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David Greenmoor, UK
"It's a very exciting time"
 real 28k

Paul Stancer, Hong Kong
"Companies are merging because they have to"
 real 28k

Mark Lynas, Corporate Watch UK
"It's the beginning of the end for freedom of speech"
 real 28k

Laura Marcus, UK
"Mega media mergers will never overtake individual taste"
 real 28k

Tommy Bomber, South Africa
"Greater employment opportunites"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 2 February, 2000, 14:35 GMT
Big business: The new superpowers?

As the corporate elite rub shoulders once more with world leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum, big businesses have more power than ever before.

AOL/Time Warner Special Report
The latest merger between EMI and Time Warner, follows a string of massive company tie-ups, but is big business getting too big and too powerful?

We took your phone calls and emails on the subject LIVE on air.

Click below to watch Talking Point On Air

  • Your comments since the programme

  • Your comments during the programme

  • Your comments before we went ON AIR

    Your comments since the programme

    Big corporate business means dictatorship. Having established a total monopoly the consumer will have no choice but to buy their products (often of poor quality) at inflated prices. Because of their financial clout they are able to influence or more likely "impose" their political will. Who said that slavery is dead? We the consumer can stop them by not buying their products. Lets start a revolution. Lets buy products made by small business only. We have the power. Without us these big companies can not survive!
    Glauca Rossi, United Kingdom

    Again it has to be reiterated that the Fortune 500 has a lower share of global GDP now than it has had over the last 20 years. Big business is not the future it's the flexible SME that creates real growth. I've never quite understood why if global free trade is so bad that countries like Korea and China want to get involved with it. Surely it's not because they recognise that it will bring benefit to their own population that they might otherwise not receive?
    Algy, UK

    Yes, global corporations have too much power and we have very little democratic control over them. Governments seem more willing to protect the interests of big business than the people who elected them. This means people feel disenfranchised which just promotes direct action. If governments won't control big business it seems that the people have to do it.
    Barry Tregear, England

    Of course mega-mergers are not a good thing. Large corporations are profit driven, are not concerned with the public good and their activities can only be controlled by government and in the case of multi-nationals by trans-government co-operation. The issue for the general public is the way in which the free-market/globalisation argument has become the 'consensus' view of politicians. The workings of global capitalism for this is what it is, will impoverish and degrade the planet for the rest of us.
    Brian Binney, UK

  • The film 'Robocop' is an excellent satire on greed and lack of ethics of most big business.
    Alex Cutelli, UK
    The Global Climate Coalition is perhaps the best example that there is of the power big business has over governments. If it were not for the Global Climate Coalition and the support of the anti-environmental, Republican-dominated US Congress, the US administration would ratify the Kyoto protocol. Only when the US is seen to be serious about implementing environmental protection measures is the developing world likely to follow suit. The film 'Robocop' is an excellent satire on greed and lack of ethics of most big business.
    Alex Cutelli, UK

    Sure big business it getting too powerful. As an example here in the USA for the next election business is backing the best candidate money can buy - Our dear beloved G.W Bush, like father like son and people are dumb enough not to see it. What's good for General Motors is good for the country.
    John, USA

    Of course. They always had and they always will have too much power, as long as we have CORRUPTED POLITICIANS. Who is running the USA?
    Felix Fernando, USA

    As long Government creates an economic environment that enables new enterprises to take advantage of the inherent dis-economies of scale of very large multinationals. As long as the government maintains these conditions by not being bullied by these corporations into creating a non-competitive market place -then I'm not worried.
    Robert Watts, England

    I have a lot of confidence in the intelligence of customers to control large companies, but it is up to Governments to prevent evasion by large organisations.
    Bob Harvey, UK
    I don't think there can be any doubt that the growth of the multinational is one of the biggest challenges for society in the new century. They have emerged without corresponding multi-government approaches to their regulation and monitoring and they represent a real challenge to democracy and the rights of the individual. But they don't exist in a vacuum. The power they have, and it is very considerable, is given to them by us, their customers. The relationship of corporation/customer is as important as government/voter. I have a lot of confidence in the intelligence of customers to control large companies, but it is up to Governments to prevent evasion by large organisations.
    Bob Harvey, UK

    Big Business controlling the world and Globalisation are what was predicted by George Orwell in his book 1984.
    It is the ruination of the world in as much as few will have power, fulfilling jobs and money and the majority will be doomed to either no employment or employment in poor "McDonalds" type jobs. Little or no opportunity for using one's own mind and poor pay and conditions.
    Paul Barker, New Zealand

