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(Rick Bragg, IP News, Washington)
International media mogul Scott Ott defended his company's proposed purchase of Google.com, telling lawmakers the deal will not hurt competition nor limit consumer choices.
"This is not anticompetitive," Mr. Ott, chairman and chief executive of ScrappleFace, told a Senate panel.
Critics sharply disagreed during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing. Several argued that the deal, combined with a Federal Communications Commission proposal to lift decades-old media-ownership restrictions, would allow a handful of giant blog operators to control what the nation watches, hears and reads. Additionally, some Senators expressed concerns over accusations in some vague "plagiarism and quote fabrication" scandal recently plaguing Ott and ScrappleFace. During open comments on those charges numerous Ott employees came forward to reveal his behavioral excesses.
Last February Google announced the acquisition of Blogger.com, the nation's largest blog provider, with 1 million subscribers. Ott's lust for Google is apparently fueled by obsessive desire to control so many Blogs.
Mr. Ott told lawmakers that he will improve Blogger by offering more ready-made templates, reliable site availability, enhanced content management and some type of archiving and perma-link system that actually works. Ott denied plans to incorporate "Comments" into Blogspot Blogs. He also ruled out going on a buying spree if the ownership rules are relaxed, telling the lawmakers that he has "no plans for anything other than [the deal] I have before you."
Opponents say that approving the deal would allow Mr. Ott to force Blog operators to link ScrappleFace on their Blogrolls, a practice seldom done in today's blogosphere. If the operators don't comply, Mr. Ott could pull the URLs off Blogspot.
Senator Barbara Boxer (C-CA) was particularly vocal in her opposition to the merger. Her questions focused on the fact that Ott gives the conservative point of view print space on ScrappleFace, adding that "someone on ScrappleFace called France and Germany 'the Axis of Weasels'."
She remarked to Ott, "You've got it all. I mean, what are you going to do with an additional takeover?" Ott responded that he only has 2.8% of the market, however, everyone thought he was just joking and laughed. Comments from at least 100 supporters and detractors followed immediately after every statement made by Ott during the course of the hearing.
The Senate hearing was the last in a series on media consolidation held while the FCC considers whether to lift its ownership-restriction rules, which media executives call outdated. The regulators are scheduled to vote June 2.
"We shouldn't have to rely on a benevolent media dictator for quality blogs," said Gene Kimmelman, senior director of advocacy and public policy for the Consumers Union, an advocacy group that publishes Consumer Reports magazine.
For The Mudville Gazette, RICK BRAGG reporting
Greyhawk, What do you think about some kind of event at Scrappleface for Scott's 1mmth visitor?Posted by Pooke at June 2, 2003 10:21 AM
Wouldn't it be nice if we had some kind of email, signed by the Scrapplegang Regulars? After all, he's not only been entertaining the us but spawned other blogs as well :)Posted by Pooke at June 2, 2003 12:24 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)