Tag Archives: FCC

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things #53745

Check this out – FCC’s Wheeler Proposing Set-Top Standards Enforcer.

Yes, the chairman of the Federal Communications Communications, the the increasingly ambitious and increasingly dictatorial federal government overseer of all things communication, wants to set up a whole bureaucratic authority to oversee set-top boxes, i.e. your cable box (and don’t be surprised when they decide to include your Roku or Sling Box).

WTF?

Despite somehow inventing and delivering perfectly functional cable boxes for decades, this overweening federal agency is edging towards a decision that somehow the cable box industry can’t work without the federali’s guidance.

The real gist of this is that the bureaucrats behind this want to control the content that goes through that box.

They may bray about “access,” as if it’s okay for people who don’t want to pay for the box have “rights’ to a box, but they are moving towards making the box just another “free” (subsidized and paid for by other people) “right” like an Obamaphone. Maybe it will be called a “Hillarybox.”

And the Hillarybox will have to distribute, under penalty of law, propaganda from liberal groups, free of charge because those groups (euphemistically called ‘stakeholders’) don’t want to pay to have their propaganda carried and many outlets don’t want to voluntarily  carry that propaganda.

Laugh all you want at my paranoia, this will happen if the feds get control of cable boxes.

There simply is no Constitutional reason for the federal government to have any say whatsoever in the hardware used in our private cable systems.

As I’ve said before, given their way, liberals will politicize everything, every minute of our life and every thing we do in life. They see Orwell’s “1984” not as a warning but as a manual and as a goal.

Starz Lobbies Up

This is a story that most people might simply shrug their shoulders and say, “So what?”

But there really is more to it.

Starz is a cable channel (actually several channels) that focuses on movies but is increasingly, like its competitors such as HBO and Showtime, developing limited-run series.

So why would a cable subscription TV channel hire a politically-connected (and expensive) Washington, D.C. lobbying firm, the Glover Park Group?

Good question. An obvious answer would be to protect itself from government regulation and harassment. But that doesn’t seem to be Starz’s reason.

There’s some hint in the story and press release that it wishes to influence Washington policy makers. Influence them how?

The announcing release said: “As the multichannel video industry continues to consolidate, lawmakers and regulators are increasingly focused on ensuring that the public interest in access to quality, diverse programming is preserved and promoted. Through outreach to government officials and communications within the Washington, DC market, Starz plans to work with the Glover Park Group to educate key stakeholders about the programmer’s outstanding array of shows, including its breakout hits ‘Power’ and ‘Survivor’s Remorse.’ Both shows have received strong viewership and critical acclaim driven by their appeal to the traditionally underserved African American audience.

It adds, “Ensuring that the public interest in access to quality, diverse programming is preserved and promoted.”

What?

That sounds a little odd. What business is it of the federal government what is available to the public on private TV networks?

Furthermore, what is it Washington’s concern that Starz seems to be promoting its programming aimed at “African-American” audiences? If Starz wants to promote the programs let it do it the traditional way — in the forum of public media.

I’m afraid that Starz is trying to use the power of the federal government to promote its programming and considering the debate over “set-top boxes,” likely trying to shoehorn its offerings into mandatory basic packages that the cable retailers offer. That is, forcing cable TV distributors to carry the package because of “diversity” requirements that certain people at the FCC want to mandate if (and when), the FCC decides to start regulating content. Don’t laugh, it’s already being proposed in the bowels of the agency and inside the Democratic party. Washington wants to control what you watch — and you can bet that it will be liberal propaganda (with diversity! i.e. a variety of approved skin colors not diversity in thought).

One more multiheaded point. The Glover Park Group is one of dozens similar groups in Washington that actually do nothing other than act as an interface between citizens and the evergrowing government. Not surprisingly the principals and employees of these groups are often ex-government employees and legislative aides and even legislators themselves who created these regulations in the first place. It’s a really lucrative gig — shaking down the rest of America.

They are parasites living off of your hard work while they force you to pay to jump through hoops they created.

You have to hire this mosquito to navigate the mosquito-infested swamp…

Not surprisingly this group, like most of them, is packed with liberals and it caters and contributes to the Dem party. So now, some of your Starz fee will be going into the pockets of the DNC. This is a self-perpetuating, cycle since the DNC and its supporters/enablers want to increase the government’s power and role in your life. It’s a downward cycle that isn’t going to stop itself.

How do we stop companies from needing to hire expensive Washington lobbyists?

