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FCC Moves To Regulate Cable TV Competition

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the see-your-60-and-raise-you-10 dept.

Television 104

explosivejared writes "The Federal Communications Commission is likely to impose a new regulation on the largely unregulated cable television industry, the first of what may be more to come. Under a proposed rule circulating at the FCC, cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have to slash the price they charge smaller television programmers to lease access on spare cable channels, a move the FCC says would open up cable viewers to a wider diversity of shows. In addition, the FCC is contemplating a national ownership cap that would prevent one company from having more than 30 percent of all cable subscribers." TechDirt has a jaundiced view of FCC chairman Martin's animus against the cablecos.

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Why is this a federal issue? (5, Interesting)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333189)

The problem is that individual municipalities have been selling cable monopolies for decades... and in the old days, it used to be the case that no one cable company would get all of a particular large city, to ensure at least some semblance of competition. These days, they've all merged into one (in Philadelphia, at least).

What I think might be interesting is to decouple the wire from the service provider. Think about electricity deregulation: the transmission is seperate from the generation, and while everyone has to pay for the transmission (since we don't want overly redundant infrastructure), individuals can choose their generation source. The disadvantage here, as seen in the electrical case, is that there are more places to nickel-and-dime consumers. However, done with cable systems, we might actually have enough diversity of service offerings that it makes sense.

--
Educational microcontroller lab kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (5, Informative)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333261)

What I think might be interesting is to decouple the wire from the service provider

They do have something like that in Utah called Utopia. Here's the link: http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/may06/3434 [ieee.org]

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (2, Interesting)

Jorgandar (450573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333447)

Good point. I think this fundamentally is another text-book case of a natural monopoly.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly [wikipedia.org]

The wire is a monopoly, that is, as it should be. The content provider is an example of almost perfect competition (just like the internet). But what is needed is the government to step in to provide such regulation to decouple the wire from the content.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333689)

I fully agree with that sentiment, but taking that step leads to one obvious problem:
Who pays to maintain the wire, and who's job is it to do the maintaining?

Roads are publicly funded. Should the telecom physical layer do the same? Should property taxes also apply to data transmission lines?

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (2, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334133)

The data transmission lines would be funded the same way as the electricity grid.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21342407)

Excellent. I hadn't even thought of that. Good call, mate.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

WhiteDragon (4556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339463)

Roads are publicly funded. Should the telecom physical layer do the same? Should property taxes also apply to data transmission lines?
There are such things as privately funded roads. Here is one example [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21342357)

You think the last mile problem is bad with telecom, you try it with asphalt. There's no way a privately held company would maintain anything other than a freeway or bridge.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#21340837)

Who pays to maintain the wire
The customers either directly to those who operate the wire or indirectly via those who sell services on the wire.

and who's job is it to do the maintaining?
an entity which is regulated to ensure that their ONLY responsibility is to maintain expand and operate the physical infrastructure. Probablly a nonprofit set up by local government would make most sense.

Roads are publicly funded. Should the telecom physical layer do the same? Should property taxes also apply to data transmission lines?
Public funding may be nessacery to cover the startup costs if it is not feasible to wrestle the existing infrastructure from those who currently use it to further other monopolies/cartels but once running I would imagine the ongoing costs could be covered easilly enough by usage fees.

Roads are different because thier use is very hard to meter and pretty much everyone uses them (though to different degrees) so it makes sense to charge local roads to local property owners through property taxes.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333647)

Big surprise, you're saying Comcast owns all of Philadelphia? Wow, that's so surprising considering how they own the city in many more ways than cable connectivity.

Also, your subject seems to be fairly contradictory to your whole post. As clearly stated in the US Constitution, interstate commerce - which clearly applies when, for example, CA gets a significant amount of electricity, natural gas, etc. from not only NV, CO, and WA, but also Canada - is the realm of the Federal government.

So yes, cable TV, Internet access, and electricity - these are clearly Federal issues.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334145)

The downside to the electricity market being the way that it is is that the generators are not located where the consumers are. So you have to have miles of high voltage transmission lines to get the electricity from the producer to the consumer. (which leads to blackouts). Thankfully that would not be the case with cable TV.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21337461)

The downside to the electricity market being the way that it is is that the generators are not located where the consumers are. . . Thankfully that would not be the case with cable TV.

You know we don't all live in California. Some of us live a long ways from where TV is produced.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345893)

But unlike TV, sending electricity over long distances requires big huge high-voltage cables and wires. Evidence from some of the large blackouts of recent history suggests that they spread because more electricity was flowing down high voltage lines than they could handle and they failed which lead to further cascade failures and so on.

You dont have that problem with TV or internet content.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

Palpitations (1092597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334231)

What I think might be interesting is to decouple the wire from the service provider.
I could not agree more! Here, Time Warner is the only cable provider... If you choose to go with cable, you're basically screwed. In this area, Time Warner doesn't even carry FOX... I'm only missing out on The Simpson's - and it's not like FOX has much to offer, but that's a pretty major network to just say "nope, sorry, you don't get it no matter how much you pay!"

Open up the wires, and find a way to fairly charge those who use it for repairs... Tax consumers for the upkeep if need be, require the companies to pay a percentage of the upkeep cost based on how many subscribers they have, but please - can we break up the local monopolies? Sure, cable company X may only have Y% of the total national market, but if you can't get service from anyone else they're as good as a monopoly as far as you're concerned.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334613)

I'd like to know where you live that Time Warner doesn't offer FOX. I have Comcrap, but I have friends and relatives with TW Cable in other parts of the country. They *all* get FOX as part of the *basic* Cable package.

You're either trying to be tongue in cheek and failing, you're spreading FUD, or TW is even more screwed up that I'd thought. I'd like to see proof to show just which one of the above fits your post best.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

HomeLights (1097581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334659)

Agreed. We *used* to have Tiem Warner and they carried FOX. They were replaced with BrightHouse and they carry FOX too. Not sure where FOX would not be available.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

Palpitations (1092597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335223)

Time Warner doesn't have FOX in the Pullman, WA and Moscow, ID area... Pullman is home to Washington State University. Moscow is home to the University of Idaho.

