by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 12th 2007 6:47pm
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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