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United States

DOJ Blocks Satellite TV Merger 237

EyesWideOpen writes "The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block a merger between EchoStar Communications and Hughes Electronics that would have created the nation's largest pay-television service, stating that 'This merger would give EchoStar control of the skies for the provision of video programming by satellite, leaving customers to suffer from the resulting reduction of competition'. The FCC had already voted unanimously to oppose the merger because it would create a monopoly that would have 'adverse' effects for consumers."
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DOJ Blocks Satellite TV Merger

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  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 ( 520073 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:48AM (#4576626) Journal
    Adverse effects??? Someone care to tell me where the hell these people were when Cable companies took root in my town??? Oh, did I say companies? I meant company... Adverse effects of that don't seem to bother these idiots... so much for affordable broadband via satellite throughout the country... so much for local tv service in real digital quality (not the digital BS cable has)... Ick... At first glance this seems like a great victory against monopolies... but what does it really mean???
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

      by stever00t ( 618001 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:13AM (#4576702)
      Cable companies and phone companies are often allowed to have a monopoly in a certain area of a town - it's perfectly legal when the town enters a contract with the cable/phone company.

      For instance, in my town of about 200,000 people, we have one cable company and one phone company - because we let them have a monopoly here in exchange for them laying down wire for the city (city owns it once they've laid it) and also making them push price changes, policy changes, important things like that before our city government - or risk losing their monopoly.

      I forget the name of the type of monopoly this is, but it's perfectly legal and (arguably) better for the population of a smaller city to have a company come in and wire the entire city just for being allowed a monopoly AND for the population to have relative control over the price and content offered.

      • Re:What? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Xenographic ( 557057 )
        They're called "natural monopolies," IIRC.
        • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

          by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @09:42AM (#4577928) Homepage
          Apparently, the concept of a "natural monopoly" is a myth that just won't die. Sorry, don't mean to pick on you personally, but this one just gets under my skin.

          Theoretically, a "natural monopoly" was supposed to occur when a business experiences reduced marginal costs with increased production. Normally, when production increases, marginal costs increase. This, supposedly, creates a situation that would allow the company to defeat all of its competitors. For example, once the electric company has run a wire to your neighbor's house, then it's cheaper for them to run a wire to your house than it is for a competitior to do so.

          Well, duh. But this doesn't lead to monopoly.

          There's a lot more to electric service than a wire, and the electric company will still experience increased marginal costs in all of their other areas, whether it be power generation, transmission from generation sources, customer service, billing, etc. Yes, their average cost MIGHT decrease, but the marginal cost, the one that supposedly leads to the natural monoply, does not decrease.

          Even if their marginal cost did decrease, if they tried to use that advantage to jack up prices, then they would simply make themselves more vulnerable to competitors. Despite the simplistic arguments that might fool a freshman economics student (and most Ivy League professors), there is no such thing as a natural monopoly.

          But, this myth has been used to create all sorts of REAL monopolies. Wonder why there's only one electric wire coming to your house? Or only one phone line? Or only one cable line? It's because this "natural monopoly" myth has been used as an excuse to encode these monopolies into law. So now, the electric company can raise your rates, but all they have to fear is the politicans, who can be bought off much more cheaply than millions of consumers.

          In some cases, I think creating public utilities has had good effects; electricity costs more than it should, but it's probably more reliable than it would be if it were delivered by market mechanisms. This shows up most after storms and other natural disasters, when repair people are dispatched far in excess of what could be justified by lost revenue. The increased costs aren't as bad as they might be in other industries, because the product is pretty simple, and it's pretty much the same thing that's deleivered to all customers.

          Cable, telephone, and Internet are another story entirely, though. There's absolutely NO REASON that a second cable or local telco company couldn't be profictable in many situations, but they're prohibited from running a wire to your house in the name of protecting competition.

          We've seen multiple phone companies wire the whole nation for wireless telecom over the last decade. Likewise for upcoming 3G/1XRTT services. If the "Natural Monopoly" theory were even remotely true, this wouldn't have been possible.
          • Theoretically, a "natural monopoly" was supposed to occur when a business experiences reduced marginal costs with increased production. Normally, when production increases, marginal costs increase.

            Wrong. Marginal costs do not always increase as production increases. In fact, in most cases marginal costs decrease as production increases. Up to a point, anyway, and marginal cost begins to increase again.

            This, supposedly, creates a situation that would allow the company to defeat all of its competitors.

            The point here is that there are no competitors. That is the definition of a monopoly.

            For example, once the electric company has run a wire to your neighbor's house, then it's cheaper for them to run a wire to your house than it is for a competitior to do so.

            No, it just doesn't make good economic sense for a competitor to run a cable to your house. Not much point in having two sets of electric wires, is there? That's a waste of resources and that translates to inefficiency.

            You have to compare a monopoly with pure competition in order to discover the concept of a natural monopoly. If the costs incurred by suppliers in a competition are equal to the cost incurred by a monopolist, then a pure competitive market is more desirable because marginal cost = marginal revenue. For a monopolist, price = marginal revenue and there is inefficienct use of resources.

            If there are ten companies each running wire to your house, the total cost for that is much higher than is one company ran wire to your house. This means that the marginal cost curve for a monopoly is much lower than that for a purely competitive market. It is this lowered cost curve that leads to a natural monopoly, that is to say a market that is more efficiently served by a monopoly than by competition.

            What are your credentials, anyway? You say "simplistic arguments that might fool a freshman economics student (and most Ivy League professors)," as though you have a PhD in Economics. Sounds to me like you didn't finish the chapter on monopolies.
            • >> What are your credentials, anyway?

              None. You either think I make sense, or you don't.

              >> Sounds to me like you didn't finish the chapter on monopolies.

              Well, if you mean the chapters in Das Kapital and Mein Kampf, you're right, I haven't.

              I repeat my earlier example... If there were such a thing as natural monopolies, there would be only one cell phone company by now. But in the last ten years, several of them have wired the whole nation.

              It's one of those ideas that makes some sense until you step back and think about it. The argument could be applied to any business, from a corner store to a car company... whoever is already established has an advantage, and therefore should be able to lock out all competitiors. Doesn't work that way, it turns out.
              • You don't make sense. But that is neither here nor there. Somehow you got modded up to +5, which shows that /. readers tend to be misinformed. Someone will repeat what you have said in this forum, and it is incorrect. I am trying to correct this so there might be a better understanding of economics on /., something that is sorely lacking around here.