I dealt with Comcast in Portland, OR for quite some time... As much as I hated them, they are 1,000,000% better than Time Warner.

As far as not getting FOX? Take a look at KAYU [wikipedia.org] . If you're in the right place you can get it with an antenna or satellite, otherwise you don't get it at all in this area. The area I live in is basically a bunch of hills... I can't pick up a single HD channel on the antenna I picked up, I don't get more then local channels on the giant antenna that's in the attic here. It's basically cable, sat, or nothing.

How do you "open the wires"? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334837)

Comcast invested X billion dollars rolling out that wire network, on the expectation it will earn them X*Y billion dollars in revenue. How can the government come along and usurp the wires from Comcast without paying up that X*Y billion dollars?

Yes yes the wires were on public land blah blah - but I don't see the government forking out that cash to build their own competitive network.

Re:How do you "open the wires"? (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335831)

It's not like the government is going to roll in with the National Guard and seize the cables as national property. The United States is not Cuba or Venezuela. "Opening the wires" simply means that cable companies have to allow other people access to use their cables, for the same price they charge themselves internally. The infrastructure still has value, and the company still gets a return on their investment in the form of other companies' access and lease payments. Right now, you can't get access to most cable provider's wires at any price.

People harp on and on about this point, believing that the government is going to let one company use another company's infrastructure for free. But they forget that when AT&T was broken up in the 80s, the same thing was done with the phone lines. Start up telco companies paid the Baby Bells for access to the phone lines. The telco's didn't own the wires - they were paying the same rate that the Baby Bells charged themselves internally - but they were still able to make a profit while undercutting the Bells by offering a better service than the Bell's service at a better rate. It's a decoupling of the provided service from the infrastructure.

This sort of open access - allowing anyone who can pay to have access to the infrastructure - is an essential thing to understand with the upcoming 700 MHz auction.

Re:How do you "open the wires"? (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336555)

It's not that hard, regulate the returns on their investment with a "transmission" portion of the cable bill, and then allow them to select channels (similar to long distance carriers) as a separate service (billed by the cable company). If the cable companies don't adopt the model on their own, the open nature of the internet will provide it soon enough anyway (ABC/ESPN/Disney are beginning to offer proto-channels over the interent). Cable interent fees are effectively cover the network (and allow you access to select the content you would like delivered over that network).

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

ari wins (1016630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334473)

The problem, as I understand it, is that the cableco's have invested a lot of money into the creation of the infrastructure, and I can't see how it's fair to stop them from using their investment to make a profit. Don't get me wrong, if I could get ala carte programming I'd have less than 10 channels, and if FIOS was available in my area I'd dump cable before you could say "throttled upload speeds". But I don't see how an idea like yours would ever make it to law.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334921)

They would make more of a profit from me, if I could choose to receive international/documentary/science channels while not having to pay for junk/drunk/porn channels at the same time. Even after cancelling the higher tier bundle to avoid these channels, they are now reappearing/rechanneling on the freeview tier.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (2, Interesting)

ph4s3 (634087) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334603)

compumike (454538) on Tuesday November 13, @12:37AM, said
What I think might be interesting is to decouple the wire from the service provider. Think about electricity deregulation: the transmission is seperate from the generation, and while everyone has to pay for the transmission (since we don't want overly redundant infrastructure), individuals can choose their generation source. The disadvantage here, as seen in the electrical case, is that there are more places to nickel-and-dime consumers. However, done with cable systems, we might actually have enough diversity of service offerings that it makes sense.
Best idea ever. The same should be done on the telco side too, and very nearly has with CLECs and unbundled network element requirements. The physical layer is a natural monopoly that should have a regulated rate of return; the services layer is not and should be open to all comers. I think this would be the only way to push this country ahead of the rest of the world regarding connectivity - decouple cable and telco from their physical layer so you've got two distinct platforms to reach the home, three if you include wireless.

I think it's actually redundant to have the two infrastructures and more could be done with a single infrastructure, but I think the competition is good and each will push the other forward in technology. It's probably wasteful to maintain two networks, but I can't see this country's politicians actually choosing who would operate the single infrastructure or ever regulating it well enough so as to force innovation in that single network -- note how much telco innovation came post-breakup of Ma Bell.

No monopolies (1)

KayElle (914547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334733)

There are no monopoly licenses given out by municipalities, federal law prevents that and has for some time. Most areas have defacto monopolies, but that is due to the free market forces that make it overly expensive to "overbuild" except in highly dense "early adopter" wealthy suburbs.

Re:No monopolies (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335465)

Maybe not now, but I can remember when the first franchises were awarded, and they were exclusive. It was also a catalyst for gross corruption in local government. The money train was coming to town, and most local politicians were eager to jump on board. Those early system builders enjoyed decades worth of monopoly rents, with no real threat of competition.

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

OMEGA Power (651936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336459)

Think about electricity deregulation: the transmission is seperate from the generation, and while everyone has to pay for the transmission (since we don't want overly redundant infrastructure), individuals can choose their generation source.

And we all know how well [wikipedia.org] electricity [washingtonpost.com] deregulation [state.ny.us] worked out [usatoday.com] for consumers [csmonitor.com] , right? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why is this a federal issue? (1)

mtmra70 (964928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338683)

Odd. In my town (and all the surrounding areas I know of) you have no choice as to who provides your power, gas or cable. It's pretty much if you live in X area, Y and Z are the providers. Telco is the only one where you get a choice; and even then, some areas are 'AT&T only'.

Freedom. (2, Interesting)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333239)

What we need is less government regulation and more freedom. Businesses should duke it out, and consumers should be mindful of what is happening and vote with their dollars when making purchasing decisions for products and services. I know that in many areas, Cable TV is monopolized, but nowadays with DirecTV and whatever satellite services, not to mention the Internet, also not to mention the option to avoid wasting time in front of the television set, it's not so important that the government needs to waste resources regulating this stuff. Remember: Whenever the government does something, it will be more expensive, less efficient, and less effective than if the same thing were done by private citizens or business.

