NNSquad - Network Neutrality Squad
NNSquad Home Page
[ NNSquad ] Re: Atlantic article claims "Cable TV is Doomed"
The issue of a la carte is worth thinking about in terms of economics in general. We seem to have warped the idea of Capitalism into a la carte funding of everything in society with the notion of every part only being valuable if it is valuable in isolation. This is part of the current debate over health care and so much more. We also see this in "broadband" based on the notion that each wire should be self-funding. There's the converse problem of trying to create a blizzard of fees, tools and other nuisance charges to fund the commons by telling stories. Here too we see it playing out in broadband by saying that we could auction off all the spectrum in order to fund the wires that should make "spectrum" worthless. But why worry, it's just a story . isn't it? I'm glossing over the question of how we decide what the commons is - with a la carte textbooks are we going to simple teach people what the most local community believes in without challenging it? Responding more narrowly to the question of "cable": I agree that with the both the "demise" of cable since NBP is simply Cable V2 (with the fixation on highs speed for video) and the dangers of a la carte. It's the same as the newspaper problem. Fox News [sic] is entertainment and all-the-more important because it is profitable even if twisted. As I understand it Discovery et al are viable as part of a package but not on their own. And I'm willing to accept ESPN in the bundle if it gives me Discovery, History etc. But even then we already see it with so much of History about ghosts and supernatural stuff. PBS has Nova but also a lot of questionable content too. Perhaps this is the problem with Hulu -- it moves us towards a la carte. Maybe HBOGo is a better example of content as a part of whole rather than parts purely a la carte. We saw a similar situation in video games years ago when the market collapsed due to abundance. Things might be different now to the extent that high production costs have become an effective barrier to entry. This is a complex and fluid topic - for now it is important to be aware of the problems with the a-la-carte model as well as the issues with bundling. [ I also chuckle over History Channel's gyrations between nonsense programs and genuinely eye-opening ones. But even with a single channel, if they don't have wide enough appeal they probably could not survive. Sort of like the broader a la carte situation in microcosm. -- Lauren Weinstein NNSquad Moderator ] -----Original Message----- From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Lauren Weinstein Sent: Saturday, March 20, 2010 15:05 To: email@example.com Subject: [ NNSquad ] Atlantic article claims "Cable TV is Doomed" Atlantic article claims "Cable TV is Doomed" http://bit.ly/au5nkb (Atlantic) The author inexplicably says of the FCC's National Broadband Plan: "But the measure, if it passes, will accelerate the demise of cable television as the standard method of consuming television." Hmm. There's no measure there to pass as far as I know, just a series of recommendations, each of which will be in various combinations ignored, altered, sliced, diced, modified, mutated, skewed, skewered, and/or mutilated by Congress and the Courts. Anyway. As I've noted before, the concept of purely "a la carte" programming (regardless of the delivery mechanism) carries with it the risk of a "race to the bottom" of lowest common denominator programming that will appeal to the most people. It's hard to see how specialty channels (yes, including some of my favorites) could survive outside the subsidy model. The result could be a viewing universe consisting almost entirely of crime dramas, sports, and cheap unscripted ("reality") shows from professional producers, since these might be the main categories of programming that could attract sufficient stand-alone revenue to survive. No doubt some people might prefer such a universe, but I must admit that I would not. --Lauren-- NNSquad Moderator