                Natural monopolies *do* exist, but essentially only in cases where the good/service provided is a public good or a necessity. Cell phones are considered a luxury and certainly don't fall into either of the two aforementioned categories.

                Just because a company is established doesn't give it an advantage. Having a good reputation might, and better advertising might, along with other variables, but being established does not in and of itself give an advantage, and certainly not a monopolistic advantage at that. You are trying to apply arguments for one market configuration to a different market configuration. A corner store is likely part of a pure competition. An automobile manufacturer is part of an oligopoly. So is a cell phone provider. Neither are monopoly markets and neither works the same. You are comparing apples and oranges.
                • "Natural monopolies *do* exist, but essentially only in cases where the good/service provided is a public good or a necessity."

                  Drinking water is a human necessity. Is there room in the water market for a natural monopoly?

                  Cable internet is not a human necessity. Is there room in the cable internet market for a natural monopoly?

                  Why or why not? I am not well versed in finance, so maybe you could explain a little bit more.
            • I was wrong above...where I said, "in most cases marginal costs decrease...and marginal cost begins to increase again," I should have used "average total cost" instead of "magrinal cost." In fact a natural monopoly is based on the idea of decreasing average total cost and has nothing to do with marginal cost (save the fact that marginal cost and average total cost are related).
          • Re:What? (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Jayjay75 ( 468973 )

            Cable, telephone, and Internet are another story entirely, though. There's absolutely NO REASON that a second cable or local telco company couldn't be profictable in many situations, but they're prohibited from running a wire to your house in the name of protecting competition.


            Local governments grant regulated-monopoly status to one cable company, one telco, etc. simply to avoid having dozens of competing companies string wires all over the place creating an eyesore, or blocking traffic by constantly digging up roads to bury their own cables.
      • That's a public utility. Like the electric company, gas company, etc.
    • Relax (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dachshund ( 300733 )
      At first glance this seems like a great victory against monopolies... but what does it really mean???

      It means you won't be facing a monopoly in the sky just like the one you've currently got on the ground. I think the companies involved will muddle on through to providing the services you desire without merging into a mega-corp.

      • It means you won't be facing a monopoly in the sky just like the one you've currently got on the ground. I think the companies involved will muddle on through to providing the services you desire without merging into a mega-corp.

        It means that you will only get a few local markets off the bird(s). Quite frankley, that sucks. Without this merger, you only have one choice if you are not in one of the few local markets served by DTV or DN, your local cable company.With this merger, there will be enough bandwidth to serve many more local markets.Cable and DBS are after the same customer base.

    • It's all a sham. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:43AM (#4576743) Journal
      I'm sure it seems like this is a great thing, having prevented a satellite TV monopoly, but look again: unlike cable, which is limited only by the expense of laying and lighting cable, satellite has severe constraints on expansion of their service. It's really expensive (and risky) to launch a satellite, there are limited orbits for them to use, and limited frequencies for them to use. A merger would have meant that the two companies could have pooled their resources and offered local channels throughout the country. Instead there's a huge duplication of effort, neither of which is adequate. So instead of less populous areas being subject to a monopoly (whose prices could have been controlled by other means, namely a single nationwide pricing scheme), they're subject to NO decent service. Cable, meanwhile, enjoys an effective monopoly in all those areas, at whatever price it feels like, assuming it feels like serving them at all.

      (BTW: another brain-dead, protectionist aspect of the legalities surrounding satellite TV - unless you're in a particular local broadcast market, you're not allowed to receive channels in it - even if the equivalent channel doesn't exist in your area, or no local service is available for your area! I.E. I can't get UPN nor WB via satellite, despite the fact that they are actually broadcasting it off the same bird I would receive from. )
      • satellite has severe constraints on expansion of their service. It's really expensive (and risky) to launch a satellite, there are limited orbits for them to use, and limited frequencies for them to use. A merger would have meant that the two companies could have pooled their resources and offered local channels throughout the country. Instead there's a huge duplication of effort, neither of which is adequate. So instead of less populous areas being subject to a monopoly (whose prices could have been controlled by other means, namely a single nationwide pricing scheme), they're subject to NO decent service.

        This brings up a good point that I've wondered about. Obviously, there is a lot of redundancy between the two companies. They broadcast many of the same locals, hbos, shotimes, ect. If the two companies were planning on merging, you have to believe they had some plan to condense all the hardware so they'd all work with the existing satillites eventually. There have been a number of theories on how they might do this, I'm not sure if any of them are true, but I believe it is a reasonable assumption that the hardware would be consolidated somehow so everyone used the same satillites.

        So, if I'm Dish and DTV and I can't merge (which I believe is a good thing), why not sell off the satellites to an independent company that can keep up their maintance and charge the two companies fees for using the signals? Another idea might be to somehow create an organization funded by both companies that runs the satellites, oversees the creation of new birds, and keeps the ones up there already in good working order. In this way all the satallites can be used together to avoid redundancy and provide more local coverage. Also, both companies could remain independent competitors and sell their own packages and hardware to work the with independent satillite providers. In this way, some sort of competion is maintained between the two and the unnecessary redundancy can be avoided.

        Just a thought. I'm sure there are some flaws in it, but it is worth consideration.

        puck
    • Re:What? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Student_Tech ( 66719 )
      There are alternatives for digital satallite tv that aren't DirectTV/Dish. Example is the 4DTV, uses the C-Band equipment and a big dish. Its digital, its tv, its over satellite.
      Quote from article:

      James said the deal would create a monopoly in tens of millions of rural homes where cable television doesn't reach, and reduce choices in other areas. Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico joined in the lawsuit.


      They need to realize that the small 18" dish no-moving, mono-satallite (yes I do realize some are larger and do receive from 2 or 3 at once) dishes would be all under one company, but an option does exust for the people who have the big dishes, which likely would include "rural" customers that don't get cable.

