Disney, CBS, Viacom worry FCC cable box proposal would do to TV what iTunes did to music
TheVerge.com reports that in a joint filing on April 22, a coalition of huge media companies including Disney, CBS, and Viacom told the FCC that they oppose its plan to open up cable boxes, according to the Los Angeles Times. The comment, which does not appear to be available publicly yet, reportedly argues that the plan would destroy a major source of revenue for cable companies, TV networks, and the studios producing their shows.
Their concern is said to be that new set-top boxes may present channels and TV shows in a different order than each cable company would like them to be presented in. That seems like a silly argument on the surface, but it matters because cable companies frequently have deals in place over the ordering and presentation of TV channels. This proposal would make those deals fall apart, destroying a source of revenue. It would also make it harder for content companies to bundle multiple networks together in an attempt to get viewers watching more of their shows. Therefore, the argument goes, less money for everyone.
The coalition is reported to be particularly concerned that these new set-top boxes will offer up shows individually, instead of presenting entire channels as cable boxes do today. Here’s how the LA Times describes the companies’ concerns: “That would leave the TV industry vulnerable to the same fate as the music industry after consumers began buying individual songs rather than entire albums and CDs.” Basically, it’d be a boon for consumer choice, but it’d mean much less revenue overall for the industry, since consumers would be able to choose the good stuff and ignore the bad stuff.
Disney, CBS, and Viacom are joined in the filing by 21st Century Fox, A&E Television Networks, Time Warner, and Scripps Networks Interactive, according to the report.