I have to be blunt; I'm very confused and a little upset over what Kevin Martin at the FCC believes is good competition and what is bad competition. I'm reacting to today's editorial in the Wall Street Journal called The FCC Plays' "Monopoly" which of course could be just opinion, but there are certainly some scary points raised in it:
- Chairman Martin plans to push a slew of new regulations on cable operators
- he wants to force cable companies to reduce, by as much as 75%, the already regulated rates they charge to lease channels to programmers
- is expected to show that cable has finally reached the 70% threshold that gives the FCC the green light to impose more regulations. Mr. Martin achieves this result essentially by cooking the books. He has cherry-picked data and single-handedly changed the methodology for determining penetration rates.
Now, I'm certainly not a lover of cable service and in fact hate their service and prices and haven't used them for almost 10 years; opting instead for DirectTV. Yes, I have a convoluted system for these services. I use DirectTV for TV, Embarq the worst brand name ever for phone and DSL, and Verizon for wireless.
In beautiful Long Valley I have no choices for phone service. I can choose Embarq which I did or crappy cable. Oh and if you've ever tried to call me on my wireless phone when I'm home you know that if the phone rang at all you were greeted with more static than you'd hear by listening to WFAN in a lightning storm. That's why I've written over and over again how the FCC and Kevin Martin don't understand the telecom industry and why consumers are getting charged more money for terrible service. Now, not to be outdone, the Wall Street Journal wrote today "we're beginning to wonder if the head of the Federal Communications Commission knows the first thing about the cable industry he regulates."
Can cable use a little bit of a hair cut on their prices? Sure. Same with your local phone company. Can cable use more competition? Sure, but unlike the local phone market where there isn't any competition, you at least have two satellite providers and perhaps a local phone company fighting for your TV viewing time; and that's not all if you want to count watching TV programming on the internet.
There is way more competition for your cable time than your local phone service. Not sure why Martin wants to squeeze cable companies more than he does with local phone companies. I guess that's what has me so confused regarding what he chooses to regulate. BTW - MarketWatch has more detail on Kevin Martin not getting much support for his initiative and where the data is coming from (not to be used by the FCC according to the source)