Re:Freedom. (1)

Soporific (595477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333291)

But I think the question is, how does a business get into the cable market without just actually purchasing the whole cable company. It's not like Cox, Comcast, Adelphia, etc. are allowing anyone to even attempt to sell cable in their cities. DirecTV and DSL don't seem to have anything on a solid cable line yet, so while it is technically a competing business IMHO they both suck in comparison.

~S

Re:Freedom. (1)

rockout (1039072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333473)

It sounds like you're bashing reliability of DirecTV vs. the "solid" cable line - my own experience, with Cablevision in NJ, is the opposite. I got rid of cable because of frequent outages (and literally days that it took them to fix the outage in one case), and in the 4 years that I've had DirecTV, I think I've been watching all of twice when weather interfered with my viewing, and for a matter of less than an hour.

As an added side benefit, when I got an HDTV, I found out DirecTV's HD is vastly superior to cable's, which I've found out since has to do with how much compression is applied to HD video by cable.

Saying the satellite guys "suck" in comparison would seem to me an overstatement at best and outright false at worst, and honestly, I haven't met anyone with satellite that complains about reliability - that FUD seems to me to originate mostly from cable companies in ads aimed at keeping their current, unsuspecting customers.

Re:Freedom. (2, Interesting)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334429)

We need less regulation, absolutely. The way it is currently you have to lobby every little municipality to get the right to lay your cables, and of course the other companies can lobby against you if they are already established. These so-called natural monopolies are a joke. They prevent all competition and your cable bill is all the higher. Same happens with internet. You have one or two big players (cable and DSL), and that's it. Verizon and other companies are spreading their fiber optics, but every little town needs to be lobbied to bring in their service, and of course your Comcast and your Time Warner or whatever put as much pressure as possible to keep out the competition. Less regulation will be better for everyone.

Sure, you won't have sleepy little towns in the middle of nowhere getting 500 channels (half of which are public access or community channels, of course), but oh wait, they already do. Whatever benefits regulation promised were one-time things and those benefits are now irrelevant. Let more players into the market.

Re:Freedom. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21333503)

... The "invisible hand" of the unregulated free market should be classified with the flying spaghetti monster.

Re:Freedom. (-1, Offtopic)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333595)

Government provided healthcare is, on average, less expensive and more effective than private health care. The jury is still out on efficiency, but you don't see Canadians waiting 5 hours to get treatment in an emergency room.

Americans pay more taxes per capita to insure 30% of our population than most countries with nationalized healthcare pay to insure 100% of their population. American healthcare has introduced layers of bureaucracy that are specifically designed to deny people care.

The profit motive is not a panacea. It's great in most circumstances, but sometimes it makes for a massive mess, especially when you get into a situation when a few huge companies control an entire market. This "vote with your dollars" thing only works if your choice is better than a douchebag or a turd sandwich.

Re:Freedom. (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334069)

What we need is less government regulation and more freedom.

Uh huh.

Businesses should duke it out

So in my area, Comcast will duke it out with... themselves?

and consumers should be mindful of what is happening

If by "consumers" you mean people, not going to happen... ever

vote with their dollars when making purchasing decisions for products and services.

Vote? Decisions? As in, choose Comcast, choose no lifeline, or move to another state?

I know that in many areas, Cable TV is monopolized

Yeah. Most areas I've seen. A lot of large cities don't have DSL either.

Remember: Whenever the government does something, it will be more expensive, less efficient, and less effective than if the same thing were done by private citizens or business.

Mostly true, except I think the government would be more effective at providing cable than a private citizen such as myself. However it is beside the point. Government regulation and government provided services are different. If we had multiple cable companies in an area, we could have competition in the business sector, and people could decide what services they want, how much they can afford, and who they don't mind supporting. Competition is essential for a free market.

Re:Freedom. (2, Interesting)

rainman_104 (591178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334365)

What we need is less government regulation and more freedom.
I actually like the 30% cap the FCC wants to put in place. Sometimes consolidation hurts consumers. If all cable providers consolidate to a monopoly, don't you think it'd move to do a bunch of crap like buy off Congress to preserve their monopoly, or even worse buy up any small business that tries to move into the market to compete?

Monopolies aren't always good for consumers and the FCC makes a move to prevent a monopoly, and IMO that's not the worse thing the FCC has done in recent years.

Re:Freedom. (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335679)

Freedom for business - Like Standard Oil or Microsoft means a monopoly that sells for the highest the market will bear, government intervention should be limited in this case to preventing monopolies so competition drives down prices

This seems to be all about local government selling exclusive contracts so forming a local monopoly, thus the price and quality of service has no competition, a higher layer of government needs to regulate this to stimulate competition so the local provider has a reason to provide a decent service at a reasonable price ...

Re:Freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336077)

Whenever the government does something, it will be more expensive, less efficient, and less effective than if the same thing were done by private citizens or business.
That is what big business has wants you to believe! Go you really belive that oil prices would be higher if controlled by the government? A perfect example is broadband, compare the speed and rates here in the US to government controled broadband in other countries. Also look at health care, which is getting less affordable and lower quailty. (Yes I know the insurance companies will tell private health care is better, but I've never heard of a country voting out a government health care system) That's just on the Federal level, has an individual you have much more impact on a local government than you would a large business. Usually governments do the jobs that business won't because they can't make a profit. On average they are less expensive, more efficient, and more effective then private business. They have to be or you can vote to elimate the service. The CEO's that make hundreds of millions in salary don't want you to know that, however. They want to keep government out of their profit pits.

Good Regulation Promotes Competition (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336095)

What we need is less government regulation and more freedom. Businesses should duke it out, and consumers should be mindful of what is happening and vote with their dollars when making purchasing decisions for products and services.

For competitive industries like retail and restaurants, that's exactly how it should work. However, cable is a natural monopoly or at best an oligopoly. Without sufficient competition, the customer will get screwed. Furthermore, it'd be rather difficult to go laying copper everywhere without some cooperation from the local government.