One is that they need to stop hiring and promoting the liberals who want to make Washington the master of your business and your life. Secondly, they need to have a company policy to stay out of politics (many did but once liberals ascended the corporate ladder they changed that). Third, shareholders, owners, customers need to start pushing back. Fourth, the government and its tentacle agencies need to be trimmed and many even removed.

If Washington has less power, fewer people will want to go there and fewer of us will have to pay for it.

Obama to the Set Top Box Rescue!

Riding in on his unicorn comes our glorious president, The One, to make sure that those evil cable companies… uh… are suitably understood to be evil (they make a profit!!!!!)… and, um… have to be taught a lesson… so something good here about your set top box. Maybe it can be free or subsidized or it can be made to provide every programming channel in the known universe for no extra cost! Something magical and free about the set top box is coming to you or someone, in the classic Obama fashion. They’ll figure out the details later — after some poll-testing.

Yes, Pres. Obama has once more inserted himself into an issue that should rightly be none of Washington’s concern. The attempt to regulate or control every flippin’ moment and activity of our lives continues unabated.

Our cable systems should be none of the FCC’s business. They do not take up public airwaves. They are privately funded and are private space. They are enabled by localities — cities, counties and state. That is where such proposals and debates need to take place — not between FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s ears and then become yet another cycle of bread and circuses for Obama to present to the peasant masses to win their votes and distract them from more important things.

It should also be noted that making the cable companies provide the option of using other companies’ set top boxes is like requiring GM to offer Ford engines as options for its cars and vice-versa.

Cable services are not a right, they are a voluntary service. How companies configure them is up to the company and its approach to the market. Consumers vote with their pocketbooks

I happen to like the idea of multiple box options but I see no mandating reason to make it a law or a regulation. I, honestly, don’t think Obama and Wheeler (and liberals in general — along with more than a few Republicans) understand that difference. Just because something might be good doesn’t mean it has to be required or governed by Washington.

It should also be noted that Google is for this mandate because they see a way to get their nose further into the tent and weaken their competitors, the big cable companies.

Here are two stories on the topic: “President Obama Backs Wheeler’s Set-Top Proposal, Big Time” and “D.C. Weighs In on President’s Set-Top Support.”

The Care and Feeding of Topsy

It’s a sad axiom of government that once a program is started it will forever grow, eventually moving far beyond its intended purpose and scope.

While we are replete with thousands examples, I shall apprise you of a recent one that has come to my attention.

Ronald Reagan, bless his heart, had a blindspot for Rooseveltian social claptrap. It was a left over from his days as a Democrat. One of Reagan’s leftovers was a program called “Lifeline,” aimed at maintaining basic phone service for isolated senior citizens.

This was back in the early days of phone deregulation, the 1980s. Telephones were still sort of new back then, or at least not taken for granted. There were senior citizens who remembered having their first phone installed at their home. It was still a luxury to have more than one phone in the house, though that was changing. Long distance calling was still expensive, though thanks to Craig McCaw it was coming down. Cellphones had not been invented yet.

Lifeline was to be a small program, paid for by those nickle & dime “fees” that you read about on the back of your phone bill (like the one instituted to pay for the Spanish-American War but was only finally removed more than a century after the war ended). No one thought much of it because no one wanted Grandma to be without a phone and it was just a few pennies a month, right? Besides, back then even grandmas scrimped and saved to pay their bills. Nobody was going to call them deadbeats!

Fast forward 30 years to now. That cute little puppy of a program has grown into mangy adult coyote, complete with its own Washington lobby, army of rentseekers and disingenuous activist supporters.

Lifeline, in the eyes of the FCC, is now morphing into a broadband Internet entitlement that people of “low-income” are, well, entitled to. In fact, the cable television industry lobby group, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, wants to add in more than just basic services, because, as it says, consumers want choice (especially when other people are footing the bill).

There’s no such thing as “beggars can’t be choosers,” in this day and age. I’d surmise that many liberals would insist that it is those very beggars who should be given the most choice. That’s how they think in their upside down world.

The Democrats at the FCC are pushing to fatten it up as well.

Adding fuel to the fire — Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut (a Democrat, of course), has written a letter to the FCC (and the Veterans Administration) insisting that Lifeline be expanded to cover all military personal and veterans.

I guess that would make a new recruiting tool — Join the Army, get free broadband for life. If that doesn’t raise the patriotic fervor of today’s kids and older couch potatoes, I don’t know what will.

Laugh now that some think broadband Internet should be considered a basic of daily life. In a few more years you’ll be paying for it (assuming you’re one of the 50% that actually pays taxes and for your Internet – which will be deemed a ‘human right’ by some.).