And now, here in America, we're living an ancient Chinese curse … these are, indeed, interesting times.
Here's a list -- in no particular order -- of some of the many things now in flux in our extended media eco-systems of content providers and conduit services:
- T-Mobile wants to get into the pay TV business. That is, if it doesn't merge with Sprint and/or Charter doesn't make a bid … or Dish doesn't make a move with its spectrum and combine with T-Mobile. Or Sprint. Got a scorecard?
- Both Congress and the down-to-three-commissioners Federal Confusion Commission are following the new Administration's lead and examining each and every rule about each and every thing with a mandate to loosen the rules governing everything.
- And the FCC under new Chairman Ajit Pai is working overtime at doing just that.
- No more Net Neutrality soon? Probably.
- No more set-top boxes favoring "edge" Internet companies (that means Google and Facebook, for example).
- Looks like we've finally hit the point of no return for the glut of classic linear cable networks. That's hitting hard on the bottom line of some of the biggies. (Can you say Viacom?) It's also revving up initiatives like the American Cable Association's (ACA) quest to dismantle bundling deals. I think that's gonna happen no matter what.
- Did our new President really cause NFL ratings to drop?
- Fox News leads cable news ratings for the 15th consecutive year (and why was anyone surprised when Trump triumphed?). The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reported that, partly because the President consumes so much of cable news across all channels, "This moment has the potential to be a second golden age for cable TV."
- Maybe Charter won't have to overbuild a million households after all. Chairman Pai says so, anyway. Amazing that forcing the creation of an overbuilder -- in the excuse of creating competition in places that can't support it -- was mandated by the FCC in the first place.
- Our new President seems to believe anything that criticizes him is "fake" news. Gotta admit, he sure is good at changing the subject. And he's been a hot topic for late night laughs.
- About data: ATSC 3.0 is undoubtedly coming -- along with spectrum headaches for conduit companies. But that, and some privacy rule changes that look likely, might just give cable operators and broadcasters access to more and better usable data. They either can't get the data now or are prohibited from using it.
- Regarding media ownership rules, couldn't agree more with the ACA (the small cable guys, not the rejuvenated healthcare act) that single market broadcast ownership of more than one station is another example of government ratcheting up retrans fees.
- But, it would be nice if a TV, radio and newspaper triumvirate could work economically in a small market … perhaps working hand in hand with a small cable operator. (Full disclosure, tried and failed at that in a small Montana town decades ago.)
- The Leader of the Free World declared all out war on a segment of the world's media … you know, the part that disagrees with him. And the FBI, just for fun. At the same time, his party's legislative representatives are canceling, postponing and/or blaming "paid protestors" for their interesting real and imaginative town halls. And, he's skipping the annual White House Correspondents dinner. End of a tradition. One more salvo in the new war.
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