WAKT What the heck does WAKT stand for? Well, I figured it was time to issue my traditional warning about "We All Know That…" thinking. The kind of thinking and argument that has been used against the cable industry for years, and, unfortunately, has been very successful in the past. Can we respond more forcefully this time? There’s no doubt the arguments are coming again. For instance, we all know that the big broadband companies, the telcos and cable companies control the Internet going into the home… they are "gatekeepers," and they can and will control what you can do and see on the Internet. "We All Know That…" cable is more expensive than satellite video delivery and that the pictures delivered by satellite are better than cable’s. For that matter, it has long been established, and "We All Know That" cable operators price gouge. And of course, WAKT cable is an unregulated monopoly! As soon as you hear someone start the argument with WAKT, you should listen very carefully to the opening premise, and the betting here is that you will be able to challenge that opening statement in order to question the entire direction of the issue being raised. A few simple examples should suffice. Let’s take those "WAKT’s" above in reverse order. Jack Valenti, the legendary head of the MPAA was the crafter of the "unregulated cable monopoly" line. He said it repeatedly every time he gave a speech, testified before Congress or wrote an article. And sometimes, I suspect, he whispered it in his sleep. It worked. That cable was an unregulated monopoly became a WAKT. The only problem was that it has never been true. Cable has always been regulated. Indeed, it is one of the most regulated businesses in the telecommunications sector. Further, delivering video to the home has never been a monopoly either! All you have to do to analyze our price structures is look at the price others are charging to deliver video to the home. In many cases, DBS is now more expensive than cable, especially when cable is sold in bundles. Just do the math on Internet sales of a single one-hour program compared to what cable delivers, and the notion that we are charging excessive rates because we are somehow a monopoly goes up in smoke. DirecTV is now running ads suggesting that its pictures are better than cable’s. But in most cases both are delivering digital feeds, and if the feed is successfully received, it is processed the same way. A bit is a bit. In fact, there is every indication that DBS is compressing their digital feeds more than most cable operators. So if we want to get technical, our bit feed is probably better than theirs! And finally we get to the WAKT about cable and telephone ISPs blocking material on the Web, controlling what Web sites people can go to, and in other nefarious ways taking control of this powerful new medium. Well, the folks making those claims and calling for "net neutrality" legislation are taking a page from Jack Valenti’s book. They figure if they say it enough times, it will be seen as true, even though there is simply nothing, factually, to back it up. We can’t let them get away with it. There is a lessening chance that such legislation will get through this year, but in the next Congress it is very likely this battle will take place again. We have to challenge, right up front, any argument that predictably starts with "We All Know That…"

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