NCTC should accept telcos

The National Cable Television Cooperative is expected to begin accepting new service provider members in January 2009, after putting a moratorium on new members three years ago. The NCTC reportedly closed its doors to new members because of the possibility that telcos just starting out in the TV business would want to join to gain access to the programming deals the NCTC negotiated with the content industry on behalf of its members. Because those telcos represented a competitive threat to the traditional NCTC membership, the agency instead decided to take some time to review its membership policies.

The moratorium on new members will be lifted in a few months, but the NCTC is not saying yet what its policy will be for accepting new members who are telco IPTV providers. Some of the small telcos who would have benefited from NCTC membership in the past have since been able to benefit from IP Prime, the content program devised by the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative and SES Americom. So, perhaps not as many telcos would be interested in the NCTC now.

However, if the NCTC's goal is to get the best possible content deals for its member companies, they should not only open membership to telcos, but should actively woo them. The greater scale that could be achieved by the NCTC would allow them to get better deals, while also making the association a more relevant agency at a time when cable TV firms and telcos are very much in the same businesses. The result will be that small service providers of all kinds will be able to provide the content their customers want without having to pay too much for that opportunity. The competitive jealousies and squabbles that might arise from the situation are best left for the market to resolve, rather than a closed door.

-Dan

For more:
- see this story at Telephony

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IP Prime went live about one year ago

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