Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Watchdogs Attack TV Everywhere

A coalition of consumer groups and media watchdogs is calling for an antitrust investigation into the TV Everywhere service being touted by several large media groups, chiefly Time Warner Cable and Comcast.One of them, Free Press, put out a report on the matter called “TV Competition Nowhere: How the Cable Industry Is Colluding to Kill Online TV.

”The charge is that the two giant cable/internet ISPs, along with satellite broadcasters and big programmers, are tying a great deal of desirable online programming to an MVPD subscription, thus heading off possible competition from online services, limiting consumer choice and opening up the possibility of building “…on the cable TV model that gouges consumers.”

"This is a textbook antitrust violation," said report author, Free Press advisor and law professor Marvin Ammori. "The old media giants are working together to kill off innovative online competitors and carve up the market for themselves. TV Everywhere is designed to eliminate competition at a pivotal moment in the history of television. The antitrust authorities should not stand by and let the cable cartel crush Internet TV before it gets off the ground.

"Free Press’s Ben Scott sees the internet as a venue that may finally host an effective competitor to cable television, and does not want to see that possibility nipped in the bud. He said, "Internet TV could actually inject much needed competition into a TV market long dominated by cable companies -- this is a valuable opportunity to provide greater innovation for consumers. More competition means lower prices for consumers. The Internet offers the potential for democratizing the TV screen now controlled by a handful of powerful media companies. We urge antitrust authorities to move immediately to promote competition.

"The coalition includes Free Press, Media Access Project, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative, Public Knowledge, and the Participatory Culture Foundation.

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