    The entire discourse of free trade has turned markets into mere dumping grounds for products.
    Winnie Wanzala, Germany
    The recent concessions made by Free Trade Advocates on Genetically Modified Products does not overshadow the fact that the interests of multinationals have global dominance.
    The entire discourse of free trade has turned markets into mere dumping grounds for products, particularly suspect GM products, and consumers into instruments for profits that accrue to a narrower range of the world's population in this era of corporate mega merging.
    This process, which is a core feature of globalisation, not only destroys job security, thus depriving people of their basic rights to food and shelter but also denies consumers their right to make informed choices over the goods they buy.
    Winnie Wanzala, Germany

    I'm concerned about the possibility that corporate mergers depend for their continued thriving on fostering ever-increasing consumption and therefore pollution, especially by greenhouse gases.
    Now, corporate merging on the one hand and greenhouse gas production preoccupations on the other hand are both massive global forces that are apparently acting in opposite directions. What will happen and on what time scale?
    Andrew James, France

    However fair the laws in theory, they always work better for the rich and powerful. This is as true for countries in the world order as it is for citizens of a country.
    Take the case of intellectual property rights. When someone in the US decides to patent basmati rice, which is a geographic variety known in India and Pakistan for centuries, India has to wage a protracted and costly legal battle to have it overturned.
    The same happens when someone decides to patent turmeric, known as every grandma's remedy in this country. And then some Japanese with more enterprise than ethics wants to patent curry. What level playing field can poor countries expect under a regime of globalisation?
    Anand Doraswami, India

    I do not believe that the existence of very large companies in itself is a threat to anything or anyone. The real issue is that there is little regulation to ensure such mega corporations invest anything in charities or fulfil any social functions with their vast profits. There should be minimum investments in such activities regulated by government.
    Jonathan Drake, UK

    More powerful industry leads to reduced choice
    Pascal Broeckx, France
    More powerful industry leads to reduced choice. Ever been to the US and tried to eat a good local cheese? In the supermarket you will find only the Kraft-made pasteurised cheese product. Local tastes will disappear as food companies merge and try to make the products appeal to a larger market group. Do we really believe that companies will heed to governments that are economically less powerful?
    Pascal Broeckx, France

    One of the shortcomings of capitalism is that business corporations can grow into such big monopolies that they can have influence on state policy. But even in the field of business they can have a negative impact. Take the example of the oil giants - they represent such an enormous power that they leave no chance for other firms with alternative innovations to compete. Technology would get some new horizons if only these ideas could have similar chances against the giants.
    Ladislav Kovács

    Why are big companies powerful? All the coercive power they exercise, they exercise through government. Ironically this makes people call for more government power to stop it. When we create huge government bureaucracies with coercive power, only big corporate bureaucracies have the power to control them. The answer to this is to take away the powers of government, and restore them to individuals where they belong.
    Alex Stanway, England

    Globalisation is not a new phenomenon. It's just another word for capitalism. Over 150 years ago, in the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels pointed to the dominance of the world market over individual countries, stating: The need of a constantly expanding market chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, establish conditions everywhere.

    Mega-mergers allow huge corporations to reap economies of scale which are unavailable to smaller companies, trading nationally. As laws in different parts of the world are harmonised, small firms go to the wall, while big businesses prosper. And when the mega-mergers have resulted in an absence of real market competition, monopolised profits can be made, and the financial and political power of the big businesses will prevent smaller ones from starting up and succeeding.
    Max Hess, UK

    Globalization exacerbates all the social problems which result from inequity of wealth, power and influence.
    Toni Vincent, USA
    The US government is owned by large corporations who buy appointments to various trade commissions etc that operate in their interests to the detriment of the population. Social problems caused by corporations maximizing profits, such as unemployment, environmental harm, health hazards and poverty are not addressed by trade policies and are devastating social services and efforts to eliminate suffering in the world. Great concentrations of anything is life-destroying; whether it is wealth and poverty or chemicals in fresh water. The corporation was developed as an instrument to extract and exploit wealth from colonies. They still function in that manner. Neo-liberal globalization exacerbates all the social problems resulting from inequity of wealth, power and influence.
    Toni Vincent, USA

    Your comments during the programme

    Mergers are taking the dangerous trend of micro-managing local social/political environments. It is obvious that such mergers are either restricting small business trade and increasing the number of poor individuals while increasing the wealth of the few. Governments are taking away the freedom of choice of individuals by frequently siding with mega-corporations. If this is to continue there will likely be negative social consequences.
    D MacMillan Seattle, WA USA

    The dress-down debate

    Wow, sloppy dress. What a derogatory term. The only time in my working career that I have worn a suit and tie is when going for an interview. For my last two jobs I have dressed as I normally do (sloppy). The most important thing about what we wear is to be comfortable. As long as it doesn't offend my fellow workers what does it matter? To call it 'sloppy' is an insult.
    Roy, Switzerland

