by Dan Moren
Comcast, FCC continue to spar over cable box competition proposal
Great overview by Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica of the battle between the FCC and Comcast about opening up cable boxes:
Comcast’s claims that it can’t comply with the rules may not fly with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. When Comcast unveiled its app for third-party devices, Wheeler called it proof that the FCC’s proposal can work. Moreover, the FCC plan to make content and data available outside of cable company apps is superior because there’s no guarantee that Comcast will continue supporting its applications, he said. “That which Comcast giveth, Comcast can taketh away,” Wheeler said at the time.
I accept that there may be things about this process that Comcast thinks are difficult, but a lot of what it’s saying sounds like FUD. Or, in the words of Public Knowledge’s Adam Goldberg (from the same article):
“No matter how much they protest about the technology, their real argument is with competition, consumer choices, and innovation, and a desire to preserve the $20 billion annual rent they extract from their customers,” Goldberg said. (That $20 billion figure actually refers to the entire pay-TV industry, and it comes from a study conducted by Democratic senators.)
As a middleman, Comcast is going to try very, very hard to keep a tight grip on their profits while their business model is eroded from every side. The company’s attempt to get ahead of the curve with its partner program was not the worst idea, but right now it feels like too little, too late. (And, as Chairman Wheeler points out, also continues to give Comcast the ability to rescind support at its own discretion.)