      <RANT>
      I also know that cable in some areas is to the point where they are ripping you off. My family swapped to DirecTV (choice because of what they offered channel wise that I got from their website, and the fact we could go to RadioShack and get all the stuff), because the local cable, after taxes, was going up to $40/month for the expanded service (no HBO, showtime, cinemax, encore, ect in that. News, General Family Entertainment, local channels, things like that). The satallite ended up being $32/month. We got one of the amplified antennas on the dish and we got the local channels. We don't get Northwest Cable News which we wish we did, but that wasn't even in the cable basic package at $25 a month. In fact the basic package included 24 channels, 2 were shopping, the ABC/NBC/CBS/PBS affilites (WB was in the expaned, as was UPN), community channels, CSPAN[1-3].
      </RANT>

      Ok, now that my rant about my local cable system is gouging me is over, let me just say that there are options besides DirecTV and Dish for getting digital satallite TV, but if one focuses on urban areas they may be the only choices.
    • Re:What? (Score:2, Redundant)

      by AntiNorm ( 155641 )
      Someone care to tell me where the hell these people were when Cable companies took root in my town???

      Three words: AOL Time Warner.
      Two more words: Clear Channel.
    • Re:What? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SacredNaCl ( 545593 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @05:54AM (#4577188) Journal
      Almost universally I've been against big company mergers that decrease competition. This wasn't one of them.

      I'm extremely disappointed with the FCC's decision in this matter, one that I feel was probably influenced by back door dealing at the behest of the current cable conglomerates.

      This was a deal that made sense for consumers, and made good business sense for the companies involved. It's also unfortunate that consumers are being denied Canadian competition in this market as well. (Maybe...but I doubt it, a NAFTA challenge will correct that last item.)

      I had a friend that a few years ago bought a house on the edge of what in 10 years will be suburbia, but it isn't yet. They are still getting things like water treatment, gas service, and the like wired up. Every year for 10 years the cable company here has promised to connect this community. Every year for 5 years the phone company has said "we're going to roll out DSL in your area soon". Every year the federal government gives them a ton of money in subsidies to 'wire up rural areas'. Nothing happens.

      Echostar has done more for rural communities in terms of offering service than cable ever has. At least they provide a choice. This deal would of allowed them to combine resources, have the bandwidth to offer additional services (and local channels) to just about every area of the US. It would of lowered the cost bar for the service as well. This is a slap in the face to every American living in rural communities and in communities that cable will never be available in.

      • by M-G ( 44998 )
        Every year the federal government gives them a ton of money in subsidies to 'wire up rural areas'. Nothing happens.

        That's a good chunk of where all those surcharges on your phone bill are going....
    • I love my dish network PVR, but I hate that I can't get local channels because my local affiliates are jerks who won't allow it. If I move to DirecTV, I can get those channels, but I lose my PVR in favor of one that costs extra to get channel listings (and I'd lose some of the channels that I actually like). Boy, it'd sure suck if those companies got together and offered all of the service that I want at a price that still has to remain competitive with cable. Oh, wait, I guess they don't compete with cable.

      A satelite monopoly is not a TV monopoly. Why don't the boneheads in gov't realize that? Make them share their bandwidth like the phone companies if that's what they feel compelled to do, but damn, they don't need to be duplicating effort.
    • What does it mean ?

      It means that Rupert Murdoch and News Corp won in its battle to keep the US satellite market open for them to try and dominate as they do in Europe.

      Look for News Corp to snap up one of these payers within a year or so at firesale prices.
    • BINGO, the only thing these Bozo's do is ensure that they people that pay them the most win in the end. The biggest joke is the part in which they try and fool us into thinking this is for our own good and not pure profit.
  • Business perspective (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daikiki ( 227620 ) <daikiki.wanadoo@nl> on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:49AM (#4576628) Homepage Journal
    I work at a large electronics retailer, and I've noticed many times that customers have difficulty distinguishing between the competing products, Dish and DirectTV. Prices and products are similar. On the other hand, I also see the two constantly respond to the other's promotions and price changes. Pricing of both products have reached the point where setup, installation, and the required hardware is essentially free. I'm sure that wouldn;t have been the case for long had the merger been apprived. It's also nice to see the likes of AT&T be forced to respond to the competetive pricing of the sat. providers. They're still expensive by comparison, but imagine how much worse it would be without these competitors.
    • Oh, yay. One free 50 foot length of coax, some random screws, and someone to put both into your house. I sure couldn't handle doing that myself. But since Joe Everyman apperently can't handle moving the dish around until the TV beeps fast, *I* have to partially subsidize the "free" install and "free" install labor. That's right - you're paying for the install, it's not "free". The programming cost and equipment cost rolls up whatever amount of money the company pays out to the installers.
      • That's right - you're paying for the install, it's not "free". The programming cost and equipment cost rolls up whatever amount of money the company pays out to the installers.

        Well, yeah. I don't know about Dish, but the fine print for the DTV installation deal says as much - you don't pay up front for the installation, but you agree to a one year commitment to the Total Choice package, and if you cancel service or are disconnected for non-payment before the end of the year, you have to pay a prorated installation fee ($200, IIRC).

        It's just another version of a loss-leader - they've been selling the decoder boxes the same way for years now. It's really no different than a game company selling the system at a loss and making it up on game sales.

        And it's not a bad deal for most people - aiming the dish can be a real hassle sometimes, and in exchange for a service I was going to buy anyway, I get to avoid hanging my ass out in the breeze for an hour while listening to the TV beep, in favor of a guy coming out who has a signal meter and can aim the dish in 2 minutes flat.

        Besides, nothing is forcing you to take advantage of the installation deal - if you're so inclined, you can always DIY...

    • I certainly have no problem distinguishing between the services....Dish (which I have) is $24/month (including taxes), whereas DirecTV starts at $31/month plus tax :) That is a big deal if you watch as little TV as we do and have a tight budget. The only thing that sucks is that we can't get Fox, as we are not in a rebroadcast area, and our local Fox station denied our waiver request (which would have allowed us to get Fox from Dish...note that this did NOT make me want to get an antenna and patronize them :).

      Also, on the cost of installation posts, we got our equipment this summer on a "free equipment" deal. We walked into a local retailer, asked for a kit, they asked if we wanted self-install or free pro install (I installed it myself), they handed us the box and the install kit, and we went home. They never even asked our names. I seriously considered going back a few times to get more sets & selling them on eBay, but decided not to. Subscribing to service was a 3-minute phone call away, and required no credit card or minumum subscription length. A friend who went with the pro install had essentially the same experience. On a side note, compare these prices ($24+free) to local cable, which is $53/month plus taxes for expanded basic (analog, digital is another $2/month) plus a $70 "installation fee" (for our prewired townhouse), plus another $30 if you get digital, plus $10/month extra for each digital box, which you must get from the cable company. No thanks.
  • Now if only two way communications services had such protection offered by humans in power...

