AOL and Time Warner had merged! … or else should we consider our future?

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The piece of news which had spread worldwide immediately would really have an influence on the world. Though by the exchange of shares but it was the American Online (AOL), the most significant Internet company in the world, though having only a fifteen year pat, which had annexed the American giant of the media market, the Time Warner. The capital of the syndicated media empire is three-hundred billion dollars and this way it had become the biggest media enterprise of the world now. It marks the capital that the ten year national income of Hungary would not be enough to buy that. The AOL brought its direct connection with it some 20-25 million Internet subscribers and numerous previously bought up companies (e.g. CompuServe) into the marriage. The „wealth” of the Time Warner is, among others, the Time Magazine printed in four million copies daily, the CNN, the HBO, motion picture studios and innumerable magazines.

In connection with the sensational news the speakers had told everything that could be the possible result of the syndicate and others had told the opposite of the same statements. There are people who are anxious for democracy directly about such a big and influential participant of the economy. Meanwhile others see the guarantee of democracy in it that such a participant of the media cannot be limited by even the means of power of the most significant governments. I would not like to join this debate with my writing and become one of the several hundred thousand people of any of the sides. Of course I assume my opinion this time too, and I even believe that it could be gathered from my following raisings. I myself see more positiviness and mainly more desirable potentialities in these processes than the real danger of it. I am convinced that instead of the will to „overcome” each others’ opinion we should lay stress upon the maximum of positive potentialities of the syndicate accepting its fact. And beside this we should simultaneously minimize the possible dangers. Because its lessons have an effect also on us while we can also discover numerous business opportunities in the process conducing to the syndicate of the two multinational companies.

There are winners of this unstoppable trend already in Hungary too. Nor the three individual people constituting the Elender public limited company regretted when they received an offer to buy of eight billions for the enterprise constituted by them on credit and they could not resist it. Nor it was a little purchase price what the municipality of the district five had pocketed for the City TV, the inner city cable television network connected to barely a few thousand places (but what places?). I hope that nor Tamás Gyárfás will get angry with me, who is a friend of mine and spends all his time in the fantastic facilities of the NAP TV constituted out of nothing by him. But I am sure that in the not too distant future he will receive such an offer for his production basis that, regardless to the own child, he will lose his strength. It is not accidental that the PanTel and the MATÁV are developing mainly their Internet-based telecommunication systems now, similarly to the Westel and the Pannon GSM. The MATÁV, though with a few year delay, had already recognized the probable dynamics of this process years ago. It started to extend its cable television and Internet systems and to obtain the biggest market share possible in double-quick time. I am sure that these projects will make multiple refund for the investors. The same thing should be striven after both in the home legislation and in the stimulation of the Hungarian projects. That the still home participants should get a good chance in the realization of the projects of this trend in Hungary and Middle-East Europe, in obtaining the market shares. For the sake of that, at the time of the buying ups and annexations to be expected within a few years let the value received for their ventures mean a several billion dollar investment of capital for the present participants of the Hungarian economy.

The legislation has to prepare itself for the reception of these processes too. It should not resist or restrain this process but it should build it into the Hungarian legal system for the interest of all of us. Who pays attention can see it already that there will not be such a big struggle to buy the concession of the Hungarian ground television and radio broadcasting rights. I am also not sure that following the some day expiring concession licenses there will be any offerors on this field. Also the husbandry of the Hungarian public service television has to be settled the way that it can hardly count on the constitutionally already contestable television operating fee in the long run. Nor the ones offering a „paying” performance yet will be really capable of living, including also the coded television channels.

Because the households connected to the Internet-based cable systems will be able to freely make their own program packages from the television or radio programs of any point of the world. This way the program suppliers can expect incomes only from the advertisers. The payers of the cable networks will be the stores, banks, insurance companies, travel agencies, airlines, hotels etc. offering their performances to the consumers. We will neither have to leave our homes, offices, i.e. our special Internet computer to manage our official businesses (construction permits, applications for passport, real estate registrations, tax returns etc.). we can also exercise our citizenship rights (for example our votes at the elections) over the Internet soon.

…. For this reason both we and the legislators have a lot to prepare ourselves for!



János Palotás – January 13, 2000