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United States Government Media Television News

Congress Turns Up The Heat on FCC's Chairman 148

Posted by Zonk
from the is-it-hot-in-here-or-is-it-just-kevin-martin dept.
Fletch writes "FCC Chairman Kevin Martin could be in for an uncomfortable spring, as House Energy Committee Chair John Dingel (D-MI) has requested a truckload of FCC paperwork relating to some controversial decisions Martin has made. Those include the FCC's reversal on the a la carte cable issue and newspaper-television cross-ownership restrictions. 'This request has got to be turning the FCC completely upside down. Significantly, it appears to reflect a bipartisan discontent with Martin's performance. Democrats and some Republicans are upset over his recent move to relax one of the agency's key media ownership rules, as well as the rushed manner in which he handled the matter late last year. Other Republicans dislike what they see as Martin's persecution of the cable industry, especially Comcast.' The Committee originally announced its intention to investigate the FCC in January."
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Congress Turns Up The Heat on FCC's Chairman

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  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:23PM (#22742586)
    just ignore congress and shred every last document. Why not? Everybody else on Bush's team does this and gets away with it. Democrats in congress make a lot of noise but always bend over and take it when Bush gets angry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:24PM (#22742600)
    Whew!

    The checks cleared in time.

  • by Meor (711208)
    Saying congress is turning up the heat on the FCC is like saying Chaney is turning up the heat on Bush to get out of Iraq. They serve the same agenda and they're not looking out for the people.

    Nothing short of removing power from both congress and the FCC will keep these jokers from leeching from the public.
    • Not quite. Obviously the FCC is stepping on quite a few toes with the Comcast traffic forgery fiasco. I wonder how much it costs to use Congress to "turn up the heat" on something. The FCC Chairman is not an elected official so its a lot harder to purchase the rulings you want out of him. It only make sense that Comcast found it easier to buy some Congressmen.

      I bet if you examine how these politicians' next campaigns are financed you'll find the money trail back to Comcast.
      • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @04:04PM (#22743002) Journal

        Yeah, this is a really rather disturbing abuse of Congress's oversight authority. For the first time since I was born, we finally have an FCC Chairman who actually stands up for the general public. What happens? Republicans and Democrats freak out because serving the public interest is not in the interest of either party. God forbid that the FCC Chairman might actually do his job and regulate scarce resources in a way that promotes fairness and equal access, provides maximum public utility, and preserves the viability of those resources for future generations....

        Some of the things this Chairman has done include:

        • Standing up to Comcast for their egregious abuse of the TCP/IP protocol to cause downloads to disconnect after a few seconds. This breaks lots of protocols, not just BitTorrent.
        • Standing up to cable companies and satellite providers, pushing for a la carte availability of channels.
        • Removing antiquated ownership rules whose only effect in a modern, online world is to drive ailing newspapers out of business for lack of the abilitty to consolidate with anyone.
        • Taking a stand in favor of network neutrality, ensuring that ISPs can't hold the traffic of clients of other ISPs hostage and ensuring that providers cannot give preferential treatment to their own VoIP services over those of their competitors.

        I'm sure there are others. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Bush actually got something right. Judging by the backlash from Republicans, I'm assuming it was an error on his part, but still, we as a community need to rally behind this guy.

        • by sumdumass (711423)
          Don't forget, it is approaching a major election year. Many of the republicans will be attempting to distance themselves from Bush while some will be trying to imitate democrats to get reelected. This doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't an accident, but it shed some different light on the topic.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Meor (711208)
        Major corporations are always in the pockets of Congress and it'll always be that way. People are blind, they call congress corrupt and then expect them to eliminate corruption in another government organization. The American people are getting played from both sides down the middle; half don't know it, 1/3 don't care, and the rest don't know what to do about it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by TheCRAIGGERS (909877)
        Just out of curiosity, why do you say it's "harder to purchase the rulings you want" out of people that aren't elected? Just like sales people from vendors that take me out to lunch and offer free game tickets and mugs and pens and vacations and all kinds of other crap. In politics it's called "contributions." In sales it's called "gifts."

        Actually, it seems like it would be easier to have somebody that's not elected bought, since politicians have to publicly show who is giving them money.
        • Do you remember grade school civics? Its the same reason that Judges are not elected. The FCC Chairman serves at the pleasure of President Bush. He doesn't have to worry about politics, therefore he is less susceptible to influence than our elected officials. Elected officials have to worry about people funding their competitors or throwing money at smear campaigns in retribution for unfavorable actions.