    *longs for a time when all internet boxes were peers rather than AUP and TOS slave clients which connect to the wealthy "servers"*
  • Seriously (Score:4, Insightful)

    by El Pollo Loco ( 562236 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:50AM (#4576634)
    I agree. Where I live, it's AT&T for cable, and that's all. Up until recently, it was USWEST/QWEST for phone service. I guess the satellite companys just didn't bribe enough politicans.
    • I guess the satellite companys just didn't bribe enough politicans.

      That was my thought exactly. The FCC is "voting" to disallow competitors access to cable lines, but they won't allow the merger of two satellite networks who could combine their resources to offer even better alternatives to the greedy cable companies.

  • Surely a merger is good for consumers?

    Say EchoStar carries 'Friends' and Hughes carries 'Who wants to be a millionaire'.

    If they merge then I get both my favourite shows from 1 company; this is much easier for the TV viewer, they get more choice and it is probably cheaper too.
    • I get both shows on cable and watch niether.

      When will I be able to get the /. channel?

    • Re:Erf? Why bad? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Surely a merger is good for consumers?

      Exactly the opposite, actually.

      A merger does not mean that every channel on each existing service automatically gets pulled on to the new service

      Let's take SlashDotters' favorite content niche, Porn, as an example. (L33T HAxx0Rs and other fourteen-year-olds, please note the correct spelling).

      Let's say the New Merged Company (NewCo) decides they want to charge a higher premium for Porn. Not pay the content provider (e.g., Playboy) any more, just charge a higher premium. Some subscribers pay it happily, others grudgingly, others drop the channel(s). There is little either the content owner (Playboy) or the consumer can do. With only one distributor -- one trucking company driving the food from the farm into the local grocery store -- the distributor makes the rules and sets the margins.

      Let's say you are a struggling Porn network and you want to get distribution. If NewCo decides it has enough Porn channels at the moment (with Playboy's 4 or 5 or whatever it is), you're done. At the moment, with two sources of satellite distribution, the newer smaller nets are more likely to get a niche, as each distributor uses it as leverage against their compeitor ("Get a Subscribution to Dish, we have the CowboyNeal Porn Channel, the other guys don't!")

      If the Porn Channel is entenched with NewCo, and its CEO plays golf with NewCo's EVP Programming every Sunday, it's pretty much on a path to squeezing out more copycat Porn channels to the consumers while figuring out exactly how frequently it can raise rates. Why not? No competition will be introduced. In fact, the distributor can quite handily use its position as the single distributor to dictate exactly what type of new channels should be introduced, and, more disturbingly, how the content on existing channels should be modified.

      Worst of all, yet not unimaginable (especially given our niche example) NewCo might (albeit foolishly) even decide they did not want to carry Porn.

      As an aside, I am fascinated to see so much support for this merger here on SlashDot. It is getting tougher and tougher to figure this place out. Not that that is a bad thing, of course. Makes for some interesting discussions.
      • I've noticed that it seems like Echostar customers are pro-merger, and DirecTV customers are anti-merger. It's probably because a post-merger service will look more like DishNetwork than DirecTV, and all the people who specifficly chose DirecTV over DishNetwork will get screwed. Based on that, I'd venture to guess that most slasdot readers who are also dish owners subscribe to DishNetwork.

        Personally, I have DirecTV, and I'm against the merger. DirectTV tends to support any third party equipment you want to use (read: PVRs) where DishNetowrk wants total control. Total control is bad. I want to be able to do what I damn well please with the video signal coming into my house.
  • by tcd004 ( 134130 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:51AM (#4576639) Homepage
    How dare the government regulate where I get my media! What are they socialists???

    They don't care about my rights as a consumer to have ALL my services charged on one convenient bill, all my services installed and fixed by one courteous, prompt repairman!

    My life is so convenient when I can get all this stuff from one, homogenous provider! Maybe the government would like to provide all these services, oh, wait a minute, maybe it's not so socialist afterall. /Satire, or, at least something like it.

    See Richard Gere's Ass Zoo [lostbrain.com]

    tcd004
  • by PhysicsScholar ( 617526 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:52AM (#4576641) Homepage Journal
    I skimmed through the article, but I'm quite curious about some aspects of it.

    It is fair to say that the concerns that led to the passage of US merger laws, and the goals that the laws aim to achieve, are not unique to the United States.

    All countries that have adopted merger statutes will recognize them: putting limits on large concentrations of economic power, protecting small businesses, preserving competition, protecting jobs, encouraging economic efficiency, and protecting consumers against anticompetitive price increases. The explosion of new merger laws in recent years suggests that the issues may be close to universal.
  • What I expected was some sort of bull that there is competition from cable companies. When regulators allowed cable co's to raise their rates everywhere they argued that they have satellite competition. They have SOME competition from satellite and vicea versa. There are many building codes that prevent people from getting even small satellite dishes not to mention obstructed views
    • by davmoo ( 63521 )
      The only cure for obstructions is to cut down trees or remove buildings.

      However, several years ago the FCC ruled that building codes and deed covenants could not be used to block a homeowner from installing a small satellite dish or antenna to receive broadcast TV.
  • by molrak ( 541582 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:54AM (#4576648) Homepage
    Adverse effects like small markets being able to get their local 3-5 stations over satellite? Adverse effects like a somewhat faster satellite internet connection? Adverse effects like nation-wide pricing? Silly me, I must need to check the definition of adverse.
  • When the government grants a certain business a regional territory, franchise, subsidy, or, protection, competition is legally prevented by threat of force.

    Violators of the government's will are arrested at gun point, if need be, or punished with fines. Government cooperation with special interests in business and interference with the free market is the real source of all coercive monopolies.

    When the government allows companies to merge into huge monopolies, they are only laying the foundations for socialism -- and that's the last thing we ever want in America.

    Without free markets and cutthroat competition, our economy will become stagnant and weak and eventually fall apart due to corruption and incompetence, like in the former Soviet Union and soon to be in socialist western Europe.
    • When the government grants a certain business a regional territory, franchise, subsidy, or, protection, competition is legally prevented by threat of force.

