Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The big get big-big-bigger. NBC is owned by the megacorporation General Electric. It's a business partner with Microsoft. It's a content partner with the Washington Post Company.

Obviously, the problem with NBC is that it's just not big enough.

Today the morning papers report that Vivendi Universal and General Electric are pursuing merger talks that would create -- as the Washington Post's Frank Ahrens reports -- "a media giant that would combine the top-rated NBC television network, Universal Pictures movie studio and several prominent cable channels."

The Wall Street Journal's coverage includes a chart, labeled "Fast Forward," that gives a good breakdown of who owns what, as well as what the combined company, NBC Universal, would look like.

My favorite, though, is a quickie update posted yesterday at the Motley Fool, the damn-the-bubble-full-speed-ahead website that hasn't been heard from much in the '00s. "Everybody has a chance to win here," enthuses the Fool. Well, everyone except those of us who are concerned about the effects of media concentration in a democratic society.

The most demented aspect of this merger-in-the-making is that, from NBC's and Vivendi's point of view, it's probably absolutely necessary, given the lead that behemoths such as AOL Time Warner and Disney/ABC have.

And so the demise of independent media continues. Someday, we'll all be working for Rupert Murdoch.

Public way, private gain. The Herald's Scott Van Voorhis reports today that the sweet deal granted to the Red Sox last year -- being allowed to shut down Yawkey Way, a public street, before and during home games -- is even sweeter than one might have imagined.

His lead: "The Red Sox pay only about $2,000 a game to use the city's Yawkey Way for concessions, yet game-day sales on the street generate an estimated $20,000 to $40,000 for the team and its concessions partner, Aramark Corp."

Little effect. I love Bob Ryan's column in today's Globe on Grady Little's decision to bench wayward slugger Manny Ramirez.

Ryan's money graf:

So now we know exactly what the Red Sox bought for their $160 million. Manny Ramirez is a gifted hitter of baseballs, of whom it can be said that he simply does not get "it," whatever that elusive "it" is. He has no business playing in Boston, New York, Chicago, or any locale in which the fans invest their time, money, and passion in the local baseball team. He is a frustrating and maddening figure, because, despite his recent actions (or nonactions), we all know deep in our heart of hearts that if there is one person in the employ of the Boston Red Sox who is capable of hitting a two-out, two-strike winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series, it is Manny Ramirez, to whom, it is distinctly possible, said wallop would mean no more than if he hit a solo, seventh-inning home run against the Twins at City of Palms Park on March 15.

No doubt Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino would get rid of Ramirez tomorrow if they could find a team dumb enough to accept his salary.

Unfortunately, that's not going to happen.

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