The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

All these channels I hate to watch

If you are like me and spend way too much time and money on your in home TV entertainment, you are also as confused as I am why the providers of such aren't seen as monopolies. Way back when (1984), the telecommunications was hit by something called Divestiture. AT&T was a monopoly, they said. It must be broken up and competition would reduce costs and increase innovation.

And so it was done. Prices sure have come down, haven't they?

At that time, I thought it was a bad idea. I later changed my mind. I think it was a good thing but poorly implemented. For instance, Divestiture came with a "network access fee". This fee was supposed to pay for the local operating companies to upgrade their equipment to all digital. Thirty seven years later, telecommunications is all digital and the fee is still there and higher than it was. Why are we still paying it? It was basically a charge to allow the long distance companies to more easily access us, the consumers. It should end. Now.

Back then, we didn't have digital satellite. You had an ugly antenna on your house (or rabbit ears on your TV set) or you had cable. You know about cable? They would come into your region, set up shop and lobby for a monopoly to provide television signals. If your county commissioners weren't corrupt before the cable companies showed up, they certainly were afterward.

It made sense that the cable companies got a monopoly. After all, they had to run the coaxial cable throughout the area (what we call "infrastructure") and there wouldn't be much point to investing all that money if you had to compete with someone else. It was reasonable at the time to give them a closed to outside competition marketplace. But when AT&T lost its monopoly, I got the idea that we could tear down other monopolies and the one I thought about most was cable.

My plan was simple: Turn over the delivery of the cable signal to the local operating phone companies. All a competing cable company would then have to do is offer content. The infrastructure would be in place, the customer would have choices in who provided his entertainment services. Who knows? We might not have to buy all those channels we don't want in order to get the few we do. Competition would give the customers more power.

But no one listened to me. The cable lobby was too powerful.

Sad, isn't it?

Sure, digital satellite service is the competition right now for cable. You really think so?


Pearl said...

I think you're absolutely right in all fronts here.

Reminds me of overhearing my grandpa once.  He was irritated -- income tax was to have been a temporary tax, a deadlined kind of tax, and here it was, 50-some years later (at the time I overheard him, anyway) and we were still taxing income...

Once we've agreed that money will change hands in a certain way, it will continue to do so...


Douglas4517 said...

I suppose I could have mentioned the telecommunications tax that was imposed in 1898 to fund the Spanish-American War. It was finally ended in 2006.

InspectorClouseau said...

Uh, oh...  A human changed his or her mind.  Whew!

Douglas4517 said...

I do it all the time... when faced with facts that are irrefutable and
suggest I was in error.