from the song-remains-the-same dept
That's why it's more than a little amusing to see the NCTA announce this week that it's eliminating the word "cable" from its branding and overall vernacular, apparently as an attempt to modernize the cable sector's image in the Netflix age. According to a statement by the NCTA, the migration away from even using the word cable (despite coaxial very much remaining in use) is a reflection of "how the marketplace is no longer defined by silos of the past." This is how former FCC boss turned top cable lobbyist Michael Powell explained the shift:
"Just as our industry is witnessing an exciting transformation driven by technology and connectivity, NCTA’s brand must reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our members,” Powell said. “While our mission to drive the industry forward remains the same, our look now reflects a renewed proactive and energized spirit."And by "driving the industry forward," Powell of course means supporting initiatives that do the exact opposite.
Most recently that has included using a massive sound wall of disinformation (including some help from the US Copyright Office and the likes of Jesse Jackson) to demonize attempts to bring competition to the cable box. The NCTA has also been busy working overtime to derail the FCC's attempt to apply some relatively basic privacy protections to the cable sector, has also supported protectionist state laws that hinder broadband competition, and has even fought raising the base definition of broadband to 25 Mbps. "Proactive and energized," indeed.
And while the cable industry is quick to argue it's facing more direct competition than ever before, the reality is notably different. As AT&T and Verizon give up on unwanted DSL customers, it's creating a stronger cable monopoly than ever before in many areas. As cable providers consolidate and their telco competitors crumble, cable is seeing 99% of the broadband net additions each quarter. The end result is a cable industry that intends to take full advantage of this lack of competition to impose draconian usage caps on consumer broadband connections in the hopes of thwarting Internet video competitors like Netflix.
All told it's going to take a lot more than a vernacular change to shift consumer and cross industry perception away from the reality that the cable industry -- and specifically the NCTA -- is an anti-consumer, anti-innovation, antiquated turf protection machine.