Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Does Cable Need More Regulation?

According to a Gigaom report, a member of the US House of Representatives wants to propose a bill to limit how larger multi channel programmers can leverage their larger networks to assure carriage of their smaller ones.  It would also eliminate blackouts of broadcast networks despite being out of contract.  And while this bill may appear consumer friendly on the surface, unbundling networks and limiting the negotiation process only stifles growth and opportunity.  It is a short sighted attempt at changing an industry that is already experiencing massive change.

Both networks and operators have more choices for carriage than ever before.  The rise of Over The Top (OTT) platforms and the growth of broadband and wireless has encouraged competition and in fact caused cable operators to see that price hikes have led to a loss of cable subscribers.  Programmers have also found themselves being dropped from cable line-ups.  Rather than create laws to limit the current business model, Congress should be doing more to encourage lower barriers of entry to broadband.  Encourage companies to offer alternative platforms to cable.  Enable new companies to build broadband infrastructures.  Enable competition rather than limit it. 

This proposed bill is not the correct means to the end.  While this bill is unlikely to gain much traction, it still demonstrates that Congress is wrongly focused on where the industry is headed.  Competition is the key to better service and lower prices for the consumer.  The rise of mobile devices is indicative that efforts should instead be on improving and growing our broadband highway. 

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