Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cable Nets - That Was Then, This Is Now

Today's list of cable nets weren't always known by their current names.  Some moved from names to letters, others from one name to another.  And for some, the names and focus continue to change.  The most recent news comes from Discovery Channel who is giving a name change to Planet Green.  Prior to that  incarnation, they were known as Discovery Home and beginning on May 28, they will be known as Destination America.

Will this new brand name finally catch hold, we can only wait and see.  In the meantime, here's a list of other networks that have changed their name.  It is not a complete list so go ahead and add other names in the comment section. As too many nets changed from names to initials, I will exclude those from this list.

Then And Now
Discover Health ... OWN
Movietime... E!
Financial News Network ... CNBC
Court TV ... TruTV
The Comedy Channel and Ha! ... Comedy Central
SciFi ... SyFy
Romance Classics ... WeTV
ZDTV ... TechTV ... G4
CBN Cable Network ... The Family Channel ... Fox Family ... ABC Family
CNN2 ... CNN Headline News ... HLN

So long Planet Green.  We hardly had any time to watch ya.

Does Too Big Help Or Hurt The US Economy?

Today's opinion article in the Wall Street Journal, "How Huge Banks Threaten The Economy" could easily be applied to every other oligopoly operating in the economy.  Certainly, we have all felt the effects that the banks have had on the housing market and mortgages and how the US Government was needed to protect them as they were "too big to fail".  The editorial position is that too big is anti-competitive and that small can "improve competition and market discipline, important forces that were reduced as the industry consolidated."

So should this movement to limit consolidation be applied to other industries?  If we are consistent in our approach, then shouldn't the same principals be applied to the wireless industry.  The FCC did stop AT&T from acquiring T-Mobile but they haven't stopped Verizon and AT&T from having the majority of the market.  Wasn't the break up of AT&T into the Baby Bells that first step only to find the Baby Bells merging into a bigger powerhouse than the original parent.

We've seen consolidation in the airline industry too.  United has merged with Continental and USAir wants American.  The result, less competition and higher fares.  Like the banking industry, the airlines have little competition to alter the marketplace.

And what about the consolidation of cable operators.  Time Warner Cable just acquired the assets of Insight Communication.  Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, and Cablevision have risen to control almost the entire marketplace.

Each of these industries and company leaders would tell you that big drives employment, innovation, cost efficiencies, and better products.  They would argue that government interference only hurts growth and profitability.  Of course in the case of the banks, without the bailout, most may have gone bankrupt and the economy might have been ruined for a decade or longer.

Limiting the size of companies within industries may be a noble attempt, but eventually the big fish always eat the little fish and subsequently keep getting larger.  Just like the breakup of Ma Bell tried to make the communication smaller, it eventually led to consolidation again.  We may think that small is preferable; but eventually, companies either get bigger, get acquired, or go out of business.