          His finances may be under less scrutiny, but that sort of corruption would be criminal for both parti
  • by Kazrath (822492) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:26PM (#22742624)
    Comcast & other big media could not fully corrupt the FCC into doing what they want but with greater power comes greater corruption and congress turned out to be easier.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chortick (979856)
      With apologies to Humbert Wolfe:

      You cannot hope to bribe or sway,
      The Congress of the U.S.A.
      But given what this lot will do
      Un-bribed, there's no occasion to.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:29PM (#22742644)
    Comcast deserves all the examination it has gotten, and more. They have been terrible.

    And "a la carte" cable is the obvious and fair thing to do. The claims of "undue burden" and "technically infeasible" are just so much crap. If they have the tecnical capability to do "On Demand", then they have the technical capability to do a la carte. Q.E.D.

    Plain and simple: they just don't want to. Because then they can't charge exhorbitant rates for their bundled "packages".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I thought the packages were set up to cover the high cost of certain channels, e.g., ESPN. I mean, in addition to being designed to fuck over subscribers.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        That may be true, but why does the consumer have to pay for it? Either ESPN (or whoever) lowers their prices to be competitive, or understands that for that kind of pricing, they'll have less orders.
        • by rhizome (115711)
          Either ESPN (or whoever) lowers their prices to be competitive, or understands that for that kind of pricing, they'll have less orders.

          There is a situation you have failed to consider: the cable providers are actually paying ESPN to carry their channels for the privilege of making money off the advertising on those channels. This is the stumbling block for a la carte: Comcast needs all of their customers to take these channels to defray the fees they pay to carry them, that's why ESPN is always in the basic
        • That may be true, but why does the consumer have to pay for it? Either ESPN (or whoever) lowers their prices to be competitive, or understands that for that kind of pricing, they'll have less orders.

          Or, consumers could say "Hey, I really want ESPN, so I'm willing to pay more for that than the Golf Channel."

          People are willing to pay a premium (or differential price) for channels like HBO. What makes you think it would be any different for other channels? I know I'd be willing to pay more for ESPN than whatever the average charge per channel is for standard cable. Why? Because I'm not going to lease Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, Oxygen, any religious channels, Style, Hallmark, or anything else that doe

      • I thought the packages were set up to cover the high cost of certain channels, e.g., ESPN.

        That may or may not be correct but I distinctly remember reading a comment last year on this subject. Essentially, it's not that the cable providers (Comcast, Time Warner, etc) don't want to offer ala carte (despite their protestations that they can't technically do it) but rather it is the Viacoms and other programmers who won't let it happen.

        If you, as Comcast, want to provide your butt fucks (er, subscriber

      • exactly, the cable companies are just middlemen. They are being arm-twisted to bundle by the higher ups. If Viacom or NBC/Universal wants 5 channels of space for advertising, they'll bundle those with something really popular and say air all of them or none. I suppose it also helps to server lesser meet markets... would you buy Home and Garden? Would the football jocks buy SciFi. Without the "socialized" pay for the lesser channels they wouldn't drive enough ads to support themselves.... or rather, the
    • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:48PM (#22742838)
      Comcast is only a symptom. Comcast would not be able to get away with what it currently can if not for the local monopolies handed to it by the government. The company has manipulated the government to avoid upgrading their lines to actually handle the bandwidth they claim to their customers.

      "Comcast deserves all the examination it has gotten, and more. They have been terrible."

      The real problem, though, is that the government is able to impose such monopolies on us. It's pointless to go after companies as they become problems, because these companies will continue to spring up. The effective approach is to stop the problem at the source: get politics out of money. Don't permit legislation that creates monopolies and destroys competition. Trash these FCC regulations, and the market will take care of itself. People will have choices, and companies will have to compete to offer what people want at the lowest price possible. And idiotic situations such as the one we currently find ourselves in will not be able to thrive.
      • It is also part of the cause. The argument "I did it because I could" is not morally or ethically defensible. Unfortunately, it might be legally defensible. But that's not good enough for me.
        • Agreed, however, that statement "I did it because I could" is also being made by the politicians who make these regulations. If you legally remove the ability to add restrictions such as this to the market, you prevent the market from being deformed as it currently is in the case of internet service.
          • If I understand you properly, I disagree. That is to say, I agree that the unhealthy connection between money and politics should be eliminated. On the other hand, certain antitrust rules (precisely the sort that have prevented content carries from being owned or influenced by content providers) are absolutely necessary, as history has very clearly shown.

