How about at least kissing us afterwards?

Broadcasting is about to take it up the backside once again, as another unpaid distributor of its product comes into view. The telecom industry — tired of losing ground to cable companies, who bundle phone service along with high speed Internet and television — is getting into the cable TV business. This is, of course, no bulletin, but news that the delivery will be via Internet protocol (IP) is most intriguing — especially coming from the Chairman of the FCC.

“Almost every major phone company I’m aware of has an initiative underway to begin to try to plug the hole with partnerships with satellite-delivered video but what they’re really working on is broadband-delivered IP (Internet protocol) television,” (Michael) Powell told reporters.

“That’s a major component that’s moving fast,” he said. Powell noted that TiVo Inc., famous for its digital television recorders, was joining up with online DVD renter Netflix Inc. to offer movies to a home via high-speed Internet, or broadband, lines.

Powell said it was unclear what regulatory obligations such as serving the public interest would apply to television via the Internet, if any.

So once again, regulated broadcasters will have to provide their content for a business model that offers nothing in return. The same thing happened when cable came along, and we had the whole “must carry” and “retransmission” battles. A handful of stations benefited by obtaining a second channel on the cable tier, but the vast majority of stations got channel position and little more.

But here’s the really BIG issue. If TV over IP is a viable method of home delivery, how long will it be before anybody can be a TV station? I have said this over and over again: everybody’s equal online. The cost of building a local video news entity have fallen to the point where anybody can do it, and Video On Demand (VOD) is the future. With AP talking about building a video archive, can “Terry’s PoMo News” be far behind? I think not, and I think THIS is an enormous threat to local broadcasters who — at least for the time being — own the local video news franchise.

UPDATE: Tim Hanlon, Starcom: “We see ‘television’ turning into simply ‘video’. The word ‘television’ carries business model connotations. But the future is a Video Ecosystem, where there’s lots of content, many touch points, and where consumers have control. To be successful, you have to deliver that video in whatever format the consumer wants to watch it in.” (From an advertorial by DVDMarketer.com)

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