctrinated from childhood, lasting until death.

Preaching the noble deeds yet hiding or disguising the evil ingrained in empire building serves only to alter history and manipulate the young, eroding our future in the process. To understand humanity in past, present and future an entire history must be taught, both good and bad, thereby creating in our future citizens the ability to grow wise to the mistakes of times past in order to comprehend the ever-changing and oftentimes complex conditions of the present. To not teach the truth of what has come before is to leave behind the keys to unlocking the door of the human condition, essentially condemning our children into repeating the errors that continue to bear witness to unnecessary suffering, death, destruction, violence and war.

The fruits of our past mistakes can be seen in our history; the essence of the human condition lies written for all to see. American education serves no purpose if the result of its actions leads to a replay of years gone by; it becomes an exercise in futility when our future repeats the blunders of their ancestors and the follies of those who once led.

Brainwash education is the means to an end, a device that entraps rather than make free. It is a valuable tool to exert hegemony over the populace. When begun from the first years of youth, becoming attached and most difficult to extract, brainwashing to suit the state and the elite’s goals is a dangerous device. When combined with the 9/11’s of history, it takes on a life of its own, becoming a Molotov cocktail ready to explode in seething rage. The system would not have it any other way.