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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cable Calls for TV Industry Reform

American cable firms are calling for sweeping reform of the broadcasting industry, alleging that the current laws have not kept pace with changes in technology or the entertainment industry. The call comes after numerous programming blackouts in large areas, when companies such as News Corp blocked cable subscribers from viewing content and cable channels to coerce carriers (Cablevision, in the case of the latest flap with News Corp, which blocked Cablevision subscribers' access to Fox Networks and programming) into paying more for rights to carry said programming.

Technically speaking, it's called "extortion." In a very direct sense, News Corp withheld goods/services from the end consumer -- who had already satisfied his financial responsibilities -- by denying those goods/services to the transmitter (Cablevision). A spokesperson for News Corp said that broadcast TV would cease to exist if cable companies refuse to pay more for rebroadcast rights. Spokespersons for the broadcast companies in general have also loudly panned online, one-time transmission fees as unprofitable.

Broadcasters are saying, "Do it our way or don't do it at all." What makes it even more frustrating, in one sense, is that the broadcasters really don't have much of a leg to stand on here. By forcing cable companies to continually increase prices, they are forcing away customers both established and new, and these potential subscribers will turn to the DVD market, as well as online torrenting and sharing sites. In short, no one is happy and no one is making money.

This kind of "power play" hurts everyone and is the final, dying gasp of a bloated, outdated, wasteful, and flatly corrupted industry. Every guild, group, and company has wound-up fighting tooth and nail to try and change the industry's attitudes toward online distribution and modeling to little effect; in such times, an appeal to higher powers seems prudent.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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