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Krugman: Say No To Comcast Acquisition of Time Warner

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the fight-the-power dept.

The Internet 187

nbauman writes "In his column, 'Barons of Broadband' New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says: 'Comcast perfectly fits the old notion of monopolists as robber barons, so-called by analogy with medieval warlords who perched in their castles overlooking the Rhine, extracting tolls from all who passed. The Time Warner deal would in effect let Comcast strengthen its fortifications, which has to be a bad idea. Comcast's chief executive says not to worry: "It will not reduce competition in any relevant market because our companies do not overlap or compete with each other. In fact, we do not operate in any of the same ZIP codes." This is, however, transparently disingenuous. The big concern about making Comcast even bigger isn't reduced competition for customers in local markets — for one thing, there's hardly any effective competition at that level anyway. It is that Comcast would have even more power than it already does to dictate terms to the providers of content for its digital pipes — and that its ability to drive tough deals upstream would make it even harder for potential downstream rivals to challenge its local monopolies.'"

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Ok (5, Interesting)

The Cat (19816) | about 10 months ago | (#46271043)

Of course they don't compete. Cable companies have government-sanctioned monopolies.

I'd say give them a choice. You can merge if you relinquish your monopoly.

Then we'll see what's most important to them.

Re:Ok (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 10 months ago | (#46271137)

Well, in a lot of places they have competition from fiber, and places where they *don't* are places where building out a competitive network is unprofitable. Relinquishing the monopoly on cable would be no big deal.

Krugman's point is that consolidating all those places where cable is the only game in town gives them a powerful middleman position. The monopoly has done its damage as far as the market is concerned; you can take the legal monopoly away and the de facto monopoly on access to the market will remain.

Re:Ok (4, Interesting)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 10 months ago | (#46271249)

De-regulation along the lines of the power companies? In other words, break apart "generation" and "distribution"......make TV/broadband one entity and then make the lines themselves a different entity. Have the distribution entity charge customers the same rate scale so that other companies can compete on equal footing.

Re:Ok (1)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#46271277)

Because that worked so well with Enron.

Re:Ok (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 10 months ago | (#46271413)

Because that worked so well with Enron.

You think Enron blew up because the separated the transport from the content?

Re:Ok (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271465)

I think Enron bought the laws they wanted in California under the guise of serving the computer, then proceeded to rape the people of California with their standard enthusiasm.

The governor of California should have ordered the state militia up and seized the criminal operations in those power plants causing harm to the people of the state.

Re:Ok (4, Informative)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#46271633)

Enron's market manipulations were enabled by separating production from transmission. If they had been required to sell for Generation Cost + X% (the old rule) there wouldn't have been the rolling blackouts and grotesque pricing.

You don't need content to function in modern socie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46272419)

> Enron's market manipulations were enabled by separating production from transmission. If they had been required to sell for Generation Cost + X% (the old rule) there wouldn't have been the rolling blackouts and grotesque pricing.

Any website can serve as a social hub, or whatever. It is not as if Facebook could get away with charging $10/month per user for access. Some would pay, but it'd be a ghost town within weeks.

Re:Ok (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46271489)

Enron had nothing to do with this situation, and its problems stemmed from inventive accounting, not anything to do with monopoly.

Re:Ok (1)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#46271649)

Didn't mean Enron's financial foolishness, just the market manipulation that they did to fuck over California.

Re:Ok (1)

robbiedo (553308) | about 10 months ago | (#46272365)

You are apparently not the "smartest man in the thread". Enron was up to their eyeballs in manipulating the California energy market, and I blame GWB for allowing it to happen.

Re:Ok (3, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 10 months ago | (#46271315)

De-regulation along the lines of the power companies? In other words, break apart "generation" and "distribution"......make TV/broadband one entity and then make the lines themselves a different entity. Have the distribution entity charge customers the same rate scale so that other companies can compete on equal footing.

The problem with this solution is that the cable system isn't designed that way. The electric grid is, in essence, wires. Generators put electrons onto the wire, customers pull them back off. You can't tell where an electron came from, but the utility company bills you for them at the rate of the company you choose (assuming that company has actually put enough electrons onto the wire to cover their customer's use.)

Cable TV isn't that way. You can't put two channel 5s on the same system. There is a limit to how much can be put on. A provider that gets to use channels 1-20, for example, prevents anyone else from using 1-20. How do you divvy up the limited space? Once you get 83 content providers, you've pretty much used up the full system. And multiple Internet providers would be even worse -- the space is smaller. (And before someone points out that under the wonderful new digital world anything can appear on your TV as "Channel 5", I'm talking about the frequencies and not the arbitrary digital channel id.)

