Killer Diller?s Change of Heart


| May 7, 2003


Media conglomerates have encountered an unlikely opponent in USA Interactive?s Chairman and CEO Barry Diller. Formerly the head of Fox and Paramount Studios, Diller?s infamous take-no-prisoners managerial style spawned a generation of Hollywood powerbrokers known as ?The Killer Dillers,? including former Paramount president Dawn Steel, Dreamworks Studio co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Disney chairman and CEO Michael Eisner. In 1995, Diller hailed Disney?s acquisition of ABC as ?a great transaction.? At a recent industry trade show, however, Diller warned broadcasters that media conglomerates have ?gone too far? in their pursuit of the market share.

In a recent interview on PBS? Now With Bill Moyers, Diller referred to the five corporations that control television content as a ?dangerous oligopoly.? When asked by Moyers to defend his use of such a ?very strong word,? Diller noted that a ?handful of companies? have integrated, ?both vertically and horizontally.? As a result, ?four or five companies control 90 percent of everything we see.? Ten years ago, for example, independent television producers created 16 new television series. Last year, there was only one. Diller attributes such changes to ?the forces of consolidation.? While he doesn?t believe that such results are ?evil,? Diller feels it?s time to tell conglomerates, ?[you] can?t own every voice there is to own.?

In the past, when media acquisitions resulted in an unfair market advantage, federal regulations forced corporations to ?rebalance themselves.? In the coming weeks, however, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on further media deregulation, which, if passed, would remove the rules limiting the number of stations a single broadcaster can own in one market. Diller may be the most notable opponent to media consolidation, but he?s not the only person with the power to influence the vote. Check out Moveon.org to learn how you can make a difference in the fight against FCC media deregulation.

Go there>> Now With Bill Moyers interview transcript



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