The (almost) proper analogy here is the financial services industry, which is highly regulated yet fiercely competitive. The regulation of that industry is good because it promotes competition. Compare that to the regulation of the medical industry which has choked off the supply of service providers and makes switching providers very inconvenient.

Because it would be inefficient to have two sets of wires going to each house, some type of regulation is required to make up for the lack of competition. As has already been suggested, the most appropriate and obvious solution is to decouple the physical layer from all network layers above it. Thus, the physical layer could be handled by the designated and regulated monopoly or, dare I say, socialized, while all network layers above could be opened to competition.

Re:Freedom. (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 6 years ago | (#21339935)

"Whenever the government does something, it will be more expensive, less efficient, and less effective than if the same thing were done by private citizens or business."

And how, praytell, do you think an up-and-coming cable company is going to get into the business without eminent domain? You don't just need your customer's permission to dig up their property and lay their cable, but also each and every property owner between your customer and your distribution center. All it takes is for one to say "no" or at least charge the company more than the customer is willing to bear for the right to cross that property for the whole thing to fall through.

Cripple the industry? (4, Funny)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333243)

Is that a euphemism for not raping their customers?

Re:Cripple the industry? (1)

RancidMilk (872628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334509)

"Is that a euphemism for not raping their customers?"

No, it is a euphemism for not raping more than 30% of the market. Which sucks, because we only have two providers of cable. That means that 40% of the possible market has to go without. Or does it mean 30% of the remaining... or 30% of that.... I think that means that if you don't have 4 providers, than no one can have cable. I hate it when the gov'ment gets involved.

dupe! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21333251)

Can the site authors please check for dupes? This was just posted:

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/10/1141211 [slashdot.org]

A Wider Diversity Of Shows? (2, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333285)

From TFS:

Under a proposed rule circulating at the FCC, cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have to slash the price they charge smaller television programmers to lease access on spare cable channels, a move the FCC says would open up cable viewers to a wider diversity of shows
Am I the only one that doesn't see a problem with the current "diversity"? We have 300+ channels of everything imaginable, including plenty of channels that have no right existing (*cough* G4 *cough*). Is anyone trying to create a channel today, and finding their limiting factor is the cost to get space on the cable networks, as opposed to the costs of making decent programming?

I suppose this change will make The Reality TV Rerun Channel cheaper to provide, but I've never seen any evidence that the limiting factor is anything other than convincing people to watch your channel over 299 others they already get.

Re:A Wider Diversity Of Shows? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333445)

the higher financial bar doesn't translate into better programming, as you said- 300 channels and very few of them are worth watching. the more channels that are able to be aired should be a good thing if it was combined with a system that lets you choose which shows you want and which you don't rather than getting a big package of mostly garbage just to watch a few good shows.

I suppose this change will make The Reality TV Rerun Channel cheaper to provide
I don;t think those kind of shows made by very large media companies qualify as being limited in their finances. They shouldn't be benefiting from these proposed rules at all- that's the whole point of the rules- not to benefit the companies that are already filthy rich but the ones that could offer something original to watch if only they could be aired. although I highly doubt any of this will actually happen, big companies have a lot of lobbying power- certainly enough to make this change in fcc regulations null and void. perhaps spin it to their advantage somehow...

So what's the catch? (2, Interesting)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333311)

Maybe I am just being cynical, but why is the FCC so interested in this? I've only heard the good stuff about this (cheaper cable, more competition), but there's got to be some downside to this. All I can tell is that the FCC just wants more power - but to do what? I have Comcast, and despite the general hate for them on net I've been fairly satisfied with the service, but the price keeps edging up every year.

I'm kind of locked in to Comcast because my condo fees pay for group rate basic cable for the building (I know the FCC passed something about apartment buildings lately and I have not looked into it). I can get an ugly dish on my balcony, but I am basically throwing away money in condo fees if I am not using Comcast. I'm sure if having an option to go to another cable company or dish would be that great if it means the building loses the volume discount.

Re:So what's the catch? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21333455)

> All I can tell is that the FCC just wants more power - but to do what?

For the people who sit on its committees to be able to extract more money from the cable industry's lobbyists.

FCC: "We're going to give the consumer what they want"
Cable lobbyists: "Nooooooooo! DO NOT WANT!"
FCC: "Like we said. Nice monopoly. Shame if something happened to it."
Cable lobbyists: "Name your price."
FCC: "$100 billion dollars."
Cable lobbyists: "Too much. We can buy enough Congressmen to replace all of you for less than half that much."
FCC: "True. So now that the polite preliminaries are over, let's negotiate a fair price."
Cable lobbyists: "Deal."

Re:So what's the catch? (1)

Squarewav (241189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333501)

In a nutshell you can only send so much data over cable lines. splitting the band-with of the lines will eventually end up in a situation ware you are forced to subscribe to two companies to get all the channels you want. as we move more and more to high-def the less and less band-with (i.e. channels available to each service) will be available

Re:So what's the catch? (1)

Ender77 (551980) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337725)

Censorship? Perhaps this is their way to get the foot in the door so they can start censoring channels like hbo/showtime/cinemax...etc.

More important (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333347)

How about requiring 30% to be good programming and limiting utter crap to 30%. Obviously it'd be best a 100% good programming but that appears to be unrealistic.

What they need, Butthead, is a cool channel. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333403)

Where they only run cool stuff.

The other channels would be to hold all the crap.

Re:More important (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333499)

Boy, I know I'd sure love to be subject to what you think is good programming. The last thing I want is to be able to decide what I like for myself from a wide variety.

Titties (-1, Offtopic)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333355)

Hope you got your fill of titties in cable movies, because the FCC will make all cable TV G-rated.

Re:Titties (3, Funny)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333747)

Hope you got your fill of titties in cable movies, because the FCC will make all cable TV G-rated.
All I have to say to that is...

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, CockSucker, MotherFucker, and Tits

Re:Titties (1)

killmofasta (460565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334417)

Mod Parent +1 FUNNY. -quote from George Carlin...