Re:Ok (4, Informative)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 10 months ago | (#46271353)

In my area, I can actually opt to have Earthlink as my ISP instead of TWC. Earthlink offers a similar service level using the same lines that TWC laid. If I paid Earthlink for my connection, Earthlink would keep some portion and then pay TWC for use of the lines. That's more or less how deregulated power companies operate.

Re:Ok (1)

Chas (5144) | about 10 months ago | (#46271577)

At this point, transport on the cable networks is mostly digital. So you're no longer worried about analog channel competition.
So you can have multiple VLANs running on the same physical media.
As such, yes you CAN have multiple channel 5's on the same physical network.

VLAN-A: First provider: Channels+Data
VLAN-B: Second provider: Channels+Data
VLAN-C: Third provider: Channels+Data

Re:Ok (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 10 months ago | (#46271927)

At this point, transport on the cable networks is mostly digital. So you're no longer worried about analog channel competition.

As I already said, in a vain attempt at preventing this, I was talking about the frequency space that used to be called "channel 5", etc, NOT THE ARBITRARY CHANNEL DESIGNATION EMBEDDED IN THE DIGITAL STREAM. NO, you cannot have multiple channel 5s on the same network. I don't care what you call the data stream -- channel 5, channel 10, etc -- only the bandwidth that is used to transport it.

VLAN-A: First provider: Channels+Data VLAN-B: Second provider: Channels+Data

There are a limited number of channels. There is a limited amount of space for data. How many content providers do you want to allow? 50? That's about two, maybe three, channels per provider, and depending on bit rate of their digital signals, anywhere from two to twenty digital channels.

Now, how do they share the control channel (single data stream)? Or do the converters have to monitor every possible data stream looking for authorization codes? And kiss goodbye ANY hope of unencrypted signals.

Re:Ok (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#46272281)

> As I already said, in a vain attempt at preventing this, I was talking about the frequency space that used to be called "channel 5", etc, NOT THE ARBITRARY CHANNEL DESIGNATION EMBEDDED IN THE DIGITAL STREAM.

NOBODY cares about that. Packets can be treated just like electrons from a power company. It doesn't really matter who the source or the destination is or if is even a broadcast.

Even the notion of "channel 5" being dedicated to anything is an obsolete idea as anything that isn't a packet switched network is moving in that direction.

Re:Ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271929)

In the analog days that would be true, but bandwidth is fungible (if that's the right word for it) in the same way quantities of water and electric currents are. The way things are done now, you have a finite capacity for how many bits you're able to send, how fast you can direct them to where they need to go, and so on, but the concern over channels isn't what it used to be.

Not only that, now that practically everything is or at least can be digital, that same quantity of bandwidth that used to be used to send images and sound the old fashioned way can now be used to move much, much more content. The digital switch actually greatly expands what you can do with the same infrastructure, in addition to making it much more flexible.

So, you're correct in that telecommunications used to function that way, but increasingly that's no longer true, since for digital data transmission the rules are very different.

An above poster also points out, you can run numerous virtual networks on one physical one this way.

Re:Ok (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 10 months ago | (#46272051)

Cable TV isn't that way. You can't put two channel 5s on the same system.

Yes you can, as evidenced by video-on-demand and cable modems.

Your "cable box" just needs IP capabilities, so when you change the channel, it subscribes to the multicast stream of that channel. The multicast stream for each channel won't cross over any layer-2 switches/bridges, unless there's a device on the other side that has requested it. In practice, every neighborhood is divided up into separate traffic domains like this, so you only need enough bandwidth to support the worst-case of every TV in your neighborhood being tuned to a different channel... And when everyone in the neighborhood is watching the superbowl, that's just one channel on the wire, with the rest free for internet traffic.

Re:Ok (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 10 months ago | (#46272129)

Another person who didn't read to the end of what I wrote to see how I resolved the ambiguity in the term "channel". No, you cannot have two signals on the same frequency on the same cable. You can't just wave your hands and talk about "IP capabilities".

