Books, news, entertainment merge

The Economy article ``Players Gather Under One Roof,'' Jan. 24, quotes experts saying that because there is no monopoly created, the Paramount/Viacom merger ``should not concern the public or lawmakers.''

There is an aspect of such deals, however, that should concern everyone: control of book publishing and newsmaking by fewer and fewer persons.

At the National Council of Teachers of English convention last November in Pittsburgh, Paramount Publishing included Prentice Hall, Silver Burdett Ginn, and Globe Fearon. Since then, other publishers have come under the control of megacompanies such as Time Warner. Decisions about what gets into and remains in print, as well as what is taught in school textbooks, are being made by entertainment and communications executives whose interests are most likely not literary or unbiased. Moreover, they often own the bookstores that sell their products and the networks that interview the authors on news shows (which seem more entertaining than informative). Is this the beginning of thought control in America? Ernie Karsten, Berkeley, Calif.

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