|New FCC Rules Go Back To The Future For Cable Companies
A media critique by Wayne Friedman, Wednesday, August 3, 2011
In addition the FCC doesn’t like those glaringly bad public battles between cable networks and broadcast networks over rates, which force more than a few channels into blackout mode. Consumers don’t know who to side with on those issues.
After decades of big cable operators with financial interests in TV networks ruling the day, TV business deals concerning cable are set to change. While cable operators might complain this hurts business, consumers are still staring in the eyes of ever pricier programming packages and billions in cable industry profits from decades of running near-monopoly businesses.
In 2011, predicted spillage
is everywhere when it comes to the media business. Get 85% of what you intended — especially for a cable operator — and that’s a big success. Perhaps after the FCC dust has settled, it’s that number that will stick.
More than a decade ago, cable operators saw the score — a slow decline of customers from cable’s legacy video businesses. Today cable operators want to be much more than conduits for TV programming and video, more involved in other growing aspects of the electronic consumer: phone, Internet and mobile, to name a few.
You can also blame the FCC in part. It gave somewhat of carte blanche to nascent cable operators in the late ’70s and ’80s to build a businesses, resulting in a near monopoly — only allowing overbuild operators and other competing video operators to join in much later in the process.
Now it wants to go back to the future of sorts. The FCC ruling also includes a “standstill order” where a cable or satellite company must continue to carry an affected channel under terms of the previous contract until the commission offers a ruling on any complaints stemming from a carriage dispute. In other words, no channel blackouts.
And then there are those independent networks looking for a chance to shine on a cable or satellite system. The big question here: How does one really determine why a new independent channel should be considered — especially when it doesn’t have any existing viewer following?
It’s the chicken-and-egg scenario — which will only yield sucky programming decisions.
It’s part of a throwback of sorts to when there was even stronger government regulation of utility-like companies. By comparison, any modern-day business spillage resulting from new FCC rules should calmly be part of the plan for cable TV companies.
New FCC Rules Go Back To The Future For Cable Companies A media critique by Wayne Friedman,