You FORGOT:
Pants-Snake
One-eyed-wonder worm.

Re:Titties (1)

rasputin465 (1032646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334905)

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, CockSucker, MotherFucker, and Tits

Your list is incomplete: you forgot Fart, Turd, and Twat. Actually, apparently the FCC has changed it's philosophy on verbal prohibition [yahoo.com] slightly since George Carlin's routine.

Re:Titties (1)

atraintocry (1183485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21342139)

fcc is not a censorship board. they only impose fines, and they only do so after someone complains. and less people complain ever year.

99% of tv censorship is done by the networks to keep the sponsors happy, not the fcc.

grandparent is laying the fud on thick here.

gasp! (1)

Pvt. Cthulhu (990218) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333405)

forced sharing of business? thats communist! i knew the the FCC was ebil all along!

Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (4, Interesting)

TwoHundredOk (1136131) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333431)

I would be the first one to applaud the break-up of the cable-company monopolies. They seem to make the companies, at least Comcast which I have had experience with, cocky to the point of not caring about customer service, pricing, or competition in general. However, I am having difficulty seeing how the FCC can advocate for the end (or at least modifications) to this monopoly, while allowing heating, water, and electric utility companies to maintain theirs. Is there a differentiation that I am missing?

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (2, Insightful)

Scaba (183684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333495)

I am having difficulty seeing how the FCC can advocate for the end (or at least modifications) to this monopoly, while allowing heating, water, and electric utility companies to maintain theirs. Is there a differentiation that I am missing?

The primary differentiation is that none of those utilities are communication services, and fall out of the purview of the FCC. Besides, around here (Philadelphia), you can buy electricity and "heat" (in the form of oil, electricity or whatever your heating system converts to heat) from whomever you want. You also have the option of changing the heating system you use if you don't like the providers of that form of energy. Water is supplied by the municipality, which is probably an advantage. I'd hate to have to pay premium for "advanced water services," like basic filtering and sterilization.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (1)

TwoHundredOk (1136131) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333569)

If it's a question of scope of their powers, that makes sense. Your point about water utilities is also duly noted.

I'm still a bit uncomfortable with the seeming double standard, however, when comparing cable to the last two. For electricity, in Virginia at least, you can only buy through Virginia Power (that I am aware of). For "heating" you CAN switch your heating system, but wouldn't that be more akin to the difference between dial-up/dsl and cable? If you want one option over the other, you'd have to go through just one company. Again, I guess it's a moot point, since they don't fall under the FCC, but it seems odd to have these two standards. You may ONLY buy electricity through this one company, but we don't like that you have to buy cable ONLY through this one other company.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (2, Informative)

Scaba (183684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333783)

In Philly (well, anywhere PECO services), you can buy power from any number of generating companies, buy you still need to pay PECO delivery charges, as it travels over their lines. Which makes sense, else you'd have power lines from a hundred different companies running through your neighborhood, which more or less used to be the case [eei.org] . In the early days, you had dozens of power companies supplying different electrical needs, using different equipment and voltages and whatnot. The same was true for early phone companies, but it was even worse. So regulation and the formation of a natural monopoly made sense in order to ensure efficient and widespread delivery of power.

I've never seen a home that had heat delivered from a remote provider. Generally, you install some sort of local device that converts some material into heat energy. Most popularly this is either oil or natural gas. Gas delivery is probably a natural monopoly in most places, for the same reason electricity is, but oil is delivered by trucks from any one of dozens of such companies in my area. You are free to choose any one, based on price, which keep the competitive. You could, if you so desired, also create your own heating device that runs off the power of human flatulence or insects moving through its chambers, though I doubt you'd generate sufficient amounts of heat for even a small room. Even with a high-fiber diet.

I think my point is that the only efficient way to ensure universal access to certain utilities is to allow one company have a monopoly on, at a minimum, delivery of said utility. However, television (can TV really be called a utility?) shows can be delivered as efficiently over satellite, cable, fiber or probably even wifi or copper pairs with some of the newer breakthroughs in networking. Of course, I'm getting off point, as the regulations aren't exactly about this issue, but fuck it - it's nearly 4am!

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334547)

Hi... If you are ever in Austria you are welcome to stop by my home for a cup of coffee and a snack. Then I will show you the Fernwärme I use to heat my home. It's quite common actually. There's a large incinerator facility south of the city and they pipe the hot water all over.

Not that this is the only way to heat, but it sure is the least expensive.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335521)

Which makes sense, else you'd have power lines from a hundred different companies running through your neighborhood, which more or less used to be the case. In the early days, you had dozens of power companies supplying different electrical needs, using different equipment and voltages and whatnot. The same was true for early phone companies, but it was even worse. So regulation and the formation of a natural monopoly made sense in order to ensure efficient and widespread delivery of power.
You might be interested in reading "The Myth of Natural Monopoly" by Thomas Di Lorenzo: http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/RAE9_2_3.pdf [mises.org] Personally, I wouldn't mind having a few different providers running cable into my house. I seriously doubt it would really be all that inconvenient. And the added competition could only have the effect of decreasing prices and increasing quality of service. It never makes sense to artificially limit competition when there is no need. And I would say my link demonstrates that there wasn't a need. The following paragraph from the link you posted is very telling:

Early industry leaders began to think that if the franchise granting process and the rates charged by utilities were overseen by a nonpartisan state agency instead of a city council, financing might be easier and cheaper to obtain.
So the main goal of the providers in pushing for state regulation was to make money easier. I don't appreciate people using my tax dollars to line their pockets.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21344229)

The problem with natural monopolies is usually when you allow one company to actually own the infrastructure over which it is delivered(as opposed to merely maintaining on contract a publicly owned infrastructure).

It's inefficient to have multiple telephone lines coming into your house and it stifles competition because every company who wants to deliver you telephone service has to either put in their own infrastructure(expensive) or rent it from an existing provider. That's not to say that being a telco or a gas company, or an electric company isn't expensive in and of itself, but if every one of them had to dig up the streets and put in new pipes, cables, etc then you'd not only never be able to actually get anywhere because everything would always be under construction, but pretty much no one other than the current players could afford to play anyway.

