It's been a favorite media pastime to speculate on why the AOL Time Warner merger was a huge bomb. One think-tank thinker, Adam Thierer of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, looks at the flop in a larger context and asks, whatever happened to the "big media monopoly" that everyone was concerned about and, more importantly, where are we heading? Of course, we all know now that the new media revolution passed the conglomerates by (and for the most part still has) -- they've failed to keep up with the "customization, personalization, choice, competition, and, above all, abundance," as Thierer puts it, that shapes the new world. Moreover, he argues that outdated FCC regulations, which apply only to traditional media, are hampering their transition to new media. Conversely, people and companies relying on new media are free from many of the existing restrictions and therefore have an unfair advantage over traditional types. Sounds good in theory, but more than any regulations, old media companies have hurt themselves worse by clinging to existing business models, trying to rig the system to fit those models, and forcing people to consume their products the way they (the companies) want them to be consumed. They could make the transition much easier on themselves -- outdated regulations or not -- by embracing new business models that cede more control to consumers, rather than the other way around.
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