Re: a few hugely vertically and horizontally integrated companies
This is a very important point. In Canada, Bell, Rogers, Telus and Shaw own the vast majority of our home phone and cell phone services, internet, cable tv, tv and radio networks except CBC (which their client politicos the Tories were actively killing), almost all of the specialty cable channels, and some of the newspaper chains. When I had to go digital for tv I cut the cable and went OTA (and internet) partly (the other was the constantly increasing costs) because these oligopolies would then know through the digital encryption box what I was watching, when I was watching, and how long. It's too much control of our information sources in too few hands.
A few years ago I worked a lavish employee party Rogers threw for I think their 50th anniversary, so I've seen how much excess $ they have to throw around. Shaw, a cable and internet giant in the West, was able to buy up Canwest Global, a bankrupt tv and newspaper conglomerate, showing where the big profits were being made.