T-Mobile Rebel Alliance update

The FCC have announced the docket numbers for their consideration of the AT&T takeover of T-Mobile: Interested parties must file petitions to deny no later than May 31, 2011. Persons and entities that file petitions to deny become parties to the proceeding. They may participate fully in the proceeding, including seeking access to any confidential information that may be filed under a protective order, seeking reconsideration of decisions, and filing appeals of a final decision to the courts.

À la carte TV

Apparently the FCC have taken a closer look at the figures they were offered to prove that à la carte programming would increase prices. Turns out the figures were flawed, and prices would actually drop according to the FCC’s own analysis. Predictably, the media giants are howling with dire warnings of even bigger price hikes, mass censorship, outbreaks of bird flu, and anything else they can think of. I’m getting tired of seeing the same old crappy arguments wheeled out time and time again, so I’ve put together a page on à la carte TV myths, based on thoughts I originally wrote up in a letter to the FCC.

À la carte TV myths

The controversy over à la carte cable and satellite programming keeps resurfacing. The basic problem is that cable prices keep rising, to the point where the basic level of digital cable is over $50 a month in many places. Prices have risen 40% in the last decade.

(As an aside, I’m amazed at the whiners in the UK who complain about paying £126.50 a year for a TV license that gets them the best premium programming from the US, as well as UK TV. I pay $588 a year to get a similar selection.)

Viewers find it galling to pay for a hundred channels when there are only a handful they watch on a regular basis. Hence there has been a campaign to get the FCC to rule that cable and satellite providers must offer the option of à la carte programming, where you can choose to subscribe to only the channels you actually want.

The cable and satellite companies don’t want to see that happen, as it would eat into their fat profits. Since the same companies own a lot of the mainstream media outlets, I’m constantly seeing astroturf coverage explaining why à la carte programming is impossible, would make your cable bills skyrocket, is tantamount to Communism, and so on.

This is my attempt to cut through a lot of the common bullshit spouted on the subject.

Coincidence du jour

FOX News and News Corporation papers like The Sun and the New York Post offered rabid support for the war in Iraq. Michael Powell, son of Colin Powell, is Chairman of the FCC. Guess who just got FCC clearance to buy DirecTV?