Cable Barons

Cable Barons

Friday, February 21, 2014


The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable could do more than mess with our TV and Internet bills. It could shape how many of us experience the flow of ideas. Brooke talks with communications law scholar Susan P. Crawford about the potential impact of this mega-merger on the information we access through Comcast's digital pipe. 


Susan Crawford

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [5]

"May" shape the flow of ideas? W Verizon FIOS, I can barely watch netflix, listen to pandora, I skip past streaming TV reports that pop up, I don't open portfolios and streaming media produced in "Socialist" countries like Finland, Italy, Germany with governments that have normalized up to 30x faster connection speeds than in the US at much lower prices….

Netflix's next logical move is to pay Comcast, Verizon etc. for the option to suppress its competitors, which would seem perfectly legal. So long as its the providers in control of the highway, the providers incentives are the exact opposite of those that motivate and satisfy users, innovators and the companies that were never born at all.

Feb. 25 2014 02:06 PM
Guy VanderLek from Wilmington, DE

This just in - Netflix to Pay Comcast for Smoother Streaming
Wall Street Journal ‎- by Shalini Ramachandran ‎- 30 minutes ago
Netflix Inc. has agreed to pay Comcast Corp. to ensure Netflix movies and television shows stream smoothly to Comcast customers, a landmark pact that could set a precedent for Netflix's dealings with other broadband providers


Feb. 23 2014 08:20 PM
RT from Santa Clara

A number of entities are involved with any transaction of information over the internet.

One way to meaningfully categorize these entities is

1) the source and destination together, having contracted to move information from the one to the other over a carrier infrastructure and

2) the operators of the collection of infrastructure carrier elements used by (1)

There may be but often is not participation of entities in both (1) and (2).

Media have generally depicted the “net neutrality” debate as a confrontation between on the one hand those in category (1) above, who want to move information and on the other hand those in category (2) who, some claim, want to nefariously favor some transactions of information over other transactions, in order to extract enhanced revenue from those favored.

This is a distorted view. Such manipulation and favor may indeed be intended and attempted in absence of FCC rules disallowing “neutrality. However, there is a second, significant reason for discrimination with respect to the cost structure that carrier operators present to their customers: among users whose connection is capable of allowing an equally high data rate, some users’ consistently high data rate demands commandeer disproportionately large portions of connection equipment compared to others, even though they pay the same as do those who demand much less usage of the same infrastructure. This leads to those who use more wires, fibers and transistors having their usage subsidized by those who use much less of these.

I see that that some who comment on this issue, including _On the Media_, have inadvertently convolved these two things - discrimination by content (and the free speech aspects that this presents) and discrimination by amount of resource required. The former is unfair and undesirable (and should not be allowed) and the latter is fair.

I have heard advocates mention “distance education” and “tele-medicine” and so on as among those enterprises potentially hampered by the imposition of “not-neutral” pricing. This is a canard. Many people want to get something for nothing, and prefer to disguise this desire with a mask of righteous, populist indignation.

Feb. 23 2014 08:00 PM
Ed Richards from Louisiana

While community broadband is a good idea, it was the state movie tax credits, and not broadband that brought a movie company to Lafayette. It is a shame that Louisiana is not using those tax dollar giveaways to encourage broadband. It would do a lot more for business and education than bribing movie companies to shoot in the state.

Feb. 23 2014 12:02 PM

Verizon's already messing w my flow… when I signed up w Fios it was so fast, then they came out with an even faster service that costs an extra 30 bucks or so and my current service slowed. I noticed that if a news story is streaming, I don't bother. It seems to junk up the laptop. But higher speed access at studio, all works fine.

Feb. 21 2014 08:59 PM

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