The New York Times has an editorial calling on the federal government to impose all kinds of conditions before approving the proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. Says the Times: "The issue is that the merged company would own both a major producer of TV and movies and the dominant distributor of TV and movies in big media markets. It would have about a quarter of the multichannel market and about a fifth of broadband subscribers." A fifth of broadband subscribers! Back in 2001, AOL had 33% of Internet subscribers, and Earthlink had 7%, and we know how that turned out. It's quite possible that 4G mobile broadband delivered by cellular or satellite providers will be to Comcast's cable network what cable was to AOL and Earthlink's dial-up networks.
The Times frets: "What if the combined company limited access to its shows online to subscribers of its broadband service or cable packages? Or if it refused to provide NBC Universal content to rival online services?"
What if the New York Times limited access to its news and opinion columnists to subscribers of its print or Web publications? Oh — wait — that's what the Times has announced it is planning to do! And what if the New York Times refused to provide its content to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, or the Washington Post for them to reprint? Oh — wait — the New York Times doesn't provide its content to its competitors, either.
It's hard to see what principles are at play in the Times editorial other than a reflexive desire for government intervention.