Archive for DirecTV

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For God and the Phillies, both held hostage by Comcast

Looks like Catholic sports fans are getting it from both ends.

Last week, Comcast bumped the Catholic channel, which among other things broadcasts mass to shut-ins and the elderly, off of its basic tier and up to the more expensive digital tier. As with Comcast SportsNet, the cable giant is using must-have content to squeeze dollars out of its subscribers.

Sadly, at the end of my two-week run as the Philly Future Featured Blog, only 13 new people have signed onto Free The Flyers. Worse still, the Nationals have taken away the best reason for us all to meet up at a sports bar. But there are 263 of us, so we should do something.

Last week, I talked about the state franchising bill currently on the table in Harrisburg. Word is, the bill is stalled and might not make it through this session. The sticking point is “buildout,” with Verizon wanting to be able to choose where it builds and municipalities and consumer advocates wanting requirements to provide service to the rich and poor, urban and rural alike.

Verizon is still pushing like heck, though, so phone calls from constituents continue to be important and useful. Prometheus Radio Project, usually focused on issues of radio rather than TV, is hosting a page that explains who to call and what to say about Senate Bill 1247 / House Bill 2880.

Pondering how one might begin to compete with Comcast in Philadelphia, last week I ended a “meditation” with an imagined scenario in which News Corp purchased Earthlink.

I don’t want anyone to think I see that as any sort of fundamental solution. Choosing between a bundled wireless partnership and a monopolistic or even duopolistic triple play is not a choice that transforms our relationship to our communications infrastructure, at least not the way community ownership or even true open access does. But any competition would weaken Comcast and thereby strengthen other strategies for addressing its monopoly.

In fact, there are provisions in the contract Wireless Philadelphia negotiated with Earthlink that would give our city some protection in the event of a buyout.

Minneapolis, on the other hand, just signed a deal with a local Internet builder that needs a large up-front payment from its anchor tenant, the City itself, to afford the construction. Becca Vargo Daggett points out in her response to the contract that US Internet must seem like low hanging fruit to an AT&T just entering the wi-fi market or to the rapidly-expanding Earthlink. The contract offers no protection against a change in ownership.

Read more: Ownership Matters

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A Meditation on being the Most Screwed City in the Country when it comes to Pay-TV, as expressed through my Inbox

Thank you both for this information. The upshot is satellite providers will go out of business because they can’t compete with pay-TV providers that can also offer broadband.So there will only be two choices: the phone-video company and the video-phone company, unless you want to live on your cell phone. Right?

So, in Philadelphia, Verizon and Comcast will ultimately be the only possible service providers. Comcast already owns this city. Verizon will only consider extending service to Philadelphia if they get the legislation they want from Harrisburg (where the House Consumer Affairs Committee is holding a “wrap-up cable competition meeting“).

And even then they still won’t because Comcast is not required to license their local SportsNet to them, thanks to a special dispensation from the FCC. So we will have Comcast and only Comcast, with no end in sight.

Is Philadelphia completely screwed?

The only hope for Philadelphia out of this state legislation is a pledge from Verizon that they will build out the entire city of Philadelphia and a pledge from Comcast to license local content to its competitor. It’s far from my media utopia, but that seems like a fair exchange to me.

Public access stations should be allowed to opt-in to a “local content license package” for all of the local channels, with the fee divided by viewer share, or to license their channels on their own. This would make a new line of revenue available that would expand if the station got more viewers in the first case or if it offered better content in the second.

Rural areas are messed up for a different reason. The only place where satellite service has been growing is in more sparsely-populated areas where the wireline companies don’t reach. If satellite goes out of business, that option is shot. Without a cable, fiber optic, or satellite option, they are out of luck for TV and the World Wide Web. I’d love to hear what they want from the legislation to address that problem.

Now that I think about it, there is a third option for Philadelphia: Earthlink WiFi bundled with DirecTV.

(I’m told Verizon is already offering a bundle in Philadelphia that includes satellite TV. Has anyone else seen this? This might also be on option for fulfilling universal buildout requirements.)

The problem is, that might work in Philadelphia, but DirecTV can’t survive on Philadelphia alone. However, Earthlink is building or trying to build wireless broadband networks throughout the country. So maybe Earthlink should just buy DirecTV. Or maybe News Corp should buy Earthlink.

Uh oh.
Josh

At 1:55 PM -0400 9/19/06, Harold Feld wrote:
>My take: http://www.publicknowledge.org/articles
>
>Harold
>
>At 09:44 AM 9/19/2006, lcintron texasmep.org wrote:
>>As many of you might have expected, the slicing of our airwaves has been
>>completed with the final results: US COs 1087 licenses to US Residents 0.
>>
>>To see the official release and/or listing of TOP bidders and/or ‘small’
>>companies that they applied as, vist:
>>http://wireless.fcc.gov/auctions/default.htm?job=auction_summary&id=66
>>
>>NOTE: Link takes you all to a complete listing of who/whom/what as well as
>>a map of the US that shows the areas of wireless coverage. For those
>>attempting to address FCC concerns SAY TODAY IN AUSTIN, might be helpful
>>towards low power FM as additional research.
>>
>>Thanks for your time.
>>
>>Louis A. Cintron
>>Systems Administrator
>>Texas Media Empowerment Project
>>http://www.texasmep.org
>>lcintron texasmep.org
>>_______________________________________________
>>Activist mailing list
>>Activist mediatank.org
>>http://www.mediatank.org/mailman/listinfo/activist
>
>_______________________________________________
>Activist mailing list
>Activist@mediatank.org
>http://www.mediatank.org/mailman/listinfo/activist

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