Keep Govt. Umpires out of Fox-Cablevision Property / Contract Talks

by Mike Wendy on October 18, 2010

UPDATE (1 PM, Tuesday, Oct 19): FOX CIRCULATES HOUSE LETTER URGING GOVERNMENT REGULATORS TO STAY OUT OF NEGOTIATION FRAY (via The Hill)

UPDATE (3:45 PM, Monday, Oct 18) : FCC “FAQ” ON FOX-CABLEVISION RETRANSMISSION NEGOTIATIONS

The Washington Post had an article on Saturday about the contentious retransmission talks between Fox and Cablevision (“Fox to restore Internet videos to Cablevision customers”).

Briefly, Fox believes that Cablevision viewers shouldn’t have access to its valuable programming, as the two parties hammer out an agreement for Fox content to be viewed on Cablevision systems.  At one point this weekend, Fox also pulled its programming from Hulu.com (which is partly owned by Fox’s parent, News Corp), blocking Cablevision Internet subscribers from viewing Fox content.

If you’re a subscriber to Cablevision (or highly value Fox’s properties) you may think otherwise – but all of this is good.  It represents the way markets should work.  You want something?  Then, what’s it worth to ya’?

MLB playoffs – though part of our national culture – do not rise to the level where property should be misappropriated by government action or court order.  They should stay out of the process (though Senator John Kerry, as if the economy isn’t important enough, wants to introduce legislation to ban / limit this type of behavior).

Those subscribing to Cablevision may be inconvenienced by the negotiations (I wouldn’t deny that).  But, if Cablevision viewers want to watch continually high-quality productions and content, then they should let the market do its job.

Value must be paid for.  Sorry.

As noted in the post article, the media-Marxists at Free Press find the  (faux) controversy troubling:

“Fox’s actions raise important questions about the future of the online video market and the public interest obligation of broadcasters,” said Derek Turner, policy director at public interest group Free Press. “Consumers should have the right to watch online content, and this access should not be tied to a dispute over cable television carriage arrangements.”

Wrong, Derek.  Valuable content is the property of no one but the creator’s.  It is not free, and does not become any more free because it gets transmitted over the Internet.   Someone has taken risk to produce the content, and it should be rewarded if it is valued.  And it is – highly.

Quite simply, this is no more than a contract / property dispute, which should be allowed to play out in the marketplace.  To conflate this with anything else – such as with concerns surrounding the Comcast / NBC merger, or Net Neutrality – is a red herring.

Let’s keep the government umpires out of this dispute.

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