      Violators of the government's will are arrested at gun point [...] When the government allows companies to merge into huge monopolies, they are only laying the foundations for socialism -- and that's the last thing we ever want in America.


      What you are describing is termed Fascism, not socialism. You might profit by learning a bit more about political science.

      Without free markets and cutthroat competition, our economy will become stagnant and weak and eventually fall apart due to corruption and incompetence, like in the former Soviet Union and soon to be in socialist western Europe.

      I think a little less Usenet and a little more Friedman [daviddfriedman.com] and Hayek [hayekcenter.org] would allow you to make the case you want to make a bit more clearly.

      -j
    • Re:That's good (Score:4, Informative)

      by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @06:26AM (#4577234)
      When the government allows companies to merge into huge monopolies, they are only laying the foundations for socialism -- and that's the last thing we ever want in America.

      The terms "fascism" and "socialism" get thrown around here all the time. Please review their definitions.

      From Marriam-Websters:

      Main Entry: socialism
      Pronunciation: 'sO-sh&-"li-z&m
      Function: noun
      Date: 1837
      1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
      2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
      3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

      Main Entry: fascism
      Pronunciation: 'fa-"shi-z&m also 'fa-"si-
      Function: noun
      Etymology: Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces
      Date: 1921
      1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
      2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

      In both cases, society or nation is emphasized over the individual.
      • For a nation to work properly the indivdual must put the nation before him or her self. *However* other systems have made the mistake of not realizing that this placing of the nation before individual needs must *absolutely* be *voluntary*.

        When you force the nation before the individual, only then does the system fail...ANY system which forces participation is doomed to failure eventually... be it a nation or a company.
      • Wow.
        Lines copied from a dictionary: 25
        Lines copied from the parent post: 2
        Lines of original work: 3

        Not spelling Merriam -Webster correctly, even after conclusively showing that the correct spelling was readily accessible: Priceless.
    • Um, when the government stops something from happening, that is BY DEFINITION interference in the market. How can you praise free markets and market interference in the same posting??? What are you, nuts?

      In a free competitive market, sometimes you have winners. Sometimes you only have one winner. This is not a problem with a free market, it is a direct result of a successful competition.

      In the Olympics, you have a winner even though the competition is incredibly fierce. Why not in free markets?
      -russ
  • by coltrane679 ( 118528 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:56AM (#4576653)
    Opposing this merger on antitrust grounds is a no-brainer. It would mean the entire US would have but one satellite provider, which would be a total monopoly in those areas not served by cable. (Actually, there are ways for US residents to get Canadian satellite service from ExpressVu, like http://www.global-cm.net/).

    However, this sudden affection from the Bush administration for strictly enforcing antitrust law is obvious horseshit. Dish won a bidding war for Direct by outbidding Rupert Murdoch's Fox conglomerate. Murdock, a renowned political conservative (he of Fox News, and the NY Post, among other things) figured (correctly, as it turns out) that the politicans his lobbyists bought over the years--primarily Republicans--could be counted upon to do his bidding. And so they have.
    • [The merger proceeding] would mean the entire US would have but one satellite provider, which would be a total monopoly in those areas not served by cable.

      This is true, but you have to consider an even greater evil: not having the size to compete w/ cable in those markets where both satellite and cable are available. Those markets are much bigger. This is why Murdoch mobilized.

      When I grow up, I want to be the legislator of scientific laws.

    • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @03:09AM (#4576909) Journal
      Phew... Thank's for clearing that up.

      When I initally read it, I was under the mistaken impression that they did the right thing for the right reasons. That goes against everything I've seen the government ever do, so I was so confused my mind coped by convincing me I'd traveled several decades back in time, when the government still cared about the people.

      Thank you for clearing up any mistaken impressions that the government cares about the people, and reinforcing the (obviously correct) view that our government is up for sale to the highest bidder.
    • by Ded Bob ( 67043 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @06:28AM (#4577237) Homepage
      However, this sudden affection from the Bush administration for strictly enforcing antitrust law is obvious horseshit.

      Or maybe it is because the Clinton administration is not being bought by Turner to allow cable companies (namely Turner's) to grow into monopolies?

      See. I can also pull reasons out of thin air.

      Before I get marked down as flamebait, Ded Bob's political affiliation is none.


      • EVERY cable company everywhere is already a monopoly.

        This action clearly protects that monopoly interest.

        The FCC created the situation to begin with by preventing competion on the ground, by blocking sat companies from carrying signals that terrestrial stations wanted to sell them, and by ensuring that in any given area there is only one cable company to choose from.

        More often than not, it is the government that created whatever monopoly is in question.

    • Not True. Fox actually bid more than Echo Star. Hughes accepted a lower bid from Dish, even though they knew up front that this would be be harder to get approved. $gosub rumor $rumor: The folks at DTV (executives) believe that if Murdoch were to take over, they would all be fired. If the EchoStar merger goes down the tubes, they might try a management buy out. $return The last thing the DTV folks want is Murdoch. The last thing the Gov't wants is EchoStarDTV, because all the rural customers have lobbied their congress people against it. My guess, the merger gets flushed, then DTV will flounder around going "Uh, OK now what do we do?" With Murdoch in the wings with another offer that I'm sure won't be nearly as good as the original, now that his main competition has been removed. The beauty of this from Echo Star's perspective: They have basically stopped the competition from doing anything posititve for the last year because of the merger. DTV hasn't done much to come up with new products or services, they've been waiting to "merge". Ain't gonna happen.
    • Oh, boy, here we go...the dangerous conservative businessman must have bribed Republicans somewhere to get this deal killed.

      First of all, the concept of two services in a competitive economy works. Where I live, the majority of people have to suffer with the horrible service and support from the monopoly cableco, AT&T, if they want local service and don't want to mount an antenna.

      In September, DirecTV announced local service here coming this month. I've had DirecTV for over four years, and I'll have to install a new dish to get locals, but I can now pull the YAGI antenna off my roof. (It's nothing but a lightning rod here in Florida, anyway). The surge in sales of new DirecTV installs since the announcement has been remarkable.

      (I can tell when interest is piqued when a lot of people I know start asking my opinions about my service).

      A few weeks ago, Dish Network announced local availabilty on their systems beginning next week. Now, there's even more of a choice. Since DirecTV provides more subscription sports services, you can choose that one if that's a big deal for you. If not, the cable/movie channel packages from Dish are nearly identical in their offerings. And now locals can be had on both.