    I work in the corporate environment and wear suits as do all the other men and women with whom I work. We tried to go with the "dressing down" idea on Fridays but it was a disaster due to the fact that everybodys idea of dressing down was so different. Our office ended up looking like a holdiay beach with people in various states of torn jeans, revealing clothing etc. If I were a client I would not have taken my organization very seriously.
    Margot Cox Bermuda

    My name's Hal and I'm an official at the European Commission. I decided one month ago that the whole wearing a suit to work thing was outdated and pointless, so I took off the tie and started to come to work in jeans. Last week I had a "talking to" from my boss. So much for modern European attitudes.
    Hal, Belgium

    The direction from the corporate centre to wear a certain style of dress to work, is a form of control and like all central controls it does not work in today's new world where initiative and resourcefulness of the individual is critical to success. Making people look alike tends to make people think alike - the kiss of death in the modern economy.
    Robert Stewart, Bermuda

    We don't have to worry about these mega-mergers because we all have enough discerning taste to find alternatives, I've got far too much faith in human nature for that.
    Laura Marcus, UK

    Globalisation brings the world together and shows us that we are all the same.
    Glenn Dungate Perth, Western Australia
    One problem with mega-mergers between the .com companies and traditional stocks is that it provides a very real way in which the Internet bubble can "infect" the rest of the stock market. If the junk value of over-inflated .com stocks can be used to leverage the purchase of traditional stocks, the speculative bubble will inevitably spread with increased risks for all when it finally bursts.
    Jon Seymour, Australia

    If you can't use political manipulation to satisfy a need to control the world at least those that have the money can buy it. The 'global economy' and mega-mergers are regarded as inevitable economic necessities by politicians yet when was the last time a politician was elected to office on such platforms?
    R Tolkien, Australia

    Since at least the early 1970s the power of labour has been diminished in relation to the power of capital, and what is happening now is the logical conclusion of this process. What we have now is the situation that Marx predicted, with the growing concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a small minority; it is indeed, a ruling class ie an economic group that also has political power. The answer is for working people to organise into unions and establish what Galbraith calls "countervailing power".
    Graham Howard, Brit expat in USA

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    Big companies do mean big profits at the expense of consumers. Wait a minute! They also mean big profits at the cost of employees. We have all seen headines like this one - So-and-so company plans to lay off 6000 employees during the year. CEO gets 11.5 million dollar bonus. Profits are up. Of course they are. You cannot continue to develop machines which replace people and then wonder why you have unemployment.
    Max Mahajan, Singapore

    Globalisation of the world economy seems inevitable and if it is the result of "responsible" capitalism, rather than a drive to make huge profits for a handful of shareholders at the expense of those in developing countries, it will have a positive effect on the world economy.
    Ian Thomas, Spain

    Is big business out of control? No, big business is IN control. It's naive to think that our 'democracies' are controlled by the electorate, or even by politicians.
    PH, Denmark

    Big companies can all too easily become vulnerable giants, often oblivious to their impending downfall.
    Adrian Paul Miles, Birmingham, UK

    Mergers in this new millenium are generally for defensive purposes, the economies of scale etc. These large corporations have practically unlimited access to Government, also huge media and advertising power. In the developed world we have the knowledge and a healthy cynicism which gives us an opportunity to address the fundamental problems we all face due to the tyranny of Capitalism. Unfortunately those in the developing countries, where the large corporations will increasingly run to in order to maintain their profits through reduced wages, conditions and legal constraints. It's the threats to those people that we should really be concerned with, they have no means to re-address the situation
    David, UK

    Of course big business has too much power. It's government for the corporation, by the corporation. Who do we think is paying the government off, at the price of the environment, and the peasants? Well, this peasant is fighting back. I only buy used cars, own a used guitar, and don't go to Starbucks.
    Morgan O'Conner, USA

    In the last century politicians spoke about making the world safe for democracy. They were perhaps talking about political democracy. However, political democracy in the absence of economic democracy does not make much sense. The unlimited growth of large corporations has concentrated economic and political powers in the hands of a few, and this imbalance of power has to be addressed in this century. So I hope someone will now say that we should "make the world safe for economic democracy."
    A.V. Avadhuta, Albania

    Big corporations can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Big Corporations offer employment opportunities to the labour force of the countries where they are present, while also providing much needed training for local labour. Big corporations usually bring much needed business expertise and entrepreneurial skills to developing countries. Taxation on the earnings of the corporations can be used for the development of infrastructures and education

