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Monday, October 4, 2010

All your media are belong to them.

1. Monopoly:

Exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices. 

Tired internet meme reference aside, the media landscape, from who owns it, to what people do with it, to what the definition of it is anymore, has changed. That’s a no-brainer. One thing that hasn’t: The monopolistic approach by service providers controlling your access to the media you use.*

Translation: Cablevision and yet another network are at it again, holding viewers hostage in some kind of à la carte rate increase for individual channels. It’s He Said – She Said, and the viewer doesn’t know who to believe. Is it Fox? Is it Cablevision?

All viewers know is that they might not be able to watch House come November 16. Cue violins.

Unfortunately, how much a cable provider makes from the channels they carry is being made the viewer’s problem – again. Like a bad marriage, the parents use the kids to get back at the other. Helping the cause are slick websites and Twitter accounts.

Like before, both sides say they don’t want to do this, after all, they did offer the other a fair deal, but... their hands are tied. Actually, it’s the hands of viewers that are tied because they’re the ones asked to not only play favorites, but pay for them as well.

Consider the amount of concurrent media usage going on now and in the future, from Netflix on iPhones to laptops in Grouponized coffee shops, the weakest link in the equation is still who controls access to it all. In this case, there are simply no comparable alternatives to Cablevision in this region of the Northeast.**

Forget net neutrality, flying under the radar are the games played by cable companies (and cell phone carriers). It’s telling – and sad – that the FCC and FTC can’t get together to simply mandate access be made available to all markets and viewers by any provider. With the question of accessibility then off the table, it becomes a matter of letting price determine which one you would choose.

Do you have just one type of car dealer or gas station in your city?

Here’s where social networks need to step up. Social media campaigns have been great at raising awareness for causes like breast cancer or natural disasters, but where they’ve been lacking is in holding service providers and elected officials accountable for how things have been controlled.

Like any inconvenience though, people will remain upset for only so long, then apathy kicks in as they adapt. After all, life without House isn’t so bad, not when Hulu makes any lockout tolerable.

As long as my internet doesn’t crap out.

*Cell phone carriers could easily fit into this discussion as well.
**Trust me, I’ve looked at every alternative, from Dish Network to AT&T’s U-Verse – it’s a no-go.

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