      Now that three providers offer services in the area, the pressure on AT&T to improve service and quality (and price) increases, and eventually, everyone benefits.

      But, what do Murdoch's politics have to do with him buying DirecTV? (His bid was rejected initially becuase Hughes apparently wanted to merge rather than sell the service and keep two systems in place). His holdings include satellite systems in Europe, and him owning DTV might mean a future of sharing those resources and allowing more foreign and global services to each side of the pond. I see that as a potential benefit.

      With Charlie Ergen and Echostar pulling the strings, all I might be able to count on is being forced to change all my equipment, or potentially losing the sports subscriptions I enjoy so much. I want choice, and I have it.

      And, by the way Fox News is not a "conservative news network." They have conservative folks on opinion shows (i.e., Sean Hannity), but that have a stable of liberals as well (Alan Combs, same show) to provide both sides. Their hard news shows also provide a more balanced view, which is something that doesn't exist on network or network-owned cable outlets. Which is why people aren't used to it, causing such confusion.

      • read this [fair.org].

        I realise that FAIR has what a lot of people would call a 'liberal bias,' but their facts in this case are sound. Worth a look. :)

        Triv
      • I must disagree with the previous poster. FOX is a conservative network. As a conservative, I watch it a lot (I use it as video wallpaper while working).

        And there is nothing wrong with it being a conservative network. What people seem to miss when they critize FOX is that all networks have biases. Only FOX is willing to admit that it is different.

        I would also argue that Fox is a more fair network - you really do get to see all sides of an issue. The way the liberal networks do their slant is two ways:
        1 - they simply don't show stories that contradict their points of view. CNN and the TV major networks are masters of this.
        2 - they use loaded language. You almost never hear the adjective "liberal" or "leftist" on most networks, but the words conservative, ultra-conservative and rightist are applied to anything that isn't left-wing.

        The anchors on most networks are stuffed shirts who try to portray a gravitas and a lack of bias, as they blather along with their liberal and left wing agenda. Fox anchors, OTOH are pretty open with their views, and are a lot more relaxed and human.

        And not all of Fox anchors are conservative. Bill O'Reilly is in his own league... he can demagogue from any side of an issue (I always switch to another channel or classical music when O'Reilly comes on).

        As far as Murdoch goes, his main ideology is money. He founded Fox more out of a recognition that there was a large viewership that was tired of the uniform biased view coming out of *all* other TV outlsets, rather than out of some conservative do-goodism (or do-badism if you are a leftist). Friends of mine who have worked closely with him are pretty uniform in their view that his ideology is money.
    • Ah...so that's why the Bush admistration stopped a mega-merger for the fisrt time in recent memory! And here I thought it was because he woke up and decided to become a pro-consumer president!

      Oh well, I suppose he's got to figure that when he goes to war with Iraq, in addition to the heating oil industry, the media conglomerates will all benefit from new subscribers who want to watch the carnage...

      credo quia absurdum

    • It would mean the entire US would have but one satellite provider, which would be a total monopoly in those areas not served by cable

      That's not entirely true. There's a service/company called, I believe, The Rural Communications Collective (forgive my laziness in not searching). Basically, people out in the boondocks who can't get cable are given reduced priced receivers and DirecTV service, as mandated by law. The FCC (rightly so, in my opinion) believes that although it does sound a bit corny, the ability to watch television is more or less a right. In fact, long before DirecTV or Dish sold local channels as an add-on for anyone, if you lived outside of the range of any of the closest big three (NBC/ABC/CBS) transmitters, you got "local" channels from (I think) New York. While I can certainly see the DoJ's complaints, I also don't understand exactly why they're worried about a monopoly. These companies would still have cable to compete with, and they're required by federal law not to gouge people who can't get an alternative to their service. I guess the way I see it, it'd be sort of like HP and Dell merging, and the DoJ complaining about a monopoly on computers. I can still build a PC/buy it from a few other companies, and there's also Apple/Sun/SGI /IBM/ ad infinitem to provide me with computers.

      Just my $0.02.

    • The ironic thing, of course, is that there would be only one satellite provider because the FCC prevented any others from being launched!

      This is literally the government deciding how many people can compete in the market, and then exactly how they are allowed to compete. Contrary to popular usage, this is the definition of fascism (As opposed to socialism where no private companies are allowed.)

      If you wanted competition, you would oppose this flagrantly unethical ruling by the DOJ and FCC and lobby for the elimination of the FCC altogether.

      THEY limited it to only 2 companies in obit. THEY make it so that hte local cable monopoly is a monopoly. and THEY blocked the satellite companies from competing effectively against cable.

      They told terrestrial stations that they Weren't ALLOWED To sell their own signal to the satellite providers!

      This is total inanity.

      The reason you have crappy service from Cable is because the FCC has mandated that there be a monopoly.

      If you had a free market, you'd have 3-4 satellite providers and 4-6 local cable providers and the best service would win-- not the one that paid off the FCC.

      Its pathetic that americans oppose a free market, and then think they are getting one when the FCC and DOJ block a merger.

      Idiots, all.

  • by loggia ( 309962 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:57AM (#4576656)
    Everything the FCC has been doing under Michael Powell is pro-merger, pro-consolidation, anti-consumer.

    So, I say, what's the frequency, Michael? What's the hidden agenda here - because there obviously must be one.
    • One of them shall go bankrupt (maybe even as part of a hidden agreement). Then the end effect shall be the same (a single monopoly remains) but everyone thinks the FCC did their best to prevent it.
  • by ZeroLogic ( 11697 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:57AM (#4576658)
    Could this be an example of the government doing something right? And maybe, just maybe protecting the rights of its citizens?
    • Could this be an example of the government doing something right? And maybe, just maybe protecting the rights of its citizens?

      No such luck. This is an example of the administration trying to protect their cronies in the cable industry.

      Individually, Dish Networks and DirectTV are no threat to the local cable companies. People who live in apartment complexes are rarely able to install satellite dishes. If your patio doesn't point the right way or you don't have a clear 45 degree line of site over any trees, you're screwed. A few complexes will let you install a dish on the roof if you're on the top floor. But they don't have to so they usually will not permit it. Many windows are opaque to satellite signals, so simply finding a window pointing in the right direction is not necessarily enough. I have to open a bedroom window to use my dish.

