Funny How Anti-Regulation Telco Buddy Kevin Martin Is Pro-Regulation When It Comes To Cable

from the should-have-sang-happy-birthday-louder dept

December’s almost here, and with it, comes FCC chair Kevin Martin’s birthday (December 14th, for those who care). This might not seem like a big deal to many, but it was just a couple years ago that a bunch of telco execs got together to sing Martin happy birthday just as he announced a bunch of policy positions that seemed to support the telcos’ every wish. What’s most amazing is that whenever he’s pushed on telco issues, Martin likes to claim that he’s against regulations — but when it comes to companies that the telcos compete with, he’s suddenly much more open to regulations. So, it should come as no surprise that the cable companies (who apparently forgot to send Martin a birthday cake) are about to wake up to a different world order, as Martin plans to make use of a loophole in the law to start regulating the cable companies — including putting serious restrictions on growth. Now, there’s no denying that the cableco’s have a cushy position, which they all too often abuse. However, especially with the rise of satellite TV and IPTV, more competition is reaching the market. In the end, this move sounds like not just a way for Martin to hurt the cable companies, but also a way for him finally to force them to offer a la carte channel choices, a favorite of Martin’s for years, not because of the importance of more choice, but because it could lead to more family friendly programming. It could very well be that regulation makes the most sense for the cable industry — but it’s hard to see how Martin can claim equal treatment of his friends in the telco industry, who he lets merge with abandon, while telling the cable companies they can’t do the same.

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Companies: comcast, fcc, time warner

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Comments on “Funny How Anti-Regulation Telco Buddy Kevin Martin Is Pro-Regulation When It Comes To Cable”

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20 Comments
Triax says:

Re: Re: USA cable is absolutely insanely expencive

“If movies and TV are too expensive, don’t buy them. Kinda like the whining I hear about “nothing good on TV”, to which I reply, “If you don’t like what’s on TV, turn it off”.”

This argument of “deal with it or leave” is used way to often and is NEVER valid (in the US). The answer to a problem is not simply to look the other way. If you like paying $200 a month for cable and think it’s fair, fine. You are most likely in the minority and shouldn’t use a canned argument to justify what many see as an outrageous pricing scheme. Cable service has become increasingly expensive even as cable companies have found new sources of revenue without providing any noticeable improvement of service for the past 15 years or longer. Many channels have been added and we now have DVR’s and HD, but I see this more as a natural progression to keep them competitive with new technologies. We shouldn’t see this price increase and simply accept it but challenge the companies on their bottom line and demand fair pricing. If you don’t like someone’s opinion of the situation why don’t you simply stop reading instead of putting up a comment that is altogether rude and uninformed?

SP says:

"hurt the cable companies..."

Umm… Why does this article sound like it’s in support of the cable monopolies that are charging us $60 a month for BASIC CABLE? It’s about time the big greedy cable co’s get “hurt.” There’s a bill we’re trying to get passed in WI that will allow for smaller cable companies to rise up, forcing some competition…which will force giants like Time Warner to lower their insane prices in order to keep all their customers from fleeing to the cheaper offerings. I hope the bill passes. I refuse to pay $200 a month for crappy quality TV and Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Keep in mind, the telco and cable companies are pretty much in the same consumer business now. The regulation, if any, should be applied broadly to both industries.

@TX CHL Instructor – Bad analogies make for bad debates. The point that “Discovery CH” was trying to make is that cable is OVERPRICED not expensive. Honestly the cable bill rises much faster than the inflation rate and don’t get me started on what is offer to us here in the US as opposed to what a lot of EU is privy to.

Anonymous Coward says:

“However, especially with the rise of satellite TV and IPTV, more competition is reaching the market.”

Rubbish. *If* satellite is even available (which for many of us it isn’t, due to satellite placement problems), that just gives two mediocre choices – hardly “competition”, since the cable industry overcharges so badly that the satellite industry can get away with doing almost as badly.

As for IPTV – where does the pipe come from? That’s right, either the cable or phone company, both of whom are allowed to get away with disconnecting people on supposedly “unlimited” plans, for the sin of merely having used the service. IPTV won’t be a true competitor until telcos and cable companies are not allowed to use the word “unlimited” in advertising while cutting off people’s connection for having used a limited amount of bandwidth.

Harold Feld (user link) says:

Why the problem

As someone who has worked my ass off for the last 8 years to — among other things — try to reign in cable market power, I’m a little surprised to see how people are rushing to the defense of the cable cos.

Martin’s “picking” on cable cos has been actually enforcing the outstanding laws against them that previous FCC’s gave them a free ride. This is a bad thing? Oh, Martin has other motives, like pushing cable to do his family programming. And your point is? Sure, politicians act from a combination of motives, pure and impure. But why make it harder to get a good result just because you’d rather Martin was also cracking down in other places.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why the problem

You speak of working your ass off, albeit getting paid… How about those who have worked just as hard and lose to the FCC’s whim’s of dereg of ILEC’s and be shut out of the broadband business?

Where was the FCC both former and current enforcing the TA 96, instead of just bowing down to the RBOC’s politcal cash and lobbying poundings and granting forebearance like it was holiday candy?

Jamie says:

Martin almost universally advocates the removal of regulatory oversight, claiming the usually conservative claptrap that the government isn’t capable of doing anything right (when it is always simply about serving the interest of large corporations).

In this case, Martin is doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons.

The author of the article is pointing out Martin’s hypocrisy and poor track record at any legitimate oversight. Martin used to be a lobbyist for the telcos and now he serves at their beck and call. Verizon doesn’t want net neutrality? The government must remove extremely successful regulation. Verizon wants to hurt the cable companies? It’s time for regulation.

That’s all there is to it.

Anonymous Coward says:

The FCC Should Have Nothing to Do With Cable

It should be the FTC regulating it, with oversight by the now-defunct Congressional OTC.

But since the difference between airwaves receivable by any common device in the home and cable received by choice has become a moot point, I’d just like to say I hate the idea of a la carte. You will too as soon as a channel you and only a few others enjoy suddenly can’t get enough revenue to operate. Comedy Central bundled with FitTV helps keep FitTV on the air. If FitTV gets 100 subscribers in an area of 100,000, it’s gone in favor of MTV9 or something. And so will your choice be to maybe one day click over and see what it’s all about.

Henry says:

Cable cos.

I agree there should be cable regulations. Don’t blame the cable cos though. The cable cos are really not raking in the money — they are paying most of it back out to the likes of Viacom who will tell the cable co “You MUST put all these channels on basic, and here’s what you will pay for them”, with the threat of cutting off Scifi, Comedy Central, MTV, etc. for those who don’t comply. My local cable co is fighting right now with Big Ten Network; the cable co wants to put them on a sports tier where they belong, Big Ten says “no, you must put it on basic, and pay $3 per subscriber for the privilege.” Guess what? That will make the bill increase another $2 or $3.

I’m honestly surprised that no cable company is supporting regulation — providing channels ala carte will be a PITA for them, but it’ll break the hold the channel providers have over the cable cos, since this would presumably free the cable cos from having to just have “basic” “expanded basic” and “digital” tiers and put channels on them they don’t want to.

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