Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Senate Hearing on Online Video, Online

C-span has made it possible to view the senate hearing held April 24, 2012 by the Senate Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee in regards to the emerging online video trend. The hearing is focused on understanding what the rapid growth of online video means for US consumers. Senator Rockefeller of West Virginia asks, "How will this disruptive technology, that online viewing will provide, lead to better content and more consumer choice?" Online video services such as Hulu and Netflix provide their customers with a selective viewing choice at a minimal price compared to cable programming. The average price for cable television in the US is somewhere around $90 to $100 per month and the customer is forced to choose a tiered system of channels, usually with a few very popular channels within each increasing price bracket. Online video companies charge around $10 to $20 per month and the viewing choices are left completely up to the customer in the sense that one does not have to choose channel packages with increasing prices and countless needless channels. Therefore I would posit that online video increases the content quality by limiting the useless features and channels that come with cable and all for a fraction of the price to the consumer. Now, the garbage content is still there if the consumer chooses to view it, but it is a more interactive process to retrieve those programs, unlike the linear scrolling of television channels which could lead children to unsavory programming, but the online version doesn't charge extra for 500 channels of totally unwatchable TV.
Barry Diller, chairman of IAC and an investor in Aereo had interesting and poignant remarks regarding online video, one which I will remark on. Mr Diller pointed out that congress needs to be vigilant and protective of the current Internet structure which allows anyone to be a producer and to provide their content directly to the viewer. Mr Diller stresses that no one should be allowed to stand between the individual media producers and their audiences. This is one of the main things that separates the inter net from traditional forms of publication in that an individual can produce a media and self publish it for free, not including access to a computer and to the Internet. The producer does not have to engage with the publishing industry in order to distribute to their audience. That is what Google is for!
These ideas and fore thoughts are excellent topics for the senate to be fielding as they have the power to regulate the Internet and our communication paths, all 500 channels of it.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad to see you raising awareness about these important hearings that have the potential to change the choice and pricing model pushed by well-financed cable companies in the Internet TV era. The question might be: how will this shape our understanding of the news? Hulu and Netflix are often seen as channels for content that isn't "live," so what role do they play in the news landscape? Is it harder to make a case for change if the content as perceived as entertainment rather than information? In other words, how can the legal protections and privileges of the press be used to effect change?