The cogs are still turning on Net Neutrality (NN) issues, in both the US and India – but they seem to be turning in opposite directions. In the USA, outgoing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made an impassioned plea to keep the NN rules he wrote. And the FCC accused AT&T of violating those rules, in its DirectTVNow data plan. But both the accusation and the plea seem to be falling on deaf ears, as opponents of the Wheeler approach take positions of power in both Executive and Legislative branches. (It’s important to keep in mind that there is a lot more consensus about keeping the internet open, than about the Wheeler approach, which imposed unprecedented full-on regulation of ISPs in order to achieve that aim.) Meanwhile, in India, the TRAI is moving forward to formulate the details of its approach to NN
issues. (It’s under plenty of pressure from the NN mullahs.) Meanwhile, Star-TV filed a brief with strong argumentation on one aspect of NN — that ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to charge differently for different-origin data.
According to a report in the New York Post Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam recently said that he wants to buy into one of the major cable companies. According to the Post’s sources, it could be a company as huge as Charter or Comcast. Any cable deal would help the company grow the demand for its wireless data products and answer rival AT&T’s moves to buy DirecTV and Time Warner. McAdam has already given Wall Street and investors an indication that he’s looking for the right opportunity, telling Wall Street analysts it “makes industrial sense.”
As someone who has been known to dabble in stocks, I noticed a huge move in Netflix yesterday as it was up about 8%. According to CNBC, “The company said it added 7.05 million subscribers during the fiscal fourth quarter…that figure well above its own expectations of 5.2 million…was the largest-ever quarterly subscriber growth in its history….added 1.93 million memberships in the U.S. and 5.12 million internationally ” But maybe the “Bulls Are Making A Big Leap of Faith.” As is Jerry Seinfeld who just inked a deal with Netflix encompassing new stand-up specials, scripted and non-scripted series as well as new episodes of Comedians in Cars.
It took a little longer than expected, but Space X has successfully returned to flight, launching an Iridium satellite this past weekend. Having completed the investigation into last year’s explosion (which it refers to as an “anomaly”), the launch company is about to get very busy; and that’s even before it begins its ambitious (understatement) plan to launch 4,425 satellites to provide “a ubiquitous global service”. It still has to absorb the cost of the explosion, though, and it’s still got a way to go before it proves to NASA that it is safe enough to launch astronauts into space.
There’s been some attention this week to the corollary damage done by piracy. In the UK, the Industry Trust spoke out, warning that “the vast majority of parents who engage in digital TV piracy have no idea of the associated risks to their families.” Kids who got ISD boxes and sticks for Christmas are exposed to pornography and malware, said the trust. In South Africa, there was a different warning: a consultant’s report warned that 1 in 3 torrent sites contain dangerous malware, and 45 percent of the malware found on the sites was of the “drive-by” type that infected a computer just from viewing the material – no supplementary clicks required.
Stratechery has a very thoughtful piece this week titled The Great Unbundling. It looks at media models of the past and present and then tries to define how the future will look. It’s fantastic piece for those responsible for taking their media business forward. “Once those (behavioural) shifts start to happen in earnest there will be feedback loops in everything from advertising to content production to consumption that will only accelerate the changes, resulting in a transformed media landscape that will impact all parts of society. I’m starting to agree that the end is nearer than many think.”
True Visions is still being threatened with big fines by the consumer advocate lobby in Bangkok, over its rejiggering of its content bouquet. The platform operator pointed out that relatively few consumers seem upset, as only 500 subscribers (of 300,000) have cancelled their contracts and asked for a refund. But the upset ones are the loud ones, it seems.
Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) is preparing a draft media funding bill for public discussion in the next legislative session. Currently, the government military, and political parties are banned from investing in media companies, and NCC Chairwoman Nicole Chan says there is no plan to change that in the near term. However, the NCC acknowledges that media companies need access to funding to produce high quality content, and is therefore proposing a public fund be established to invest in content development. In other Taiwan cable news, the NCC is predicting that the island’s cable networks will be full digitised by the end of 2017.
A little light reading: Paramount and CBS are pursuing a copyright action to block production of a feature film using the world of “Star Trek” and made by a so-called fan-fiction outfit. But this outfit was aiming to make money, by using professional actors (including some who actually appeared in previous Star Trek series), paying lavish attention to detail, achieving high production values and marshalling a proposed production budget of just under US$2 million. So…..is this “fair” use of the established copyrights????? I sure don’t think so…..but in the U.S., only the court knows for sure.
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