Don't Let the Net Become Like Cable TV!
by howardpark, Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 04:25:34 AM EDT
A long time ago, probably the very early 1990's, I worked as a grassroots lobbyist for a few months for the local telephone industry in a few "key" congressional districts. If it had been a play, the title would have been "Promises, Promises!" 15 or so years later I'm watching a rerun. It sucks but we can change the ending.
I barely remember the issue now but the song remains the same. The telephone companies were arguing for a regulatory change to bring the wonderful world of competition to cable TV. The issue might have been rate caps (two nasty words on K Street). If only the local telephone companies got thier wishes and it became profitable to invest Cable TV would blossom into a cornacopia of innovation and choice.
15 years later Cable is probably a little better at a lot more cost. I pay $50 a month for Cable and will probably drop it when Tony Soprano whacks his last friend. I still don't get the channels I might really want like Sundance, IFC, the Al Gore one, etc. I can't even get more than a few games of the Washington Nationals! It has become really expensive. There are a few good channels, 3 PBS stations, but it is walled off. The real innovation is not available even for the expensive package I have in Washington, DC. I don't watch much TV anymore.
Repealing Net Neutrality promises to turn the freedom of the Internet into the wasteland of Cable TV. If content providers need to pay to access you the winners will be the robber barons and the corporations they control. Rupert Murdoch is going to be able to pay more than Matt Stoller, or even the mighty Kos. The Net will evolve into an incredible merchandising machine but it will be like a trimmed tree, no wild outgrowths. After they charge for access to the net, thier agenda will be to charge you directly.
Those who wish to repeal net neutrality are playing "Promises, Promises!" again. Thier record at keeping them is just above the standard set by the US Government dealing with Native American tribes in the 1800's. Don't get fooled again.