[opendtv] Re: Whether collusion is necessary

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 00:29:32 +0000

Craig Birkmaier wrote:

> Some of your analogies do not hold water. The government is HEAVILY
> involved in the design of your car and for the past fifty years has
> been adding layers of mandates  in the name of public safety or
> environmental concerns.

Craig, your urge to launch into libertarian diatribes makes you miss the point.

Government regulations, for safety or efficiency, are hardly what we're talking 
about here. The government does not make it so that local utility companies can 
mandate use of only their home equipment. That's what the MVPDs do, with their 
proprietary PVRs and mandated use of proprietary STBs. And roadways are not 
built to accept cars designed with just one style of wheel and tire. Nor does 
GM force me into an infinite revenue stream, by mandating that I use a special 
blend of GM fuel "or else." This is what MVPDs do.

We're not talking about safety or pollution regs, or schemes to prevent theft, 
that apply equally to all. We're talking about collusion, when it's absolutely 
*not needed*.

> First, there is the issue of standards; there are many, and some are
> industry specific - cable and DBS are good examples. But DRM is the
> 800 pound gorilla, which has allowed the content producers to dictate
> device design. Manufacturers are free to design devices to support both
> industry and proprietary standards.

Like I said, Craig, the Amazon site downloaded whatever DRM scheme they were 
using, into my PC. There's no excuse at all for DRM to create collusion. I 
would only object if this DRM would only work on Amazon PCs. Otherwise, you're 
simply off topic. Paying for content is not the reason or excuse for 
underhanded deals, anymore.

> But then you run to the defense of the proprietary FLASH standard.

A de-facto standard, that *any* device can (or could, anyway) install. No 
problem at all. The reader is free, even. So this is not encroaching on 
anything, or crippling my device. Again, off topic.

> you can bet that the content owners want two things:
> 1. To be paid for the content;
> 2. To protect their existing customers who may be disadvantaged, or
> worse, become extinct, through the innovation of new competitors.

#1 has been answered. On #2, BS. The "customers" you mention aren't the 
consumers, rather the previous middleman. For DRM, no need to collude with a 
service provider middleman. The ISPs and the CE companies don't need to ASSUME 
that the only way congloms can handle DRM is by colluding with THEM. It's 
simply false.

> For example, the politicians gave the NFL the right to block local
> broadcasts of their games when the game is not sold out, and to
> block access to out-of-market games when a local station broadcast
> that game to the local market.

Again, not the same thing at all. Blocking content across the board, for 
whatever reason, is fair game. You would only have a point if you said that the 
NFL makes special underhanded deals with a handful of auto companies, so the 
only people allowed into their stadiums must drive in with those approved cars 
only. The NFL *has no reason* to collude that way, right? Their profits do not 
need to be tied to the profits of Toyota. But any content owner is within his 
rights to block content from wide distribution, across the board. There's no 
collusion when they block all electronic distribution media.

> I agree that consumers are starting to understand the issues and
> push back. But I think the MVPDs are smart enough to figure out how
> to maintain control over the important bits, while allowing some
> innovations in what they offer and what they charge. The fact that
> they have extended access to third party devices that they do not
> control, or make additional money off of, says a great deal.

Sure it does, Craig. It says that the center of mass is no longer theirs. Just 
as it was not in the early days of CATV, when everyone tied into their isolated 
nets via NTSC analog receivers. The use of IP brings us back to that. Where the 
center of mass is not something the MVPD can control. **So**, the CE companies 
should have figured that out, instead of begging to collude.

> It should be obvious that Comcast is moving toward a platform that may
> run of many third party devices; the money they make from STB rentals
> is small compared to other income streams. And the PVR turned out to
> be a temporary replacement for the VTR; it is now easier to handle VOD
> from their own servers (cable) or via the Internet (cable and DBS).

This the same Comcast that made a huge deal about this overdesigned new 
proprietary STB/PVR combo, yes? I already commented on that. If you're now 
saying that this is a short-term stopgap measure, I might agree. That wasn't 
your argument before, though. Comcast could instead be offering their own web 
site, with all those same bells and whistles, with DRM, for their customers as 
well as others across the Web.


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