    Corporations also have disadvantages. They usually only have a profit motive in mind when dealing with various countries, and those profits are usually channelled to the country of origin. Big Corporations can use their huge economic investments to gain an influence in particular countries in order to force democratically elected governments to make decisions which are contrary to the wishes of the electorate. At the same time it can also use its influence to bring about changes in autocratic, communist countries such as China. The presence of big corporations usually inhibits competition as it is very difficult to match the services and technical expertise available to the big corporations and free enterprise usually suffers.
    TH Bowmer, South Africa

    Another serious problem with mega-mergers is the question of censorship. Do you really trust a mega-company news service to give an unbiased report about any questionable activities other branches of the company are involved in? Would they report them at all? Bigger companies equals bigger censorship.
    Nai, Japan

    I agree with most of the comments here; the comment discussing the DeCSS issue is a good example of how powerful organizations can influence our civil liberties. International governments should at least launch an enquiry to assess these ethical issues that are unfortunately becomming more an more apparent.
    James, France

    Evolution plays its part in anything that has to march to the rhythm of time, including business. Large companies are like large animals, they are slow to move and require a high throughput to maintain itself. Large and inertial companies are probably more at risk especially as we begin to go into the new century. What keeps firms alive is adaptability and flexibility to move with the times. I believe Time Warner will become a 'corporate dinosaur' soon enough, especially with ideas like MP3 etc. which seem to be breaking all previous 'rules' about business.
    Jon B, Sweden

    The monopolism is known as the main cause of the control of markets by big companies, but it seems we have forgotten it. And it seems that we have also forgotten that the development after II War was based in capitalism with competition.
    Rafael Bertoluci, Brazil

    As corporations get large they become less responsive to the market demands, this leads to a lower market share. The lower market share causes the corporation to make less money and profits are down. Once profits start dropping the stockholders start leaving he corporation and the corporation starts down sizing. Next thing you know the corporation is smaller and responding to market pressures again. The companies respond to the market not the other way around.
    Richard T. Ketchum, USA

    I don't think a taste of companies big power has yet been exercised. There is a distinct difference however, companies have very specific goals, and democracies are designed for everyone.
    Colin, Netherlands

    For centuries political scientists have been fearful of unbridled state power and have set about devising elaborate mechanisms to limit its concentration (and rightly so of course). Yet for some unfathomable reason economic power is simply assumed to be inherently benign. The interests of only a tiny minority of humanity are served by the continual growth of corporate power vis-ŕ-vis the state and individual citizens, and we all need to take steps to ensure that such power is reigned in before all hope of creating a sustainable, human-centred economic system is lost. J18 and Seattle pointed the way. I for one hope it was only the start of a global non-violent movement for economic and politic justice.
    Mat Guthrie, UK

    Not to worry. Corporations are like people, they get old and then they die.
    Reynard, USA

    Who but a company can tell me that I have to wear those ridiculous suits and ties?
    Martin Thompson, United Kingdom
    The companies merge because they believe it will lead to greater efficiency. Greater efficience should lead to greater profitiability overall (and GDP (output) in the West has risen exponentially throughout the 20th Century, suggesting that something is being done right). Greater GDP seems to be leading to a higher standard of living for most people in the countries concerned - or am I missing something?

    I think that the problem is more in the direction of companies' legal status: they are notional 'persons' and are protected in law as if they had human rights, yet they are rich enough to distort the process of law to the point of subversion at times. Companies also routinely limit free expression: how many office workers have to dress smartly to keep their jobs? Who but a company can tell me that I have to wear those ridiculous suits and ties? It is where companies can affect our lives directly that the real creeping danger lies. Economic efficiency is not a problem.
    Martin Thompson, United Kingdom

    One the real reasons for the recent demonstrations against the WTO in Seattle Washington was because of big businesses and the explotation of working men, women and children. Obviously, big businesses don't learn the lessons against this inhumane practices. I live on the USA-Mexico border and the explotation that goes here is a downright crime! The judicial system who seem to poke their noses in every other country's human rights abuses just look the other way and ignores the whole sordid affairs. In fact, the real reason why the judicial, police and penal systems are established here at home is to protect big businesses from human right abuses!
    Fermin-Fermon Torres, New Mexico USA

    These mergers are new kind of monopolism and it will make it difficult for new companies to emerge, and it is also against free competition.
    Ismail Adan ,from Somalia, currently in Cyprus

    As the old saying goes: "What's great for Wall Street, is bad for Main Street"
    Steve Kenney, USA
    As the old saying goes: "What's great for Wall Street, is bad for Main Street". There seems to be a growing rift between the interests of commerce, and the interests of the fundamentals of Democracy. When something like 50 of the top 100 economies in the world are companies and not countries, we have very good reason to worry about their influence in all aspects of our lives.
    Steve Kenney, USA

