With Genachowski, Adieu To A La Carte? [Multichannel News]
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported that President-elect Barack Obama intends to nominate Julius Genachowski as the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Currently a venture capitalist in the DC area, Genachowski was a Harvard Law School classmate of the president-elect and is widely regarded as tech-savvy, as he helped craft the Obama campaign's Internet strategy.
This article in Multichannel News profiles the likely changes at the FCC regarding a la carte cable programming under a Genachowski chairmanship. While a la carte has been a pet peeve for outgoing Chairman Kevin Martin, the issue is likely to take a back seat to other issues according to the Commission watchers quoted in this article.
Even though some would say this is a loss for consumers, I don't agree. I've written here before that a la carte initially sounds like a great idea -- being able to pick the cable networks you want on your lineup and avoid having to pay for the ones you don't watch. But, a la carte fails to take into account that cable programming relies on advertising dollars, which is driven by viewers many of whom surf through the channels and happen to land on a particular network. Take away those viewers, advertising revenue dries up, and one of two things has to happen -- either consumers have to pick up the tab or the network has to make due with much less.
Frankly, in this economy, even more networks would simply cease to exist, limiting choice and diversity. The current cable distribution model provides for a wide-ranging lineup of programming at a very good price. Think about the endless entertainment and information options available on expanded basic cable for about $2 a day. Add all the digital offerings and it's still less than $3 a day.
I look forward to a fresh regulatory approach at the FCC under a Chairman Genachowski. He brings great credentials and life experience to the job and I'm hopeful that the key regulatory agency will focus on the big, important subjects confronting telecommunications policy. Let's quickly begin to discuss the important policy issues openly and honestly. For cable, that includes things like net neutrality, broadband deployment, our own digital conversion, and network management practices. We can work together to set policies that encourage investment, nurture competition and result in world class, 21st century telecommunications services for the American people.
We all want that.
And please. No more midnight meetings!
Chrome gets Mac deadline, extensions foundation [CNET News]
Chome, Google's entry into the web browser world, was launched for PCs about six months ago. Based on recent announcements from Google, Mac users can look forward to test driving Chrome in about another six months. The browser is an attempt to rethink the way people use the web today versus fifteen years ago, when the first browsers were being created. When first released for the PC, there were some issues with Chrome (particularly security issues). Here's hoping Google can get all the bugs worked out when it releases the Mac version of its browser.
PA Man Charged With Selling Hacked Cable Modems [Broadband Reports]
It just goes to show you that selling modified cable modems designed to "steal the Internet" is not a good idea. A Pennsylvania man, Thomas Swingler, was arrested by the FBI charged with selling hacked cable modems that allowed users to set their own downstream and upstream speeds, regardless of which speeds they purchased from their cable operator. Speed settings work by allocating a certain amount of bandwidth at any given moment to a modem. When you pay for a certain amount and then increase the speed, you're actually getting more bandwidth than you pay for. How is this different than buying a can of Coke and putting another one in your pocket and not paying for it?
Swingler was selling the hacked modems via a web site when the FBI took note, purchased one of Swingler's modems, and sent an undercover FBI agent to interview him about the modems. Swingler promised his customers his activity wasn't illegal and would never be detected.
Guess what. It was both. And now he's looking at a lengthy prison term as a result.
ComScore: In U.S., MySpace-Facebook race goes on [CNET News]
Facebook's U.S. user growth is on pace to pass MySpace early next year. Both popular social networks are experiencing rapid growth in users, but Facebook is growing faster - both in the U.S. and abroad. Last week, Facebook added its 150 millionth user worldwide. But even though Facebook is catching up in total users, MySpace is still holds a giant lead in total pageviews on its site over Facebook. Pageviews translate to advertising dollars for the social networks.