Serving the public interest AND making billions in profits? Are these two areas mutually exclusive -- or inclusive?
News Corp. wants $1 per cable subscriber from Time Warner Cable -- otherwise it will pull its Fox TV stations as of Jan, 1. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) wants both parties to kiss and make up, so everyone can have their New Year's Day dose of football.
FCC licenses give Fox the right to make money AND the obligation to provide stuff in the "public interest." Cable companies will plead their unalienable right to do business with whom and how they want.
How did things get so messed up? We are in a new digital age -- but it isn't one with the big vision fulfilled, where every bit of video content is available on every screen used by U.S. consumers.
Time Warner and News Corp. fear their businesses will be left in the lurch should they not draw a line in the TV/video industry sand right now. Paranoia runs deep. News Corp. feels its TV stations need a dual revenue stream -- now -- just like cable networks, otherwise they can't survive; Time Warner doesn't believe paying more for programming is necessarily what its consumers want.
Cable bills are notoriously high these days. But I'm guessing there are more pressing issues on the minds of U.S. viewers -- maybe looking for a job; maybe worrying about soaring health care premiums. Those costs are much higher.
In a letter to both companies, Kerry says the two parties "have neglected the core interests of the millions of households that subscribe to Time Warner Cable in affected markets."
Core interests? I guess football is right up there with news, public affairs, and access to emergency community information.
A couple of years ago, Kerry was helpful in persuading the NFL to expand a late-season game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants to its broadcast TV partners. The game -- which featured the Patriots pursuing an undefeated season -- was to be aired on the NFL's narrowly distributed cable channel, the NFL Network.
Now Kerry hopes to avoid multiple mishaps in many markets and many Bowl games -- mistakes that will have U.S. consumers calling their own penalties.
Businesses shouldn't get away with under-delivering what is expected of them from their consumers. Still, there are other core issues for consumers -- of media and otherwise -- to consider.