Can anyone with even the most nominal understanding of these businesses argue that having one company own the ESPN channel group along with the Fox regional sports channels would be good for consumers and competition?
There is simply no way to view the comments by a federal judge last week that he will not issue his decision in the lawsuit filed by the government to block AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner until after April 22 as anything but bad news for the telco behemoth. Also, the consumer media and some in the financial press went bonkers last week when Dish Network announced that Chairman Charlie Ergen was once again giving up the chief executive title. It was hilarious. If Ergen was really interested in turning over the reins to someone else, he would have recruited a big name chief executive to take over.
The Cable Act of 1992 was a mixed bag. Its program access provision gave satellite TV a big boost by giving operators the ability to distribute the most popular cable networks. But the retrans provision have proved to be anticompetitive and “a complete, absolute disaster for consumers.”
With more and more studios and programmers producing copycat streaming services, consumers are eventually going to figure out that they are getting less than when they subscribe to the overflowing packages of cable and satellite. And how they are all going to make money is puzzling.
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen once promised that he would meet all the broadband needs of consumers with the billions of dollars of wireless spectrum he was accumulating. Five years later, Dish Network has a contract to repair Samsung’s exploding washing machines, but no articulated plan for putting all that spectrum to work. This column originally appeared as the “Scherman’s Notebook” column in the March 1 Satellite Business News FaxUPDATE.