After writing about the Comcast Time Warner merger and the corruption involved in the FCC, it really seems to me that the proper way for people like you and me to sidestep this situation is to use the internet. It’s a little funny to me that the internet is not used for more—we are still using cell towers to make phone calls when Skype and other programs are free to the user. People can currently buy data for tablets without needing to pay for a phone number, and if that doesn’t work you could buy a hotspot transmitter. There is also free wi-fi countless places, and I’m sure there would be plenty of people willing to give away wi-fi for a little advertising revenue, doing away with cell towers all together.
So this same situation could be used for cable TV alternatives, and already is. I’m sure you have heard of the popularity of Netflix which has even come out with some of its own series. Hulu, HBO-GO, and Amazon all have versions of streaming TV as well, which are gaining popularity though somewhat limited still in their programing. Of course these are the types of situations—competition—Comcast tried to avoid by buying off politicians to influence the FCC. They aren’t going to go down easily, but the more aware we are of the situation, the easier it will be for us to fight regulations that Comcast would love to see, forcing the costs they already incur on all broadcasters.
And that is why the company Aero is being sued by ABC for renting out antennas which capture broadcasts made on public airwaves. The Supreme Court arguments all center around whether this is a public performance or a private performance, and therefore whether or not the copyright fees need to be paid to each channel being broadcast. But the broadcasts are still being made on public airwaves, so it seems to me that whoever has the capability to collect those waves should be allowed to do so, like turning on a radio.
CBS and Fox have warned that if Aereo wins, they would have to consider getting out of the broadcasting business. Last year, 21st Century Fox Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said Fox Broadcasting could be converted to a cable channel if its distribution fees were in jeopardy.
CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves has also floated the going-cable scenario and more recently suggested the network could launch its own Internet-delivered version of its network should the high court side with Aereo.
Woah, wait a minute! You mean if technology advances a company might have to adapt in order to figure out a way to still turn a profit?!?! Ridiculous! Call in the guns and kill the competition with the FCC or the Supreme Court or an act of Congress! But sarcasm aside, who cares? Everyone knows the internet is the future of broadcast, and the sooner companies like Comcast and Time Warner go down in flames, the better. It is insane to me that broadcast companies don’t already stream their channels over the internet, and charge for a subscription, or sell to a package bundler.
But this actually gives us some insight into why they are not already doing that. Right now, broadcasters have a “protected” business where they make billions every year on fees paid to them by companies like Comcast and Time Warner. So they are worried that they won’t be able to collect those fees while still using public airwaves, and Comcast is worried that people won’t have to put up with their extortion if TV moves to the internet, which the FCC and government has less of a regulatory stranglehold on. In short, these broadcast companies must appeal to the government to kill their competition, or adapt to a better business model which fits 21st century consumer demand.
And it is about time that customers see some competition among broadcasters and finally reclaim the upper hand. With the internet, things are so much more competitive. What we will see is some terrible propaganda cable and broadcast channels die out as people are not forced to pay for them in a bundle with the TV channels they do watch. The good channels which people like will survive and thrive on the internet, and the bad ones will properly go the way of the dinosaurs. And we will see much more original content being created by companies like Netflix. Since it is not public broadcasting the FCC will have no power to regulate it, and therefore will have no ability to crush some businesses and prop up others, as it currently does
What is more, YouTube channels and independent news sources will become even more mainstream, and the government’s ability to shut out some news and make up other news will be greatly diminished. Competition is a good thing for the consumer, and right now competition in TV is rising once again through the internet, and has the potential to destroy the puppet media by diversification. Let’s hope the Supreme Court finds what Aero is doing to be legal, and helps propel the future of TV onto the internet. Then we might find out what the media looks like when it is not all owned by the same handful of people.