Tales of the Sausage Factory

I Go Away for a Week and AT&T Gets Cocky

So I trot off to enjoy my regular vacation from the 21st Century at the annual Pennsic War to discover that AT&T has taken my brief absence as an excuse to get cocky and suck up even more to the Bush Administration by block Pearl Jam’s anti-W lyrics. “Oopsie,” says AT&T. “All an honest mistake! Really!” Except — surprise! — it now appears that AT&T may also have blocked other groups during other live performances when criticizing Bush.

Isn’t it amazing how these “accidents” always seem to go in one direction rather than another? For example, wasn’t it just the most amazing coincidence last year when Comcast “accidently” snipped off an embarassing clip from a video on demand news report?

One may ask why these companies try to get away with such nonesense. The answer is (a) it doesn’t hurt them to try; and (b) they do get away with it. Especially when it comes to time sensitive speech, there is really no penalty for AT&T, Comcast, or any other megacorp with market power to engage in this form of corporate censorship.

On the other hand, as I observed recently, the potential rewards of sucking up to this administration can be quite considerable. AT&T has certainly shown it knows how to suck up to this Administration. And, in return, the Bush Administration Department of Justice let through the AT&T/BellSouth merger with a nod and a wink.

So we can expect to continue to see such “accidents” in the future, while the corporations and their cheerleaders brush off such corporate censorship as inconsequential random events that cannot possibly warrant prophylactic regulation. That we have achieved the worst excess of government censorship through the simple expedient of outsourcing is ignored and disregarded by these Libertarian defenders of the status quo in much the same way they ignore the reality that certain forms of regulation are a necessary prerequisite to genuinely competitive markets. But better the forms of free speech and the trappings of competition then actual free speech and real competition — if the cost of achieving either is to admit a flaw in the sacred dogma of the Gods of the Marketplace.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Censorship Public and Private, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Talking Dirty for the Public Interest

On December 20, the Second Circuit heard oral argument on an appeal from FCC indencency decisions involving some naughty words spoken live in prime time during the Fox Billboard Music Awards. Some analysis and cynical snark below.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Too bad this didn't happen last week

Apparently, Comcast’s video on demand (VoD) version of ABC’s July 14 “Nightline” did not match the actual show. According to this report, the Comcast version on VoD eliminates a rather embarassing minute of film for Comcast. Was it deliberate censorship or an encoding error from ABC, as Comcast claims? We may never know for sure, but I wish it had happened last week while the FCC was still considering whether our claims that Comcast might censor news to millions if the FCc approved the Adelphia transaction were merely “idle speculation.”

More below . . . .

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Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

TotSF: Industry Mobilizes to Stop Philly WiFi

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! As recorded in this article about last night’s community meeting in Philly, Verizon has mobilized to squash municipal wifi in Pennsylvania. This little gem, called House Bill 30, is a classic: it provides huge new public subsidies for Verizon while squeezing out competitors. My analysis below.

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Posted in How Democracy Works, Or Doesn't, Series of Tubes, Spectrum, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments (Comments closed)
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