Captive Audience Book Review

Book Review Instructions

As part of the course requirements, you are to write a review of the following book:

Susan Crawford. Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age,

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013, 368 pages. ISBN: 978030015312.

Book Update: Comcast announced on April 26, 2015 that it had dropped its plans to acquire

Time-Warner. Ms. Crawford’s book is widely credited with generating opposition to the proposed

merger among members of the public, politicians, and telecommunications regulators.

The book review should be a minimum of 6 pages and is to be typed (double spaced) and checked for

proper grammar and spelling. Here are some general instructions:

  • The introductory segment should describe the subject matter of the book. What are the

issues under examination in this book? What is the author trying to accomplish?

  • The review should present a coherent and succinct summary of the author’s main


  • Be sure to explain the principle of “common carriage” and the historical importance of

common carriage obligations in transportation, local telephone, and utility services. Should

society impose common carriage obligations on monopolistic suppliers of broadband data

services? Why or why not? Summarize Crawford’s view on this question.

  • A key issue concerns the upstream vertical integration of broadband cable distribution

giants like Comcast into programming or content development. Is what sense was the

Comcast-NBC Universal merger a vertical merger? How is this merger anticompetitive, in

Crawford’s view?

  • After reading Crawford’s book, do you have any views on the proposed merger of Comcast

and Time Warner (Time Warner is currently the nation’s number 2 supplier of high speed

cable services, and also a large cable content provider)?

  • The final segment of the review should summarize your overall impression of the book. Do

you think this is an important book? Has your thinking changed after reading this book?

Would you recommend this book to others?

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