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Moore's Lore

April 06, 2004
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Posted by Dana

Multichannel News bills itself as an honest information service to the cable industry.

Bunk. (The picture is of a great stand-up comic named Fat Doctor.)

Instead, they take the industry's prejudices and reflect them onto the news. It's like Fox calling itself "Fair and Balanced" -- the lie is outrageous but the target audience shares the bias so they buy the lie, and thus call real journalism biased. It's a fun-house mirror, one that makes real journalists want to see inside the head of the carnival's owner.

(And before I go any further let me note for the record that most trade publications are the same way. You disagree with your audience's assumptions at your peril, journalistic integrity be damned.)

Here's a great example. It's a story about a federal court decision to require cable outfits to keep wholesaling their data capacity.

That's how I look at it, anyway. But it's not how the industry looks at it, thus not how Ted Hearn looks at it:

"Federal broadband policy took another hit last Wednesday, less than a week after President Bush called for affordable nationwide broadband access by 2007. The setback came in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to allow the Federal Communications Commission to use certain legal standards to shield cable-modem service from potentially intrusive regulation."

The rest is behind their registration firewall, although an alert member of the Dave Farber list posted a longer excerpt, which continues in the same vein.

I wonder sometimes whether people like Hearn even believe what they write. Have they internalized their readers' selfish notions to such a point that they have become their own, or are they just feeding the trolls?

In fact, the courts are fighting an effort by the Bush Administration to end the wholesaling of last-mile services by cable and phone companies. Despite the fact that cable plants were built based on local franchises, granted by government, and low-interest loans made possible by those franchises, the cable giants say "mine." Despite the fact that their plants were built under public regulation, which means a public subsidy, the phone giants say "mine."

And they've got the lawyers, as well as the control of state legislatures, to back 'em up.

Ironically it's in the best interest of both cable and phone companies to wholesale this capacity. If I have several choices on cable modem service, several choices on DSL service, then I'm more likely to choose them over wireless (or a power line offering) than if I have one of each.

It's simple mathematics. Everyone is different. Some of us want controls in our pipe, others a blank pipe. Some of us want to muck around with our own networks, others just want something they can turn on and use. There are all sorts of preferences within each market. Finding and serving niches is what the market does best.

But if you just have two choices -- the cable or phone giant -- many customers are apt to just say no.

Many are doing just that now. Americans are less-apt to buy broadband service than people in Asia, less apt to use it avidly. This makes them more apt to be passive, to stay stupid. And, in the long run, this makes us less competitive as a people.

It's in our natonal interest, in our public interest, to increase competition on phone and cable lines. It's not in the interest of the giants in those industries. They'd rather be fat trusts, just as most of us would rather sit around in front of our TVs and get fat than work out in the mornings, even though we know that's better for us.

Ted Hearn is like the guy in this picture, the fat, smoking doctor who tells you to smoke, drink, and eat to your heart's content. Hey, he's getting paid either way.

Category: Internet


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