At the same time, allowing a private company to own the infrastructure and be responsible for all costs associated with said infrastructure is equally foolish as you either have to regulate the company in question to the point that they can't control their own business or they tend to overcharge their potential competitors to the point of monopoly.

The ideal solution as far as I can tell is to pay for said infrastructure out of taxes(either local, state, or federal depending on the nature of the infrastructure), and maintain public ownership of said infrastructure. You then charge companies a reasonable access fee for using the equipment(or none if your government is that way inclined) and contract out maintainence and builing of said infrastructure to the company best able to perform these tasks(best value for money).

I know that the idea of the government owning things scares libertarians and some folks who are still afraid of the red menace, but as infrastructure of this type is done essentially for the public good(in addition to providing improved quality of life these services improve land value and productivity therefor increasing tax revenue for the government), private ownership is not really an option(as I've said before, private enterprise does an absolutely terrible job at anything which can't be measured in dollars in income) and public ownership just makes sense.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21345831)

Did you read the link I provided? Natural monopolies are a myth perpetuated as another excuse for government regulation. As Murray Rothbard said:

The very term "public utility" is an absurd one. Every good is useful "to the public," and almost every good may be considered "neces- sary." Any designation of a few industries as "public utilities" is completely arbitrary and unjustified.
Let there be 3-4 cable companies and utilities competing in my area and watch the price drop and customer service increase.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335795)

I used to live in a large housing development in the Washington, D.C. area, composed of many apartment buildings and townhouses, that was connected to a central heating and cooling plant. The federal government uses a similar system for many of their buildings. I would expect a centralized system to be more efficient and less expensive than installing a heating and air conditioning system in every building.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336163)

I've never seen a home that had heat delivered from a remote provider.

Con Ed sells waste heat from its power plants as steam for heating in Manhattan. Kind of a neat trick for efficiency.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt would be proud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21338931)

There are no natural gas lines running through my neighborhood (I don't live in Philly, though I live in the farthest suburb of Philly), as such I can't switch my heating to natural gas, so I'm stuck with forced air/heat pump (which I should not have because the temperatures do get lower than the operating range for a heat pump) Not only do I hate forced air (because the air is so dry, and since there is only 1 zone, heating and air conditioning sucks on the 2nd floor), I hate the heat pump too because the air is far too cold compared to the baseboard heating I used to have in my previous house. (I had a drop down air condition system which is far superior in all respects to the crap air conditioning I have now).

tag: fuckthefcc? (3, Insightful)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333505)

Excuse me for having missed the memo, but why is anti-monopolistic regulation in general or in this particular case a bad thing?

Re:tag: fuckthefcc? (2, Informative)

PWill (1006147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333649)

Because it's immoral.
The Immorality of Antitrust Law [fee.org]

Re:tag: fuckthefcc? (2, Informative)

samweber (71605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334691)

*laugh* Have you even read the missive that you link to? And you do realize that you are arguing against the founders of the USA, don't you?

According to the argument that you linked to, it is immoral to have laws against murder, because such laws restrict the freedom of the murderer. (Which, indeed, they do.) However, society has decided that restricting the freedom of the murder victims outweighs the freedom of murderers. Similarly, restricting the freedom of consumers outweighs the freedom of monopolies.

It is ironic that the site you like claims to be in favor of free markets. The argument in favour of free markets is that they spur innovation and fair prices. Monopolies, however, prevent both.

Re:tag: fuckthefcc? (2, Informative)

rasputin465 (1032646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334793)

Armentano might be an economics professor, but his ideas are by no means accepted as canon by the larger economic community. This includes his idea that regulating monopolies is immoral (which, I might point out, is not an economic stance). His argument rests mainly on one assumption, that corporate regulation works against competition, and competition produces the best goods/services. If this argument were applied to other arenas, it might be true, but it is a fallacy when applied to monopolies. A monopoly is by definition a market where the commodity is controlled by a single entity. In other words, it is the absence of competition. When a corporation constructs a monopoly, they are no longer bound by the rules of the free market, and have much less obligation to maximally satisfy the consumer. Another company will not break that monopoly by simply producing superior products, and so the consumer, lacking the ability to choose, is ultimately who suffers in the end. A government agency stepping in to break that monopoly can stir up the market and provide more choices to the consumer. And that is NOT immoral.

Re:tag: fuckthefcc? (2, Interesting)

electroniceric (468976) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335039)

I'm certainly not opposed regulating monopolistic industries, but the point that the TechDirt article makes is well taken: if there is in fact competition emerging in the tv market, regulation of cablecos now could give a big competitive edge to telcos, and lead to a far more monopolistic situation in cable and broadband when telcos use their favored position to lock up the broadband market.

Regulation shouldn't be undertaken to punish a company or an industry, particularly not at the behest of a competitor. It should be undertaken to address some market failure that harms consumers and the public. Figuring out what will result in the market that best serves the public and is most competitive is a bit tricky in these kinds of situations, because it requires evaluating trends for the likelihood they'll introduce competition, so there's always some guesswork about things will actually unfold. I think in this situation you have to weigh the likelihood of that competition strengthening against the impact of handing the telcos a competitive advantage.

All that said, to my mind the best answer is to require open access to all the networks, cable, copper, fiber and otherwise. Doubly so because the government footed the bill for a lot of the work to build these networks.

Sounds like a muck creator. (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333521)

This is IMHO yet more legislation that begs more questions. How much smaller is smaller? and what does slashed mean? To make some random guesses, if they are determining size by ad revenue then channels that do not sell ads will make out like crazy. If they do it my ratings, then weirdo ultra niche market stuff will do well. If they do it by company value The televangelists will saturate the airways.

None of these things sound useful to me. Who is it benefiting? Besides televangelists of course.

REDUX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21333581)

How is this not a repeat of the same story that ran over the weekend?

Dark Ulterior Motive to change after decades... (1)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21333793)


This has been dressed up to sound oh-so-sweet and only of good intention, but has a dark ulterior motive...
Simply, the industry does not want those smaller television programmers to turn to other distribution channels, say, oh, like the internet.

