Kremlin media regulation


It has been like lion feeding time at the zoo since FCC Chairman Kevin Martin again used his favorite media, the New York Times, to take the big stick to the cable guys. Martin noted how all other comms costs were falling but not cable which in fact had risen nearly 100 percent in 10 years and that it was time to act. He would do this by enacting a little known regulation which gives the FCC authority to intervene once cable has over 70 percent of the market. Programming would be unbundled and cable would be compelled to take indi programing.

The cheers from the consumer advocates were everywhere, not to mention the smiles down at telco lobby HQ. Cable has been ripping us off and it was about time they got it in the neck was the populist sentiment. But before everyone rejoices Comcast and Time Warner being in the stocks, perhaps it is worth considering if it is a good thing to have the FCC micro-manage the media. After all, the NYT would hardly be impressed if it was ordered to un-bundle the Sunday edition. How many of us want/need the auto section this weekend, not to mention whatever is the latest glossy fashion mag. Nor would Verizon be so excited if it were told to just drop the black fiber at my door stop and I will use it as I like, thanks! And Hollywood would not be pleased if it were told to release its programming to whoever wanted it, whenever, thereby ending the commercially lucrative practice of milking every cent from the consumer by  releasing content through a set of  time-based windows, which inevitably mean the poor punters with only a broadcast TV have to wait last before they get to see a decent movie. Which FCC bureaucrat/friend of the President becomes the Czar of programing and decides who gets what and when has not been announced, but in the meantime it might be worth contemplating if Kremlin style regulation of the media is such a good idea. Tom

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