      And even if you can get a dish installed, you probably won't get all your local networks. Although there will always be one station broadcast for every network from your satellite, you can't get access to any station that's not in your "broadcast area". Dish and DirecTV would probably like to sell you a package that gives you access to a replacement station in a different region, but they're not allowed to. The law prohibits it. Years ago, the cable companies lobbied the government to put that law in place to protect themselves from satellite competitors. How many people will subscribe to satellite TV when they'd be missing one or two of ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, UPN, and WB?

  • Good Move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Evil Adrian ( 253301 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:00AM (#4576665) Homepage
    A good move, especially considering that the barrier for entry to that industry is so insanely high that only Microsoft would dare attempt it.

    With that said, how much do you want to bet that Microsoft tries to buy one of them?
    • Microsoft were originally in league with Rupert Murdoch on his attempt to get the News Corp. to buy DirecTV. This was all part of Microsoft's 'Ultimate TV' product strategy.
  • by CySurflex ( 564206 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:08AM (#4576690)
    Satellite hackers around the US and Canada are outraged at this move by the FCC. Rob Mishka, a long time connoisseur of free (read: stolen) satellite TV, was quoted as saying "We are just sick of having to deal with two different encryption keys every damn week. If they merged we would only have to deal with one!". Rob then spit out the tobacco he was chewing and went to work on the Trans-Am that has been raised on 8 bricks in his front yard since 1998.
  • duh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:10AM (#4576695) Homepage
    Someone obviously forgot the hookers and blow.

    They come BEFORE the merger, not after.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:43AM (#4576741)
    So many people fail to get it still. Only government can truly create a monopoly. No, Microsoft does NOT have a monopoly. As long as there exists one x86 box running something else productively, it does not have one.

    Supposed the two dish companies had merged? How popular would it have been for them to have immediately jacked the prices up? But, you say, they could have done it anyway, because people would have had no choice? Well, there IS still air channels. Or, radical idea here! Quit watching TV! Ahh...now I see the problem. The State made sure to preserve the people's Bread and Circuses. If people stopped watching TV, they might start reading or something hazardous.

    But slightly more seriously, to take it to an illustrative extreme, the satellite networks join, and jack prices way up. How long can they keep that up? A demonstrated low level of profitable service has apparently been illustrated at the current level. If they exceed this, the pressure just keeps increasing for someone to come in from underneath and displace them as cheap as they currently are operating. It might take 2 or three years, but it will happen. Oh wait. No it won't. Too much government red tape to get through. :-P

    Meanwhile, the two existing companies can collude a little bit, and stay just good enough, and lobby just enough to keep screwing you more than unfettered competition would.

    What the hell, if they did abuse their market, maybe it would be a good thing. The next dish network to displace them might use 6" dishes, or roll out broadband cable/internet or something. The existing companies are not as likely to do that; they are happy where they are, making money.

  • Deal was DOA (Score:2, Informative)

    by LinuxOnHal ( 315199 )
    This deal was pretty much dead on arrival due to the current political regeme. This really isn't that big of news, considering the FCC already has blocked it. That nailed 9/10 nails in the coffin.

    That being said, it would be good for competition, because it would allow better competition with cable companies...the FCC/DOJ look at it totally wrong. SatTV as a whole competes with cable. It should be labeled the same thing.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @02:11AM (#4576801) Homepage
    Amusingly, when Justice Department opposition to the merger was announced, both stocks went up. That indicates what investors think of the deal.

    Most mergers don't do much for the shareholders. In fact, most M&A activity is counterproductive. You'd think otherwise, but, in fact, making the company formed by a merger work properly is hard.

  • by doormat ( 63648 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @02:36AM (#4576843) Homepage Journal
    The biggest point is that in most areas (in temrs of geography) of the country, this reduces multi-channel tv systems from two to one company, and it cities with cable, from 3 to 2.

    When the merger first came out it didnt seem so bad, because both satellite companies had stagnated for a while in terms of adding content and local markets (aka local-in-local, or LiL). But in the past year, three spot-beam satellites have become operational, and one more is scheduled to come online. Both Dish network and DirecTV have (or will have soon) the capability to serve the top 100 or so television markets (there are around 220 DMA, or designated viewing areas). Dish Network actually has the capability to serve all 220 DMAs using other oribtal locations for satellites that can see half the country (at 61.5 degrees Wests and 148 degrees West, where as the current satellites that can see all of the CONtinental US are located at 101, 110, and 119 degrees west, aka the three CONUS slots).

    The only thing that the merger would have helped is HDTV offerings. Right now, each provider has 4-5 HD channels. As more come online, there will be a bandwidth crunch (since each HD channel will take up the space of 4-6 regular channels). Maybe at the maximum, there will be room for about 20 HD channels for each provider, but there is not enough bandwidth to provide more than that.

    Also, Charlie Ergan (the CEO of Echostar, the owner of Dish Network), has done a number of things to piss off the FCC (like challenging the law that says if a provider carries any number of local channels from a city, it must carry all of the channels for that city, regardless of how popular the station is). After he lost the appeal for this law, he tried to do an end-run around the law, and put the most popular networks (the big four plus WB and UPN and in some cases PBS) on the main satellites, and require users to put up a second dish for the smaller stations. The FCC got pissed and told Echostar to do a number of remedies to fix the situation. They have come into compliance of the recomendations, but its still very iffy.

    All and all, its a good thing this merger was rejected. The downside is that now Rupert Murdoch will now be the likely owner for DirecTV. Which is better, the devil you know, or the devil you dont?
  • Missing information (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ctr2sprt ( 574731 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @02:57AM (#4576876)
    I didn't see it in the two articles, but... the merger was proposed, and voted down, once already. This new one has a provision which gives some cable company (Cablevision?) rights to use parts of the combined company's satellites. Cablevision, or whatever company it is, is not currently in the satellite TV game. Apparently the owner of the company is planning to sell some assets (like the channel AMC) to fund investment. The idea here is that Hughes et al. were offering a potential competitor even after the merger is done. This is described in detail in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. Apparently the FCC's concerns with the new proposal are that Cablevision might not have the financial backing to last in the satellite TV business. The WSJ cynically observes that they are trying to learn the lesson they got from the telco deregulation nightmare, where the Baby Bells just outspent their smaller challengers and snapped up the remains when they went bankrupt. But the FCC is also running the danger of preventing mergers of financially-insecure companies, with the possible result that they'll all go bust.

