Consumer Groups Want Antitrust Probe Of TV EverywhereBy: Mike Sachoff - January 4, 2010
Free Press and a number of other consumer groups are calling on federal antitrust authorities and Congress to investigate agreements among large media companies to stifle competition for online television programming.
In a report, Free Press details how giant cable, satellite and phone companies and many programming networks, led by Comcast and Time Warner, are colluding on TV Everywhere that requires consumers to pay for cable TV subscriptions to access online programming. Free Press maintains TV Everywhere is designed to eliminate the threat of online competition, limit consumer choice, and build on the cable TV model it says gouges consumers.
"This is a textbook antitrust violation," said Marvin Ammori, a law professor at the University of Nebraska, senior adviser to Free Press, and author of the report.
"The old media giants are working together to kill off innovative online competitors and carve up the market for themselves. TV Everywhere is designed to eliminate competition at a pivotal moment in the history of television. The antitrust authorities should not stand by and let the cable cartel crush Internet TV before it gets off the ground."
In a blog post by the President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Kyle McSlarrow, wrote, "TV Everywhere, specifically, would provide a new service at no extra charge to consumers who subscribe to a multichannel video programming service – whether provided by cable, satellite or telephone companies: the ability to watch TV programs on PCs or laptops, and potentially other Internet-connected devices. It could significantly increase the amount of high-value video content available online – something the FCC has said would help drive broadband adoption."