    The danger with mega mergers is their tendency not to innovate. They become bogged down by bureaucracy while the scrappy upstarts capture ever new niches from them. Look at the founding of Apple, Sun Microsystems, Dell, Microsoft right under the noses of NCR, IBM, Wang, GE etc. The megamergers control the barriers to entry on a grand scale. But they definitely have no monopoly on creativity or knowledge. Look at the new Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on university campuses today. The scappy nimbles are spawning!!
    Ed Edet, USA/Nigeria

    I'd rather have businesses running things than lame-duck governments
    Pete Morgan-Lucas, UK
    I don't have a problem with successful businesses buying each other up. It works. I'd rather have businesses running things than lame-duck governments ploughing my money into dead-end projects which have no hope of ever turning a profit. It's government meddling in and distorting the markets that causes the problems in many cases! Remember - you can decide not to spend your money on AOL, but you can't decide not to pay your taxes...
    Pete Morgan-Lucas, UK

    Let the companies merge, but give watchdogs more power to intervene if the power goes to the company's head.
    Jim, UK

    The most disturbing aspect of this Davos conference is not only the lush atmosphere of privilege that pervades it, evidenced by the choice to hold it in such an expensive resort area. Rather, it is the inclusion of both world political and economic leaders. For a country like the United States, that nationally and internationally espouses the principle of democracy, this is especially problematic. There is, at the very least, some element of democracy in the selection of many world leaders, but the recognition of the political significance of world economic leaders is fundamentally undemocratic. Most international financial and economic elites are not any more products of their own hard work than are the numerous families of nobility scattered throughout the US and Europe. These people are not democratically elected, nor do they have a vested interest in pursuing the best interest of the vast majority of people.
    GJH, USA

    Far form being a new idea, mergers of this sort, which erode competition, have been predicted as the natural outcome of capitalism by people who are today labelled as "Marxists." Perhaps this kind of critique is rooted in Marxism, but from what we see unfolding before us, this critique seems highly foresighted. Those who value capitalism as proclaimed by Adam Smith should be alarmed of the pattern we are seeing, that is most appropriately described as 'corporate mercantilism.'
    Mark, Canada

    Multinational corporations have been controlling most governments in the developing countries
    Muturi Gecaga, Kenya
    Multinational corporations have been controlling most governments in the developing countries, eg the Elf-Aquitane and the former French colonies like the Congo (Brazzaville) where they helped a former dictator overthrow a democratically-elected government, or Shell International which had been helping military governments run Nigeria. One of the most active multinationals -Lonrho - is responsible for bad governments in English speaking countries like Kenya where the president and his cronies have been exploiting nearly all sectors which generate wealth from a simple petrol station to automobile assembly plants. Elf-Aquitane bankrolled the re-elections of the former German Chancellor Kohl , so we can say that it has been controlling the politics in Germany as well as in the European Union where Germany is a powerhouse. Not to mentions the Swedish Arms manufacturing company which has been very active in countries like India (during the Gandhi era).I think there will come a time when all important sectors will be owned by a just a few individuals..
    Muturi Gecaga, Kenya

    I think that the recent mega mergers represent a challenge to the anti trust authorities around the world.
    Diego Martin Sabat, Argentina

    Horizontal integration must end! The mega-conglomerates hold far too much wealth and power. They buy and sell politicians with the same ease as buttering toast. In the USA, government of, by and for the people was abandoned over 50 years ago when military, industrial and commercial interests merged in the prosecution of World War II. However, as long as governments continue to have authority over the military, conglomerates can be dealt with. When we start hearing about "privatising" the military, then we know the end is near.
    P.E. Westlake, USA

    Mergers are a good idea as long as they focus their goal on quality. One hand claps in soundless silence and when two hands clap, the world awakens; so if two brains merge and work proactively, think of the outcome!!
    Kiran Kumar Arasada, India, currently in Germnay

    I wonder if anyone has read the history books, 17th-18th Century. Do the names Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company mean anything to you? These were very large trading companies that exploited the world, they had charters from their governments that gave them the right to have their own army and navy, they had control, more or less absolute, of the colonies that they traded from, effectively their word was law, all in the name of commerce. Obviously there are different circumstances and controls placed upon companies these days that do not allow for a commercial interest to have the right to dictate terms to the general populace, or do we...
    Paul Thomas, Australia

    Mega-merging is a stab in the back of Free market economy and growth of Capitalism.
    Shahid Parvez, USA
    Mega-merging is a stab in the back of Free market economy and growth of Capitalism. It discourages the growth of new businesses from fear of competition. It results in manpower reduction, monopolisation of the market and higher price fixing, resulting in poor and unstable economy. The consumers must unite and vote against it.
    Shahid Parvez, USA

