Cable lobbyist wants net neutrality killed since we aren’t in ‘drastic times’

July 15, 2014
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The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA)¬†is the cable industry’s chief lobbyist organization. As such, they have quite a history of anti-consumer behavior.

In 2009, the NCTA joined those in favor of asking the FCC to allow cable operators limit video streams to HDTVs and DVRs. Basically, consumers would not have been able to receive movies from an analog connection. This was supposed to help stop piracy and allow the operators to offer movies earlier but neither of which were remotely true.

A few months later, the NCTA tried to claim that any net neutrality mandate would violate Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) first amendment rights. As Mike Masnick wrote at TechDirt:

“What he doesn’t explain is how. And that’s because he can’t. He stacks a few different concepts on top of one another to argue that net neutrality could prevent cable companies from “delivering their traditional multichannel video programming services or new services that are separate and distinct from their Internet access service.” Except, there’s nothing in the suggested FCC mandates that would do that. And even if it did, it’s still difficult to see how it would be a First Amendment violation. There are tons of very good reasons why we might want to avoid mandating net neutrality through law. But arguing that it will be a First Amendment violation isn’t one of them… and it makes me wonder why lobbyists fighting against the regulations keep bringing up such bad arguments.” - TechDirt.com

lobbyingreportsmentioningnn TechSpot

In 2011, Wired did a good story on the NCTA (and others) fighting to stop an FCC proposal that would have allowed consumers to view their all of their legally purchased content on any electronic device. In this proposal, a consumer would not be stuck with just the hardware given to them. So, the FCC was thinking of allowing the account holder to legally obtain their content on other services? It seems like a very consumer-friendly policy.

According to the NCTA, this would “ignore copyright, patent, trademark, contract privity, licensing, and other legal rights and limitations that have been thoroughly documented.”¬†Basically, the NCTA has little to no interest in accepting that tomorrow’s video marketplace is around the corner.

“Such a mandate would not only violate the affiliation agreements and intellectual property licenses under which multichannel programming is obtained and retailed, but it would also stunt the innovations that are taking place to provide consumers flexible access to content that programmers are incented to offer. The programming contracts and licenses define such critical features as channel placement, the type of advertising suitable for use with a particular programmer‚Äôs brand, uniform nationwide presentation of programming, and how MVPDs market to and retain their subscribers. Such terms cannot be replaced by merely passing along a ‚Äúcopy once‚ÄĚ command, as Sony/Google suggest.” - NCTA in Wired

Just a few weeks ago, the NCTA promoted how much broadband investment was occurring in today’s marketplace. Except, as Vox.com pointed out, the numbers that the NCTA was¬†using were not correct and when the correct numbers were put into the NCTA¬†formula, the actual conclusion was that broadband investment was far from increasing.

broadband Vox.com

Today, I read that the National Cable and Telecommunications Association has a message for everyone: Reject any Title II calls to reclassifying broadband. In their request, they claim that:

“Contrary to what some alarmists may claim, these are not drastic times, and they certainly do not call for drastic measures like a wholesale change in our approach to broadband regulation.”¬†- NCTA.com

It is interesting to see the NCTA claim that these are not drastic times. One only needs to do a simple bit of research to see that the NCTA does in fact believe that these are drastic/dramatic times in the broadband market. It just depends on whether the NCTA is benefitting or not from the situation.

  • When the NCTA discusses wireless spectrum and browsing:

“So why do we care about spectrum? Expanding broadband Wi-Fi access and creating a massive public network would be a game changer. With a new, broader spectrum Wi-Fi model in place, anyone could access the Internet from almost anywhere at any time. Aside from drastic improvements in web browsing, streaming video, and upload/download speeds on all Internet-connected devices, this effort has unlimited positive societal implications.” -¬†NCTA.com, 10/24/13

  • When the NCTA discusses the evolution of web-browsing and broadband speeds:

“The evolution of web browsers and the drastic improvement in broadband speeds over the last quarter-century tell fascinating stories ‚Äď stories that run parallel. Innovations in web browsing are the result of advancements in broadband connections.” - NCTA.com, 04/10/13

  • When NCTA President Michael Powell testified in front of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology:

“These¬†dramatic marketplace developments¬†warrant consideration of how to better reflect¬†the reality of today‚Äôs multi-platform marketplace. This market requires a greater degree of¬†business flexibility, fewer prescriptive rules, and an assurance that any government involvement¬†is applied on a technology-neutral basis and creates a better investment climate.”¬†- Michael Powell, 01/15/14

  • When the NCTA discusses cable networks and programming:

“Over the same period there has been a dramatic increase both in the number of cable networks and in the programming available to subscribers.”¬†- NCTA.com, 08/28/09

  • When the NCTA discusses energy savings:

“They have joined satellite and telco TV providers in an organized voluntary approach to achieve dramatic energy savings without sacrificing the ability to innovate and compete.”¬†- NCTA.com, 12/06/12

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