Cablevision Will Control Long Island

Editor: The mother of all media consolidations can be found in the merger of Cablevision Systems Corp. and Tribune Co.-owned Newsday Inc., which is much more than simply the consolidated ownership of Long Island's only daily and its sole 24-hour cable news channel.

These two companies will combine to become one communications empire with 100% Long Island market penetration of media, cable, phone and Internet. Anyone who lives or does business here stands to be adversely affected by this merger, because the information Long Island's 2.7 million residents receive, how they receive it, the cost to receive it and the cost to advertise in it soon will be decided by one entity.

The merger will result in the downsizing of reporters, followed by job losses on the business side. The former weakens our marketplace of ideas; the latter weakens our marketplace.

Under the Cablevision-Newsday Inc. merger scenario, all of the company's subsidiaries—including News 12, Newsday, Star Community Publishing's 2.6 million shoppers, plus Cablevision, Optimum, Optimum Lightpath, Rainbow and the scores of others—will operate without the scrutiny only an independent voice can freely and credibly provide.

Without such an independent voice, news consumers stand ready to lose out on a variety of news and information resources, as cutbacks promote the use of wire copy in place of local news that's relevant and meaningful. Free of any checks and balances, big media can dictate what it wants the public to know—and get away with it.

Local businesses, especially our 87,000 small businesses, stand to lose, as one entity will control advertising rates. Long Island, as a whole, stands to lose its identity through this one merger, which is so powerful that it stands to change the landscape of Long Island. There comes a time when media consolidation threatens the fundamental standards of our democracy. On Long Island, that time is now.

Jaci Clement

Executive Director, Fair Media Council

Briarcliffe College

Bethpage, N.Y.