            Reasonable antitrust (i.e., anti-monopoly) rules are not "unnecessary regulation". They are meta-rules that keep everyone working WITHIN the rules of th
            • "On the other hand, certain antitrust rules (precisely the sort that have prevented content carries from being owned or influenced by content providers) are absolutely necessary, as history has very clearly shown."

              Can you provide any historical examples of a monopoly unsupported in any way by government regulation that was able to persist? I could see one attempting to spring up, but it could only exist if the market chose not to shift away or was unable to shift away (either by force or by lack of compe
            • These suckers that buy into the propaganda are not able to think clearly enough; therefore, normal reasoning will get NOT WORK. You're wasting your time, it is like trying to explain evolution to a devoted creationist or seeing a wise InvisiblePinkUnicorn. (slam!)

              Ironically, people can use a lot of reason justifying their unreasonable positions and end up taking you down to their level and then they beat you at it (to paraphrase an old saying on fools.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Red Flayer (890720)

          The argument "I did it because I could" is not morally or ethically defensible. Unfortunately, it might be legally defensible.

          That which is not forbidden is allowed.

          We cannot demand that people obey some moral code, when morality is subjective. This is why in the Old Testament there are the 10 Commandments, not the 10 guidelines for moral behavior. This is why Hammurabi's Code existed. This is why the legal system is based on blacklisting disallowed behaviours, not whitelisting appropriate ones.

          Unless

      • by Abcd1234 (188840)
        . The effective approach is to stop the problem at the source: get politics out of money. Don't permit legislation that creates monopolies and destroys competition. Trash these FCC regulations, and the market will take care of itself.

        Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh god, that's good... so idealistic, it's kinda cute.

        Never heard of a natural monopoly, huh? Or barriers to entry? I can only assume not, since most libertarian idealists have to pretend these things don't exist in order to maintain their illusions.

        See, cont
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by monxrtr (1105563)
          No, monopolies only exist because of government interference in the market place, without exception. Government regulation *requires* that consumers be shackled to corporate tentacles, such as in the form of power lines and cable lines.

          Homeowners could have easily paid market rate for power grid connector nodes, cable nodes that connect just like plumbing to a centralized neighborhood or city node, at which point businesses can compete to connect to that node and deliver. Thus, many individual companies cou
          • by dave562 (969951)
            You're coming across as pretty delusional. So in this world of yours where everyone can provide the service, how does that work? Every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to be a content provider has to run their own network into the major studios? Maybe they can use the internet... but then who owns that? Maybe we can have twenty million different, parallel networks so that people can have some choice. Where are things going to homerun into? You can't use the CO up the street because it belongs to the loca
          • First I thought I'd reply to your wildly ignorant statement that "monopolies only exist because of government interference in the market place, without exception." in an rational manner. Then I read your statement "Any other government monopolies or interferences in the free market you need me to solve?" and realized that you are simply delusional.

            Here's a simple question for you to answer: would you rather buy a house that comes with power pre-attached, or would you rather buy a house, buy a connector, wai
  • How many people in the US still rely solely on newspapers for their news? If the point of this cross-ownership restriction is to prevent manipulation of the media, the manipulation will be restricted to the media under the company's ownership. Once people realize the company is feeding them bad information (which they can more and more easily accomplish thanks to the internet), the company will get a bad image and be rejected by willing individuals. A newspaper is only as strong as its readership base.

    Re
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:47PM (#22742826)
      Not all people are as independent-thinking as you are. The Iraq "war" -- and the continued presence of Gworge W. Bush -- are excellent examples, demonstrating that an awful lot of people in this country believe what they are told by the media, no matter how ridiculous it is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by amplt1337 (707922)
      A newspaper is only as strong as its readership base.

      Remind me again where the problem is?


      It's in the readership base -- when was the last time the average American actually looked at (say) a foreign newspaper? Let alone a foreign-language one.

      That said, there's no reason for the FCC to go out of their way to enable Information Domination. And do you seriously think that any of these companies would be happy to leave the Internet as an unsullied source of pure truth from outside their grip? No, they'll
      • "That said, there's no reason for the FCC to go out of their way to enable Information Domination."

        The FCC does what it does because its members are influenced by friends and financiers. The reason I have only one cable choice in my area is due to government interference.

        "No, they'll try to monetize that, and (as collateral damage) limit citizens' access to external sources of information."

