Sender: •••@••.•••


this is something that every cable subscriber should be supporting.
 customers should be the first to demand compliance of their operators.  it
would bring them programing from smaller producers, and others who would be
hard-pressed to get network support.  it would also bring extra money to
their cable provider, and they could then obtain a lower rate.  more
programing and lower rates?  make your demands known as soon as possible.
 this will be to your advantage.




Sender: Martin Janzen <•••@••.•••>

Richard K. Moore writes:
>        I'm posting this for two reasons.  First, it is of immediate
>interest, re/ cable regulation.   Second, it exemplifies what we can expect
>UNIVERSALLY in electronic media as all channels become monopolized (like
>today's cable) and as our representative government is pushed more and more
>out of playing a role by deregulation mania.
>        For you libertarians out there, who will undoubtedly point out that
>the FCC is partly to blame, I ask: would your solution to crime be to
>eliminate all police forces? -- that's what deregulation mania is really
>about, as regards corporate misbehavior.

Hmm, I guess Richard is talking to Glen or to me, so far be it from me
to disappoint.  First, let's see if I understand this correctly:

1) Currently, U.S. cable systems are forced by the FCC (?) to lease
10-15% of their capacity at what are presumably below-market rates, to
small-scale commercial operations ("SSCOs", however those may be defined).

2) The cable companies aren't happy about this, so they're dragging
their feet in complying with this law.

3) In order to try and get cheap access to the cable providers' networks,
the SSCOs are suing the cable providers, claiming that they have a
_right to_ such access and even seeking more than their actual damages
(because they can't quantify what those "damages" are).

Well, Richard, you're right that I'm going to point out that it's the
FCC (or whatever it is in the U.S. that passed this "47 USC 532" law)
that's to blame.  What on earth gives them the right to tell other
people how much they may charge for their services, or to force people
(in this case, cable company owners and shareholders) to associate with
others (the SSCOs) involuntarily?

Freedom of association implies the freedom to refuse to associate on
other than mutually agreeable terms.  People should deal with each other
by mutual consent, or not at all; do you not agree?  Laws like this one,
which dictate who should deal with whom and at what price, are simply
theft.  I hope the SSCOs lose big-time.

>Second, it exemplifies what we can expect
>UNIVERSALLY in electronic media as all channels become monopolized (like
>today's cable)

Excuse me?  "Become monopolized" by deregulation?  This is a new and
creative use of the word "monopoly".

Here in Canada, cable providers *do* have regional monopolies -- meaning
that would-be competitors are prevented from competing with the existing
cable providers by the threat of violence.

The building in which I live is a case in point.  The owner, in
conjunction with the local telco, had set up an experimental TV delivery
system over fiber.  Rogers Cable, the local monopolist, whined to the
CRTC (=FCC) and had the government shut this experiment down.  Suddenly
all of the residents were informed that we were now Rogers' customers,
like it or not.  I'm still furious about it.

See, *this* is a monopoly.  A market dominated by a single large company,
but with no laws preventing competitors from entering the market -- think
of the computer industry in the IBM-dominated '60s and '70s -- is not.

(A quick aside:  The overloaded meaning of "monopoly" on this list now
has me confused as to the legal status of U.S. cable providers.  I'm
under the possibly mistaken impression that your government no longer
prevents competition in the cable business.  If in fact the cable
providers being sued still have a government-granted monopoly, that
would certainly decrease my sympathy for their cause.  They that live by
government intervention deserve to die by government intervention...
In that case I'd argue to the SSCOs that they should instead urge the
FCC to get out of the way entirely, allowing potentially more sympathetic
distributors to compete with the existing cable providers.)

A couple of other things in this posting deserve attention:

>The cable industry has a strangle-hold on the distribution of
>television, preventing thousands of new and small video producers and
>animators from exhibiting their work.

If the first part of this sentence is true in the U.S., is it because
the government has granted monopolies to cable providers?  That's
certainly the case in Canada, as my example demonstrates.  If the
government would just get the hell out of the way, telcos, ISPs, even
small-scale broadcasters (now "pirate TV") could break the strangle-
hold and provide alternative distribution mechanisms.

As for "preventing [them] from exhibiting their work", that's simply not
true.  These video producers can exhibit their work in art galleries, on
Web sites, at festivals, and so on -- anywhere that people are willing
to give or rent them space or bandwidth.  The cable providers are not
seizing their work or threatening them if they continue to produce it;
they're simply not willing to distribute the work at a cut rate.  Sorry,
but the world owes no one, not even new and small video producers and
animators, a living.  "Freedom of the press" doesn't mean that someone
is obligated to buy you one.

Finally, in response to Richard's question about crime, this more-or-
less-libertarian says: don't eliminate police forces, eliminate bad laws
concerning activities that should never have been considered "crimes" in
the first place.

And the comments about "corporate misbehavior" are simply out of place.
Certainly I'm not particularly fond of cable providers, but the ones
whom the SSCOs are planning to sue are guilty of nothing more than
attempting to avoid the effects of an immoral law.  This is responsible
behavior as far as I'm concerned.

Really, the constant pro-government-intervention, anti-corporate
rhetoric appears to be flying particularly thick and fast lately.  I
don't understand why Richard seems to be so vehemently opposed to
anything that the people in charge of corporations like telcos and
cable providers do, and so enamored of the strange notion that
government regulation of same will set us free.  I continue to try and
sway his opinion, but I am beginning to tire of the effort, and suspect
that just under the surface of these telecom debates there is some deep
philosophical disagreement which continues to elude us...

Martin Janzen           •••@••.•••

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