So now some think they are oh-so-smart-arsed think tank in an act of preventative-desperation has concocted up a spate of new FCC regulations out of the blue after decades of profiteering, to try save their doomed industry from their own greed. Well fuck them... Expensive media of poor quality pumped one way over a cable is a so last century. Its time for this stuffed full fat couch potato of an industry to roll over, and what we see here is just its death throws...

mod Up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21333933)

FrreBSD used to track 0f where [amazingkreskin.com] project. Today, as

Lather rinse repeat. ( obl) (3, Insightful)

killmofasta (460565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334403)

1. Start cable company
2. Get regulated.
3. Raise prices.
4. Profit.
5. Get unregulated
6. More Profit.
7. GO to 2.

The endless money cycle.
I am looking forward to the price increase.
( So far, it has NEVER failed )

Monty Python's FCC song! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21334593)

This thread isn't complete without a link to the FCC song!

Fuck you very much, the FCC! [pythonline.com]

I hope this also goes for verizons tv (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 6 years ago | (#21334679)

If verizon doesnt have to abide by this also then this is really screwed up. It sounds like they are trying to make verizon a monopoly by screwing over the cable companies.

Serious Deja Vu (3, Informative)

BobGregg (89162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335077)

Wait, wait... the FCC is *thinking* of imposing an ownership cap on cable companies? How can you "think" of an idea you already had?

My understanding was that in the late '90s, there basically already *was* an ownership cap on cable. AT&T's entire strategy through that period was to obtain as much of the cable industry as possible and then to use those facilities as a new local-calling infrastructure, so they could take on the Bells head-on again. I was developing at Bell Atlantic in '99, and we were working on creating CLEC interfaces - I was working directly with the AT&T staff that were trying to establish local competition with BA in New York. AT&T's local services were all facilities-based (i.e. cable), nothing leased from the Bells.

Then they ran into a roadblock. They had been promised by the FCC in merger after merger that nobody would stand in their way. This was AT&T's whole gameplan - to build a brand-new local calling empire based on the cable infrastructure. But once they passed 33% share (I forget who they were going to merge with), the FCC suddenly stood up and said no. AT&T was billions and billions in the hole, and suddenly their whole gameplan was in the garbage thanks to the FCC. It was effectively the end of real competition for the telcos, at least at that time.

At least that's my recollection; I could be wrong. Anyway, it doesn't matter one hill of beans one way or the other whether they limit ownership of cable. Until they start forcing competition to be allowed in each metro market, it's all meaningless. My cable/phone bills are more expensive than ever, with even less choices than I had in the late '90s. It seems like the FCC has been *useless* to the American consumer over the past 10 years.

Re:Serious Deja Vu (1)

jred (111898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337321)

It seems like the FCC has been *useless* to the American consumer over the past 10 years.

Well, not completely useless. They drove Stern to satellite radio, and got Imus off the air for a few months...

Nothing to do ... (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335393)

.. with competition between cable companies for subscribers.

What would really be nice is if cable would be heavily regulated in every location where there are not at least two established players competiting against each other in the *same* market (and phone company vs cable company doesnt count)

In other words... (2, Funny)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335399)

Instead of the 3 local televangelist channels and 1 UFO nutjob channel I'm used to, I'm now going to get another dozen or so of the former and a generous helping of the latter.

Yay!

When the price gets down to zero, let me know (2, Interesting)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335477)

Otherwise, I'm stickin' with my bitchin' antenna -- OTA HD ROCKS!

Let me know when OTA has no ads.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21339473)

Until then, I'll gladly pay $100+ for all the premium channels.

Treat Them All the Same (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335973)

If the FCC, or the government in general, were serious about regulating these cablecos in the public interest, they'd just revise all the laws to treat cable "TV", "phone" and "data" networks all the same. What makes them different is no longer their content, as each of those three kinds of companies deliver the "triple play" of video/voice/data, and therefore the same customers. There might be distinctions among networks that cross state lines, or that have either government contracts specifying special liabilities (eg 911 service operators) or market status (eg monopoly or some subsidy for growth or competition), or perhaps even provided by a government.

But they're all networks. They all have directly comparable service levels, competition requirements, public interest requirements, consumer protections. The distinctions by their content type, even if their media mix is somewhat different, is largely irrelevant. They should all be regulated to ensure they offer the same levels of service in their products, especially as they market those products to the same consumers as being "the same" as their competitors, like TV from the "phone company" or phone from "the cable company" or all of it from "an ISP". And of course the content should be regulated separately from the network access/connection - perhaps even regulated to break up vertical monopolies that currently bundle content and network together.

After the basic rules they can make whatever smaller exceptions are appropriate. Radio broadcasts, including TV and "wireless networks", that use the public airwaves, all can get their special treatment different from that distributed on private wires/fibers. Private wires/fibers that use public rights of way (like in most cities) can have their concessions to the public in exchange for their right of way access. And purely private networks can have their protection from regulation, where that's appropriate, specified. Unrestricted content, like pure broadcast (eg open websites, basic cable) can be distinguished from content requested by adults - which should be largely unrestricted, except where production of that content might violate (non-telecom) laws in force where the content is produced (eg pornography or defamation).

The sum total of all the regulations, even in the "deregulated" modern environment, is now a huge mass that raises operating costs (and therefore prices) by requiring lawyers and bureaucrats at every turn. A reformed legal basis could be much shorter, simpler, and appropriate to the modern age, where tech and marketing has leveled the playing field in a way that is not at all recognizable in current law.

Re:Treat Them All the Same (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336627)

I don't have mod points or I'd have used them on that article.

We're moving closer and closer to the universal invisible media network that's been a staple of SF for decades (the earliest story containing a recognizable world computer network that I've been able to find is Murray Leinster's A Logic named Joe [baen.com] currently available online from Baen Books). As early as 1975 the universal media net was a central part of John Brunner's seminal Shockwave Rider [wikipedia.org] and the much-delayed Dr. Adder by K W Jeter [wikipedia.org] that would have beaten it into print if it hadn't squicked the editors... and later by the novels of William Gibson and Vernor Vinge and others...