        How exactly can a company with no political influence be able to limit my access to anything? It is only becau
        • The reason I have [deleted: only] one cable choice in my area is due to government interference.

          You really think any private enterprise could arrange for the right of ways without governemnt interference? Or, if you are in a rural area, that it is cost effective to run a wire to you and maintain it?

          If the local newspaper refuses to print news from outside the city, I will drop them and subscribe to another paper offering more news

          Really? How many papers do you have where you live. Most major cities se

          • "You really think any private enterprise could arrange for the right of ways without government interference?"

            They would want to because there would be demand for it. People want the internet, and companies want profits. It is only when you politically force the market to give people only one choice that companies are able to keep prices high and make ridiculous restrictions to save their asses. Given the choice between a company blocking P2P and one allowing it, I would choose the latter and influence m
            • Given the choice between a company blocking P2P and one allowing it, I would choose the latter and influence my friends/family/coworkers to do the same.

              Given the choice between Natalie Portman and a sock, I would choose Natalie Portman. But since I don't have that choice, the point is moot.

              Why do you believe that the reason you only have one company to choose from in your area is only the fault of the company?

              Hell, at worst there is one cable monopoly and one phone monopoly. That is two companies. If

              • by xaxa (988988)
                Maybe he lives in Britain. There's quite a few papers, these are the national ones I can think of (the main ones):
                - The Times
                - The Daily Telegraph
                - The Independent
                - The Guardian
                - Daily Mail
                - The Sun
                - Financial Times
                - Daily Express
                - Daily Mirror
                - News of the World
                - Daily Star
                Some are much better than others. The Sun has a nude woman on page three, and the Star has a nude women on every other page (and she probably wrote the articles too), but they're important in that a lot of people buy them, so they have
                • Everything I know about papers in Britain, I learned from "Yes, Minister."

                  1. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
                  2. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
                  3. The Times is read by people who actually do run the country;
                  4. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;
                  5. The Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
                  6. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country;
                  7. The Da
        • by amplt1337 (707922)
          The FCC does what it does because its members are influenced by friends and financiers.
          Sorry, I think you missed my point -- there's no reason that we should encourage the FCC to go out of its way to make media consolidation a reality.
          As to whether a hundred flowers would bloom in the absence of "natural monopoly" rulings, I respect the logic of your position, but I think it's naive about the power of an entrenched going concern which owns the wires.

          It is only because politics (laws, regulations) are tied t
          • "I think it's naive about the power of an entrenched going concern which owns the wires."

            That may be. I was simply trying to show what the ultimate goal should look like, not necessarily how to get there.

            "No, really it's just the money. If they own every local newspaper and all the ones outside the city (or their equivalents do), then you're hosed."

            How? Once people realize they're being fed misinformation, demand will surge for a local paper with news closer to the truth, and individuals will see t
            • by amplt1337 (707922)
              Once that "other guy" is found though, word will spread rapidly and the market will shift to support him. His job is maintained provided that he supplies what the public wants, and as long as they want the truth, he will want to give it to them.

              *And* provided he can afford to supply it to them.
              Someone attempting to start a truly independent paper providing "the truth" under those circumstances would need to charge an exorbitant amount per issue (or run an all-volunteer business -- not a model that tends to
  • Some of the congressmen think that he's making it too easy for the cable companies to make money by relaxing ownership rules and eliminating the a la carte initiative. While some other members think he's making it too hard for them to spoof customer packets and interfere with any and all traffic that they feel like. No matter if he goes easy or hard on them, it seems like someone is going to want his head. I kinda feel bad for him, then again I agree with the guys that question the a la carte reversal.
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:43PM (#22742778)
    And Martin is a great target, because communications decision-making is so controversial. However, there's still a huge number of telco/carrier contributions to various political campaigns and funds that are being ignored here. What of the millions of dollars used to influence policy and legislation? What of congressmen that shill for MPAA/RIAA and the cable/comm companies? It's all PR. Nothing but media blasts and putting Martin on the hotseat (which he richly deserves, for so many reasons).
  • by Gybrwe666 (1007849) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @04:05PM (#22743020)
    There is more to a la carte channel selection than simply the will of the Cable Co's themselves.

    The reality is that the bulk of programming costs for the cable company are directly attributable to a few companies, such as Disney, HBO, etc.

    First, you have to understand how pricing for channels from the channel owners is done. Its done based on volume, usually negotiated per head. When Disney and a provider (doesn't matter is its cable or satellite) negotiate a contract, they end up with a per-consumer cost that the cable company pays to carry the channel.