    Mergers just means that a big company knocks out their opponents. What happens then you ask? Well, lets say for no reason at all a sport only has one team left in it. Do you really think they're going to try very hard to get fans? No, they have no opponents. Therefore, the new company will charge more since it knows you'll have to come to them and they'll have no reasons for lowering prices (end of story).
    Sam, USA

    It's an "honourable" way of enriching oneself in the name of innovation, consolidation and maintaining a strong market presence.
    Andy Sithole, UK
    In a typical Mafia style, senior management of the so called mega-merger companies are lining their pockets through golden handshakes, handcuffs and arbitrarily decided share option schemes. It's an "honourable" way of enriching oneself in the name of innovation, consolidation and maintaining a strong market presence. The mega mergers go on despite evidence to their benefits. We are watching.
    Andy Sithole, UK

    What happens to my right to a choice? With mega-mergers being the new buzzword, the ultimate loser is the consumer and I resent the fact that a merger taking place thousands of miles away finally affects me by restricting my choices or in the final analysis - giving me no choice at all.
    Anita, Canada

    The recent Time-Warner, AOL, and EMI merger threatens to supersede the power of democratic control. In an interview with Time Warner-owned CNN, Time Warner Chair Gerald Levin claimed that the corporate media are now more important than government, educational institutions and non-profits. Given this power, Levin argues that media conglomerates should be redefined as instruments of public service, which could deal more efficiently with societies problems than bureaucratic governments. Should the democratic structure of our society really be abandoned in favour of global corporate governance?
    John Williams, USA

    Mega-mergers means mega monopolies.
    Laura, USA
    I agree with one of the comments here which says that this merger has been done to fully utilise the power of the Internet, which has, to say the least, revolutionised the way we do business. In the long run, there is a 90% chance , that Time Warner may review its association with AOL because in today's world, companies like AOL are going to have to strive extremely hard if they wish to retain the kind of edge and respect that it commands in today's world. Because there is ,after all , no guarantee that AOL may exist in another 5 years.........
    Madhu Jatheendran, USA

    Corporate giants have more money, more influence and more outright power in today's society than our elected bodies.
    Bill, UK
    Mega-mergers are producing giants that can dictate terms to entire countries, if they feel aggrieved. They have zero accountability and stupendous power. American media giants have pressured Denmark into arresting and interrogating the developer of DeCSS - the program which allowed people to watch DVDs on their home computer. The reports from Denmark are grim, and there is little good on the horizon. Rather than be complacent, because one such merger does not appear, right now, to be malevolent, we should reflect on the fact that such corporate giants have more money, more influence and more outright power in today's society than our elected bodies. Remember, you can't vote out a board of directors, and public sentiment doesn't make for profits.
    Bill, UK

    I think that these mega-mergers will mean less accountability to the customer and governments will not have the ability to regulate them. This is very reminiscent of the trusts at the end of the Nineteenth Century. The real danger now, with these mega-mergers, is that the world will become a global mill-town.
    Jeff, USA

    The EMI/Warner/AOL merger is possibly the most exciting corporate move that has happened in the past decade. It SHOULD herald a deluge of new content available digitally over the Internet. On the other hand, the big-five record labels have so far tried to smother the growth of digital music distribution. If this merger opens the floodgates, the market online will climb beyond everyone's forecasts.
    David Greenmoor, UK

    The government is supposed to protect the public from monopolies, not encourage them. All the US government does is rubber stamp the mega-mergers at the expense of the consumer. After the Exxon-Mobil merger, which affected just about everyone who uses energy, the government will allow just about any merger.
    Tom Vannini, USA

    Mergers are about companies seeking scale to offset the constant downward pressure on prices.
    Jeremy, USA
    Use the evidence of your own wealth and buying power. The massive majority of consumers get more for less today than at any time in History. Why? Because capitalism works. Mergers are about companies seeking scale to offset the constant downward pressure on prices. Prices go down value for consumer goes up. Scale is one of the processes by which companies deal with this problem. Why does everyone in England assume that there is some great Corporate conspiracy to rip them off.
    Jeremy, USA

    I think TimeWarner and EMI are going to get a shock in about 5 to 10 years when AOL start throwing their boot around.
    Luke Marsh, Wales

    I've always suspected that we're all run by five mystic men in big hats who sit in a dark smoke-filled room around a green baize table making decisions that shape the whole of mankind...
    Jonathan, Denmark

    Corporate tyranny is taking grip. We, the 'rabble', need to stand up and say 'no' to less choice. In the US, we need to stop the corrupt system of election campaign financing by these corporate overlords.
    Veli, USA

