HIGHTOWER: Tailoring the Law to Fit the Criminal

If you're a person and you violate the law, you go to prison. But if you're a corporation and you violate the law, you go to Washington.

Because of the merger craze that's sweeping corporate America, the mega-powerful giants that emerge are finding themselves in violation of various anti-monopoly laws. So, do their CEOs go to jail? No, no Pollyanna, they go to Washington with their lobbyists and their campaign contributions, saying: "Change the law." The latest examples of this phenomena of tailoring the law to fit the criminal comes to us from the media industry.

The entertainment giant, Viacom, for example, has gobbled up the CBS television network. However, Viacom also owns the UPN television network, and the law says no corporation can own two national TV networks. To complete its takeover of CBS, Viacom is faced with the legal necessity of selling-off UPN. Likewise, the Tribune Company, owner of the Chicago Tribune and various television stations around the country, has taken over the Times-Mirror Company, owner of the Los Angeles Times and other media properties. This merger, however crashes into the legal wall that says a company cannot own both a television station and a newspaper in the same city. The merged corporation faces the legal necessity of selling either papers or TV stations in Los Angeles, New York, and Hartford.

But, wait! Suddenly, out of the blue, the FCC, supposedly the consumer's media watchdog, has rushed to the rescue of Viacom and the Tribune company. The agency says that, after heavy lobbying from the industry, it will simply change the law, letting these two giants have their monopolistic cake and eat it, too!

This is Jim Hightower saying ... We're told this is necessary to help the corporate media "realize economic efficiencies." So why not let common thieves rewrite burglary laws to help them realize economic efficiencies? If thieves had lobbyists, they probably could.

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