    There are two reasons that more than 50% of the channels are complete crap.

    1) The really crappy ones are so low cost that they have a negligible effect on the consumer. Channels provided by the non-big companies fall in this category. The one that comes to mind is the Christian Broadcast Network, which only cost pennies per month to the cable companies.

    2) The bundle effect. In order to sell advertising, the big media providers (Disney, etc.) want to have as many channels as possible carried, preferably the ones that are in the starter bundles. Therefore, you get at least 3-5 ESPN channels. Unfortunately, none of the cable (or satellite) providers have any negotiating ability here at all. This is unregulated territory, so Disney will just sit back on its haunches and say, "You want ESPN? Guess what...you have to also put ESPN2, ESPN Classic, and ESPN Sports Nobody Cares About" in your Basic Tier.

    Do you really think that a local cable provider will be able to refuse? So Disney ends up with a fairly significant portion of channels, which means they get to sell more ad revenue, and build up aftermarket sales of DVD's and paraphenalia.

    The cable company is damned if they don't, effectively. They can't negotiate, as there isn't much choice about carrying Disney Channel and ESPN.

    So, because of these contractual agreements, the cable companies *CANNOT* unbundle channels, at least in any meaningful way. Because there are only a handful of meaningful channels provided by a handful of extremely large companies, unbundling would, at best, mean having a Disney group, a TimeWarner group, etc. And the big media conglomerates will *NEVER* allow this. If they did, it would eat into their already shrinking ad revenues so fast the shareholders might explode.

    So, not to defend the cable companies, but this matter is one that is largely unregulated, and the cable companies are unable to win the battle. While this isn't the only factor (certainly the cable companies want to charge you as much as possible for as many tiers of service as possible), it is one of the biggest. Remember, the highest margins for the cable companies are in the in-house services they control: data, phone, etc. When they have to pay per subscriber (or per event, such as On-Demand or PPV) they don't make nearly as much as they do for services they control.

    Remember, also, that some channels *ARE* regulated by government, especially local access channels (my system carries 3-4 of them, I think). This is a huge waste of bandwidth that the cable companies are contractually obligated to provide in order to get local franchises. Again, crap. A waste of resources. But the cable company has no choice but to spend a ton of money and bandwidth to meet these obligations.

    The future of cable is obviously to move to digital only services. I know of one small cable company that is actively looking to migrate to PacketCable exclusively, which means that they would deliver everything via packets, rather than channels. The minute the FCC lets the cable companies drop Analog services, expect this to happen quickly.

    However, its unfair to only blame the Cable Co's. The Big Media is as much to blame if not more than anyone else.

    Bill
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AK Marc (707885)
      First, you have to understand how pricing for channels from the channel owners is done.

      I understand and think that a la carte should still be done. What's the bottom line? The cable providers have to take in more than they spend, or they go out of business. Great, so they price the a la carte such that it makes them money. Period. It doesn't matter how they buy it, all that matters is that they sell it for whatever they are selling it for now. The reason they don't like it is uncertainty. Rather th
      • You're missing the point entirely. If the media providers have the power, by way of forcing the cable companies into a contract to have the right to carry the necessary channels by bundling them, the cable providers and satellite providers lose any negotiating ability. Since this is unregulated, the cable companies *CANNOT* change the contracts, or even negotiate better ones. They have been placed into a position of no power here.

        As you poined out, if *ALL* the providers did this at once, it would work.
        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Now, you think bandwidth is free?

          Yes. Oh, and I work for a company that supplies cable television. The lines in the ground hold more than we receive on the dishes. Adding two channels handed off by a local provider would cost about $500 in connection equipment each and nothing more for operations. That means that the connection has a tiny cost and the bandwith is free. I know this because I do it for a living. Care to tell me what your qualifications are for determining the cost to hand a single add
          • Well, if you want to get into a pissing contest, we can.

            I worked as an Engineer for a major cable provider for years. I have installed modems, drops, Cisco ONS Fiber equipment, worked on Cisco CMTS's, installed Gigabit Fiber Optic networks, maintained DNS, Mail, and Web Servers for cable customers, done tech support, and many other things.

            I have also been a Director at 3 different regional ISP's, responsible 100% for operations and security for up to 150k customers, with 25 people in 4 states directly repo
    • by hondo77 (324058)

      Remember, also, that some channels *ARE* regulated by government, especially local access channels (my system carries 3-4 of them, I think). This is a huge waste of bandwidth that the cable companies are contractually obligated to provide in order to get local franchises. Again, crap. A waste of resources. But the cable company has no choice but to spend a ton of money and bandwidth to meet these obligations.