    The effect of these mergers varies from sector to sector. mergers in the high tech and entertainment sectors will dictate how "convergence" progresses (or doesn't).
    Simon Browne

    Mega-mergers lead to the emergence of new start-up companies which undercut the giants and grab market segments from them. Instead of running around claiming that the sky is falling, why don't people simply recall how some small record companies got started - they got their start by grabbing artists and market segments that the big boys couldn't handle.
    Jon Livesey, USA

    Is this not much-laudable capitalism at work? Welcome to the unipolar world where 'free-market' destroys all diversity.
    Tridiv, Germany/India

    After so many years of industrialisation, the world has entered in the Information Age-The age of Network, Internet. In this New Millennium, business environment will change at a speed beyond our imagination. With the rapid advancements being made in information and technology, companies without innovative business models or that refuse to change themselves will be left behind in the competition. Companies have to focus on high potential business areas by taking up new challenges and drive for innovation in the business portfolios. With competition rapidly changing, companies should strengthen their core competencies, redefine and restructure themselves through mergers and acquisitions to be in line with the times.
    Rahul, Russia.

    Big companies, like big countries, come and go. We can look at the deregulation of the energy and transport & telecoms industries. These changes will bring some benefits and some costs, but the real value will come in the next wave when more logical business units are formed as a result of this to-ing and fro-ing. Having found that there is life after redundancy, I see that there is plenty of money to be made by those of us with enough entrepreneurial flair to give it a go. But let's not forget to include people in developing countries and the third world in our potential gains. With foresight we really can have the whole world win.
    Steve Cairns, UK

    Mega-mergers are no better off than having a leader who runs the country's economy by distributing the wealth via nepotism and cronyism. Healthy competition? Dream on.
    Faiz, Malaysia

    Companies are not getting bigger and bigger. EMI and Warner merged not in order to dominate the world, enslaving the entire population, but due to the threat of new competition (over the internet in this case). It is this entry which stops companies getting bigger and bigger; indeed over the last 100 years the size distribution of firms has barely changed.
    Simon Board, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, USA

    It's easy to get paranoid over these things. I think that, with the growth of the Internet, the whole EMI/Warner thing will become increasingly irrelevant. Due to MP3 and the possibilities it holds, the music industry is about to splinter, just as it did in the late sixties with the arrival of the first independent labels. It took the major labels twenty years to consolidate and recover the ground they lost to the Indies (Elektra, Asylum, Island, Virgin, Chrysalis, Charisma, etc. - now all owned by the majors), and the same thing will happen now. I think that this is a defensive, rather than an attacking move on their part.
    Bak Kescske, Hungary

    The customer interest is not relevant.
    Dada, USA
    The underlying motif behind these giant mergers, I believe, is that they are just striving for survival. The customer interest is not relevant in this context. The products are going to be more and more distant from the real need of the consumers. These metamorphic strategy is not going to last forever, it will come the time when the economy will have to ground to the public utility.
    Dada, USA

    These mergers mean two things, monopolies and oligopolies. There will be no competition, which will result in high prices, poor products, and low innovation. These monopolistic type companies counter the goal of capitalism, and are not in the best interest of the consumer.
    Jeremy DeWaal, United States

    Huge capital is needed now for any modern corporate to function effectively on a Global basis. Hence mergers are inevitable. Marketing strategies will dominate commerce in this era of information. What the customers will get depends on which country's corporations dominate the global economy. Hope it will be good.
    Dr.M.S.Sivaraman., India

    No I'm not worried. Today's mega-merger is tomorrow's redundant dinosaur industry. The wind blows through the remains of companies that only 15 years ago people worried were monopolistic and too powerful. There is ample evidence that business follows patterns identical to ecological systems, indeed some good papers have been written on this. In the meantime good enterprising growth will tend to give some exciting new products and some keener prices.
    Matt, UK

    Ironically it is a good thing. This is because a large global organisation has to think about addressing global audiences. This means that for smaller media companies if you have content which is addressing localised or of a specialised nature you can find a niche market more easily.
    Mark Sargeant, UK

    Though I do not support party politics, I have to praise Margaret Thatcher for her government's drive, during her terms as prime minister, to stimulate small-scale private enterprise. I do not feel that gargantuan mergers are in the best interest of modern, independent man. For one thing, they promote an unhealthy deification of often clinical and overly profit oriented corporate policy. For another, individualism and entrepreneurial flair tend to be suppressed. I mean who wants to be just another cog in the wheel? That we should work more closely together without wasteful competition is a commendable goal however. The watchword here, I think, is "unity in diversity".
    Simon Cameron, UK