And don't dismiss this idea just because it's "science fiction". SF writers are perpetually trolling academia and acting as a channel between academia, industry, and the public: SF is the "glue logic" between technology and culture. The notion of the universal media net became popular in SF because it was becoming seen as inevitable and (usually) desirable by the people who were, one way or another, making it happen. While SF is often radically wrong in detail, and many popular SF visions will never come true, when you can watch them happening around you it's definitely time to pay attention.

Re:Treat Them All the Same (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336937)

SF is technology marketing. It started as the "articles" in radio parts catalog "technoporn", which expanded the catalogs' audience outside those who actually built their own radios. And ever since, it's appealed to people who want to fantasize about science and engineering more than they can actually do it. Which is of course where the culture's overall desires for science and tech come from. SF writers articulate possible worlds, visualizing how we'd live in them. Their biggest audience is science and engineering students, and people who consume their products.

Art in general is the way our society transmits new knowledge about the world and how it works from the discoverers/inventors to the rest of us. SF is art about what we can buy to live the way the stories tell us is possible.

And we've been hearing about universal media networks long enough that we've finally got them. In the case of the "Internet", SF took a lot longer to explain it to us than it was taking to deliver, partly because SF was preoccupied with the rockets that also produced the Internet. Now what we need is a better vision of what we'll become, now that we're actually on that network, and SF has new media in which to work. Someday someone will produce a networked multimedia game that will tell us what the next paradigm will be like. I'm betting on "psychic".

Re:Treat Them All the Same (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337341)

SF is technology marketing. It started as the "articles" in radio parts catalog "technoporn",

Perhaps an unnecessarily jaundiced view, given that popular authors like Wells and Verne had already published quite a few of the novels that created the genre before there was such a thing as radio. :)

Re:Treat Them All the Same (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21338209)

There are precedents all through literary history. But the genre really was defined by those radio catalogs' fiction, which was tied to the prompt appearance of radio serials like Flash Gordon. Wells and Verne prepared the ground, much as Poe's detective stories prepared the ground for mysteries like Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

Re:Treat Them All the Same (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21342599)

I'm not talking about something like deBergerac's fantasies: Wells and Verne were writing the same kind of fiction as Heinlein and Bradbury, and they weren't isolated cases like deBergerac or Swift: Stephenson, Twain, and others all dabbled in the same pond.

Science Fiction is grounded in the Industrial Revolution, it wasn't born in the 20th century. Hell, even teh pulps didn't originate in the '20s, they were already popular by the mid 1800s. Radio wasn't responsible for creating it, any more than it created ... it was a rising tide that raised all genres of "adventure" fiction, but they were launched in Atlantic Monthly and all the Boys Adventure style magazines before Radio existed.

Re:Treat Them All the Same (1)

doom (14564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21346657)

The history of American science fiction clearly begins with Hugo Gernsback and his radio-electronics porn, but if you think Wells and Verne merely "prepared the way" you should probably read more of their stuff. That ain't just proto-SF or some such, it's SF through-and-through.

For that matter, the idea that Poe merely "prepared the way" for the detective story, you're greatly underestimating "Murders in the Rue Morgue", which pinned down nearly every detail of the detective story, right down to the completely absurd "solution" to the mystery. Dupin was the template for nearly every fictional detective until the advent of competition from the hardboiled genre in the mid-1920s.

That would be GREAT! (1)

arhar (773548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336065)

Here in NYC, the cable companies have created a laughable charade to resemble "competition". It works like this: Time Warner and Cablevision have split the city into various districts. Depending on where you live, you can ONLY get either TW or Cablevision. They have exactly the same prices, too!

The only alternative is to get Dish Network.. which is problematic if you live in an apartment. This is total B.S. and I'm glad the FCC is finally doing something about it.

Re:That would be GREAT! (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21344135)

Move.

Why are we still dealing with "TV Channels"? (2, Insightful)

Riskable (19437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336229)

Let's talk about the real problem here: Cable TV channels are a huge waste of bandwidth. I don't care if The Perfect Channel(TM) is on my cable. I want it off. Give me NO channels and let me use that bandwidth for INTERNET ACCESS.

Right now your "Cable Internet" is using up about 10% of your coaxial cable while the other 90% is used to deliver TV channels. What a waste! If the FCC (or Congress) forced cable providers to be CABLE PROVIDERS (as in, they provide the wire and nothing else) then we could all have 100MB+ Internet access with the ability to choose from a nearly infinite array of "channels", P2P-distributed "shows", and any other content we wanted. If they truly want diversity, that is the best way to do it.

Using bandwidth for things other than TCP/IP (or similar protocols) is a waste.

Because it's broadcast (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337047)

Theoretically, at least, it's much more efficient to send the same content to many people at the same time. If everyone in the neighborhood gets the same show at the same time, then they share the bandwidth. If they were all streaming the same content over the Internet you'd find yourself with a smaller remaining share of the total bandwidth for whatever you want to do.

Where the cut-off is, I don't know, but I rather suspect it would take more bandwidth over the last mile than we have now to make it work. Until we have universal fiber from the head-end to the house, we're stuck with the broadcast model.

Re:Why are we still dealing with "TV Channels"? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21341641)

then we could all have 100MB+ Internet access

NO we would not. We would all have 100MB+ NETWORK access, all the way to the head office.

THEN, when it has to leave the cable co.'s lines, we'll have 128kbps INTERNET access.

The only way it could possibly work is if cable companies are required to allow anyone that wants to, to host their server at the cable co.'s HQ, thereby getting full-speed access to the lines.

Then, of course, you're back to the TV model, it just happens to be multicast over IP and harder to steal (by splicing).

Censorship next? (1)

OmegaWolf747 (1131345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21344887)

If the FCC is able to do this, how long before they have the power to regulate cable TV content as they do with broadcast TV? Will no medium be safe from the government's intrusion?
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