      Are you really saying that a couple of local-access channels, out of the hundreds my cable company carries, are costing it "tons of money and bandwidth"?

    • by ImaLamer (260199)
      It should be pointed out that a move to digital only channels will only entrench the consumer in higher bills.

      Right now I have the *right* to unscrambled HD content, and the *ability* to decode the analog cable signal freely. If the system moves to be all digital I'll never again be able to simply plug that coax into a TV or a PC tuner again - unless there is regulation in effect that keeps it "open". I don't see that ever happening, as with my local provider (Time Warner) you must call and *request* the ab
      • Perhaps. But then, it will also allow the cable companies to provide better services and to slice those services much, much more finely for the endusers. It seems as if you've made the assumption that the cable companies want to provide crap. They really don't. They want to provide the best services that their customers want so they can bill for them and everyone is happy. For every crap service that is foisted on them, they end up losing something.

        And as far as requiring a tuner for HD content, that h
    • by dubbreak (623656) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @07:28PM (#22745586)
      So explain to me how legislating à la carte programming doesn't solve this issue?

      If all carriers are forced to provide à la carte programming then Disney loses it's heavy weight bargaining chip. If Disney tries to charge a particular carrier more per customer, the carrier responds, "Fine, but less of our customers will subscribe."

      There is no, "You must put these on the base tier." As there is no base tier, or at least the customers aren't forced to order it. Pricing becomes priced by consumer price elasticity (plus a margin of profit for the carriers). This is exactly as it should be.

      One question for an American versed in sales and consumer laws: Do American laws allow selling the same service or product to different customers at different rates with little or no restrictions? I am all for bulk discounts, but in my experience if you offer one customer a bulk discount another customer purchasing the same quantity must get the same rate... different laws though.
      • I never claimed a la carte wouldn't solve the problem. However, the fact that we don't have a la carte right now is not a decision that the cable companies have made, and it is most certainly not a decision that they have the ability to make. The only solution I can see is complete regulation. Once everything goes digital, they only solution would be for the FCC or Congress to dictate to *EVERYONE* (Cable, Satellite, Fiber) that everyone gets a la carte pricing. However, from the perspective of the midd
      • Do American laws allow selling the same service or product to different customers at different rates with little or no restrictions?

        Generally, yes. It is called price segmentation, or price differentiation. Think airline tickets as an example. Basically, there are not many restrictions on carving up your market and selling the same same to different purchasers at different prices.

        Restrictions that can apply are related to consumer protection, and often apply if the seller is a monopoly, is in collus

  • by trelayne (930715)
    Democrats and Republicans in bed with the corporations. It's all about Comcast, a witch-hunt, pure and simple. It's pretty unnerving to see this unfold.
    • by Cadallin (863437)
      Nader is only right to a point. The republican party is owned body and soul by corporations. Almost all of the Democratic party is as well. There are a precious few that are not, and have the voting record to prove it. Unfortunately, none are in my district. We need campaign finance reform so badly there are no words to convey it. Unfortunately, without Proportional representation, the Green party accomplishes absolutely nothing but helping Corporate whores slither into office. I'm feeling rather dep
  • We need a la carte and open cable boxes Why should I have to pay $5+ per TV just for the box???

    Why can't the FCC fix the cable card mess?
    • The FCC doesn't know how to bluff, or more to the point, can't tell when somebody else is bluffing. You see, anytime the FCC has the opportunity to make a tough decision (say, ATSC) they call in industry groups to figure out the way that will work the best for them and go with that. If the industry says it will send them out of business, or make their costs so high that people will see triple digit increases, then the FCC believes them.

      What the FCC is missing is that it is irrelevant what the cable companie
  • On one hand, I love that they're trying to get documents, and the FCC's done a lot of craziness, and nothing excuses them from having to cough up the documents, but I REALLY LIKE 'Martin's persecution of the cable industry, especially Comcast.' Can we hold off for a few weeks before we crucify the guy, until AFTER he tightens the screws on Comcast?

    THEN let's crucify him.

    Actually, I have this whole Appian way thing in mind, but I doubt congress will even cut down one tree. All metaphorical, of course...
  • "If we can't restrict the use of the words "f***" and "s***" during prime time, Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want." -- Kevin Martin, FCC chairman, June 5 2007

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"

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