    There are some other interesting tidbits in the piece, like that the potential satellite competitor is interested in offering some 40 HDTV channels. The WSJ is unabashedly free-market, so they support the revised merger, apparently with the opinion that neither company can combat cable companies independently.

  • by Araxen ( 561411 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @03:06AM (#4576898)
    Honestly the only way Sattelite TV was to be a threat to Cable television and end their monopoly reign over people is to merge Echostar and Dtv. With Echostar and Dtv merged into 1 company, they could offer all the locals to all markets, but with the merger being block local channels can only be offered to some markets instead of all of them.
    Cable Co's feared a merged Echostar/Dtv, as they wouldn't have a monopoly anymore and Sattelite TV was a real threat with all local market channels being offered but they have nothing to fear now.
    • You know, I'm continuously amazed by the number of brain dead comments like this that I see.

      With Echostar and Hughes merged they wouldn't have competed against the cable companies. They would've formed a 2 party oligopoly. Satellite pricing has been pretty constant in the past 5 years, while cable prices have risen dramatically in most markets. Eliminate one third of the competition, however, and you want to bet that satellite pricing won't go through the roof like cable has? And it has even less regulation than cable has! Come on people, THINK.

      All the kvetching about locals is crap. The big markets/cities have locals available over satellite. Rural locations don't, but I seriously question that the merged company would've spent the tremendous amount of bandwidth needed to rectify that situation for the very minor gains it would've resulted in. Anyway, the regulations are that if you can receive a good over-the-air signal then you cannot get the national broadcasts - this happened to my sister. They still love their DirecTV though. The only real downside is that they can't DirecTiVo the local channels since they come in via antenna. They survive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2002 @03:19AM (#4576924)
    Remember when having cable tv meant you had pretty much commericial free tv? The big 3 had to
    have commericials to pay for the shows. Cable TV is something you HAVE to pay for. Now there are
    as many or more commericials on CABLE TV. So I not only pay the %$#^@'s for the cable, but also
    have to endure #$(#^(# commericals.

    I would let them have their monopoly if they would promise to get rid of the commericials.
    • The cable movie networks (showtime, movie channel, hbo, cinemax, etc) don't have commericals (except for themselves and sometimes each other). The other networks (usa, nick, history, etc) do, but then again you don't pay very much for them. For one nonimal fee you get 20 or more cable channels, and your cable company pays very little to provide them (just for the equipment mostly). So the only way USA et all pay their bills is to sell time, just like the 'big three'. OTOH YOU are paying for the movie networks directly. Just because it's cable don't mean it's paid for.
  • What I don't get (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grubby ( 121481 )
    Why is GM so interested in selling off hughes? It seems like a profitable business venture that is only getting better. Anyone who has ever had DTV certainly prefers it over the local cable monopoly. I was concerned with what the echostar merger would do to the Directv with TiVo receiver or now called "Directv DVR"
  • by Slashdolt ( 166321 ) on Friday November 01, 2002 @09:08AM (#4577724)
    In land mass, it's probably more than half, but in population, it's only about 15%.

    If you read the FCC's decision (available from www.fcc.gov), they repeatedly mention that without the merger the two companies can still provide local into local service for 100 of the roughly 200 DMA's in the country. Had the merger been accepted, it would have been all 200.

    I really don't see how satellite can possibly COMPETE EFFECTIVELY against cable, when they're only provide local-into-local service for the larger metropolitan areas, which may even have multiple cable companies also competing!

    The DOJ could easily make sure that the New Echostar keeps its promise of uniform pricing, and make no mistake, They're not making a whole lot of money from us people in Farm Country (as I am), so it wouldn't make sense for them to create "uniformly high pricing", unless they wanted to just roll over and die.

    The FCC generally makes decisions that are friendly to broadcasters. Look at their decisions against satellite over the last few years. They (and Congress) regard satellite companies as essentially wanting to steal television from Over The Air broadcasters.

    I quit watching the major networks (ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX) about 3 years ago, when I couldn't get a decent signal over-the-air. I get UPN and WB via satellite superstations, and I watch those quite a bit. Broacasters should have been fighting tooth and nail for this, but instead they generally opposed it, probably out of habit. I might actually start watching network TV again, if I could get it on sat.

    I'm very angry at Rural TV, and other "rural" groups that opposed this merger. As a rural person in a DMA that will likely never get locals via satellite, I am very angry at these people that are supposedly representing me. They don't speak on my behalf.
  • The entire problem here is that the company selling you service is the same as the company owning the satellites. This is no different from when long distance service was sold to you by the same people who sold you your (overpriced) monopoly landline phone service.

    What North America needs is separation of these two areas. (Standard) DVB could do this and still provide the same service level North American currently enjoys. A satellite would be blasted into orbit by an actual telecomms company, a satellite TV station would rent time from them to put their station on the air, and, if necessary, they would encrypt the channel and sell the service to North America in general if they felt Advertising revenue wouldn't cover their rental costs (note: In most cases it would -- A large percentage of what you see on DSS has already been broadcast in the clear on one or two satellites before it makes it to you, largely commercial free). You could buy individual channels that you want (assuming those aren't free), you wouldn't worry about DishNet having UPN and DirectTV not, and there's no middle-man. Not to mention you'd be able to use the huge amount of GREAT DVB gear out there, including computer capture cards. And the freedom of any company being able to broadcast TV as long as they can pony up the cash necessary to do it would be excellent.

    Right now we have two companies with a pile of hardly used birds up in the sky. There's complete overlap on four of them, making two useless. Another one broadcasts the (largely unreceived) HDTV content, and so on.

    When will this happen?

    Beats me. My bets are on 20 or 30 years into the future, or maybe when the current birds run out of fuel. I do know it has to happen sometime. It's inevtitable.

  • Speicfically, the right to free association.

    Furthermore, its idiotic-- how can a company competing with thousands of cable companies around the country be a "monopoly"?

    I think MS deserves to be punished for stealing apple's technology and defrauding linux and other users who never used windows but were forced to pay for it.

    but the FCC has no business being in existance in the first place, and if this is the result of a republican DOJ, then the republicans really are no different from the democrats.

    And somehow, I suspect the leftist slashdot crowd is happy to see that human rights have, once again, taken it up the a$%

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