    It is important to distinguish mergers between companies in different industries (AOL and Time Warner), and mergers within an industry (Warner and EMI). The former allow for interesting new cross-products and services; the latter may indeed reduce consumer choice and competition. In either case, the internal logic of the modern market encourages all the firms to look for opportunities for mergers; but society and governmental institutions would do well to slap the "invisible hand" on the wrist when consumer interests are threatened.
    Pijus Virketis, Lithuania

    As much as the defenders of these mega-mergers tout their belief in the free market, mergers of this magnitude act against the true principles of the free market philosophy. Capitalism needs the stabilising power of competition in order that (1) the consumer gets what he/she wants and (2) that he/she pays a fair price for it. Adam Smith would have been a vehement opponent of a lot of the mergers we have been seeing lately. They serve no further purpose than to further increase the already-massive salaries of the boards of these two companies and to allow the larger shareholders to make a killing on the stock market. Ultimately, it is not the economy or the wider community that is served my mega-mergers, but, rather, the gold-rush mentality of a number of irresponsible individuals in positions of power.
    Dave, Scotland

    The Great Rock n' Roll Swindle. Less competition equals higher prices.
    Nick Southwood, England

    It's interesting to see the big scramble to buy up the merged companies' domain names in a move to make some money. Warner and EMI have overlooked this and don't own any of the popular combinations of their names. For instance and have already been sold to private speculators.
    Dean Sivell, UK

    Mergers like the Time Warner-EMI and Beecham-SKB ones are anti-competitive and offer the consumer reduced choice, which perhaps the relevant authorities ought to be investigating (MMC, etc). Also, in the case of EMI and Time Warner, the recording industry, certainly in the UK, is such a minefield of large, unresponsive companies these days it's virtually impossible to get a record deal unless hype suggests you'll make a number one album. That's why older or more established artists make it to no.1, not wholly on talent (as it should be), but on their reputation and their record company's ability to finance cheap, first-week sale prices. Terrible news for consumers and new music!
    Kelly Rivers, England

    What it means is basically two things: (1) They'll make more money, and (2) culture will find itself in greater danger of boring stagnation and bland homogenisation. The consolidation represents a reduction in competition in the industry, and as a result marketing will take on an even stronger causal role in forming what "product" will reach store shelves.
    C M Sanyk, USA

    Mega-mergers are old hat in the political sphere (Germany, Great Britain, France, etc. were all results of "mergers"). And what's happening now in many "merged countries"? Calls for devolution simultaneous with the creation of supra-national authorities. Expect the same in the economic sphere: lots of semi-autonomous subsidiaries under chaebol-style umbrellas. Whether this benefits the average citizen depends on many factors... not least whether the average citizen is important to the mega-corporations (i.e. consumes a lot - as in Europe or the US - or very little - as in Africa.)
    Tom Brucia

    It is just an exercise in corporate megalomania.
    Mac, Dundee
    In principle large mergers should bring economy of scale, greater efficiency by eliminating duplication, access to larger amounts of money for investment and allow the merged companies to become major global players. All of this should result in greater profitability. In fact the profitability of most merged companies does not improve, in some cases it worsens. Apart from earning huge bonuses for those who work the market it would seem it is just an exercise in corporate megalomania.
    Mac, Dundee

    It is my opinion that these mega-mergers are not something that are going to benefit the consumer in the long run. When you only have one or two mega-companies, you have no way of going elsewhere when you receive bad service. This ability is vital for the consumer to ensure the best possible service.
    Nathan, USA

    Imagine a world with two or three mega-companies, the consumer has no voice as the mega-companies can charge what they like. When a consumer is unhappy they are just a statistic because the 'distance' between the consumer and the head of these companies is huge. In fact the consumer is no longer sure of what these mega-companies actually do, they are just there all of the time selling everything. The consumer, who is a real person, becomes less sure of what the world is about. It becomes up to these mega-companies to hold the total responsibility for what they do with respect to their consumers and their employees. The question is will they choose to be responsible?
    Daren, UK

    As part of free market economics and globalisation, giant corporations based in the west merge and are subject to the laws of the rich countries where their registered offices are situated. But their tentacles reach out to the far reaches of the globe; to the small and poor countries whose interests and whose laws these companies often bypass. Once these multinational corporations are established in the poorer societies, the politicians of the rich countries then cajole and bully these developing countries whose economic regulatory regime is weak.
    Mohan Singh, India

    The bigger the company the more power it has to control governments, influence foreign policy, etc. However, lets also understand there never has been and never will be any such thing as democracy, only different degrees of it. Therefore, what's new?
    Krishan Canagasabey, UK

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    See also:
    24 Jan 00 |  Business
    Music giants join forces
    17 Jan 00 |  Business
    The Glaxo SmithKline merger
    10 Jan 00 |  Business
    The AOL - Time Warner merger

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