The multicast stream for each channel won't cross over any layer-2 switches/bridges,

That's not how the existing cable TV networks are designed. The digital "multicast" is carried via analog RF and uses quite a bit of bandwidth to do that. That box out on the pole is not a router, it is an amplifier. Everyone watching the "big game" is tuned to the same frequency and decoding the same digital stream on that frequency, and that changes nothing about all the other frequencies in use. They're still being used. Your converter box doesn't have to talk back to Momma to tell them to start sending some other program, it just tunes to that channel when you tell it to.

Re:Ok (1)

robbiedo (553308) | about 10 months ago | (#46272387)

No one cares about those channels. They care about the broadband connection since everything will switch to IPTV.

Re:Ok (2)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46271471)

Exactly.

Force them to divest themselves of TV content providers, Networks, Studios, etc.

It may still not be enough. They have phone packages too. Does that mean they get to *block* VOIP, SIP, and other internet phone services?
(And when I say block I also mean use speeds or pricing to force it off the internet side of Comcast).

   

Re:Ok (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#46272337)

The funny thing is that we have already heard the same arguments from them. In fact, the pro-monopoly mouthpieces are using the fact that we tolerated this crap last time to justify it again. They're like 4 year olds point and say "but but you allowed it this other time".

This is what we get for tolerating this bullshit.

This "but we will play nice" and "but you can add conditions" is the same argument they made for the last merger that should never have gone through.

If you need to create "special conditions", then by definition the merger is bad. The fact that you create a new set of rules that the relevant corporation can break in the future really doesn't change anything.

Re:Ok (4, Insightful)

morgauxo (974071) | about 10 months ago | (#46271321)

I suspect that only people who live in an area with fiber would say that a LOT of places have fiber.

Re:Ok (1)

robbiedo (553308) | about 10 months ago | (#46272411)

Fundamentally, municipal fiber is ultimately the answer. It's expensive, but fundamentally necessary, even if we have to use eminent domain to buy it, and eventually shut it down.

Re:Ok (1)

robbiedo (553308) | about 10 months ago | (#46272421)

Sorry, I meant to say "buy all the cable" and shut it down.

Re:Ok (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46271431)

Well, in a lot of places they have competition from fiber, and places where they *don't* are places where building out a competitive network is unprofitable. Relinquishing the monopoly on cable would be no big deal.

In vastly more places there is exactly ONE cable plant in the ground. There is no competition.
Further, most municipalities will not allow building out competitive networks, simply because the disruption is so great.
These plants went in when the neighborhood was built, and no late comers will be allowed.

Re:Ok (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 10 months ago | (#46271977)

In vastly more places there is exactly ONE cable plant in the ground. There is no competition.

Because the market isn't there.

Further, most municipalities will not allow building out competitive networks, simply because the disruption is so great.

If the second company meets the requirements for a franchise, the municipality cannot stop them. Take the existing franchise, substitute the second companies name for the first, and company two will have a really good legal case if the city refuses to grant them a franchise under the same conditions.

This "disruption" is a regular occurrence in many cities, pulling another cable through the underground conduits is trivial, and putting up a wire on a pole is not much worse.

Re:Ok (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46272211)

Pulling another cable through the underground conduit is not trivial when that underground conduit belongs to Comcast, or someone else. It only applies to City owned conduit, and even then, disruption of existing services is a big risk. Its not trivial. If you think it is, you've never done it.

Franchise or not, monopolies are different, and the city is not able to give blanket authority to trench in new cable across everyone's yard and driveway. Also Franchises to do things like cable and telephone are often by their very nature a franchise to a monopoly. Just because someone else shows up with paper work doesn't mean they get a piece of they pie.

Re:Ok (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 10 months ago | (#46272427)

> Because the market isn't there.

Yet cities decide to take matters into the own hands only to be subjected to corruption of their own state government at the hands of the Robber Baron in question.

Re:Ok (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 10 months ago | (#46271597)

You know what's sick? They support legislation to make it illegal for municipalities to help themselves with broadband in places where they choose not to do business at all.

Re:Ok (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 10 months ago | (#46271151)

Exactly.

Though, I wouldn't give them the choice. I'd just take the government sanction out of it.

Let them fight it out tooth and nail. I highly doubt one company will dominate the whole country with our diverse conditions if that is done. And furthermore, I'm pretty sure built up areas will have multiple providers.

One thing which we do need to look into is the rental costs that cities are charging to run cable on poles or under the street. There have been some indications that those prices are unreasonable.

Re:Ok (2)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#46271475)

So cities should have to give the mega-corps lower prices than the power companies do? Almost everywhere they charge the same as whatever local utilities charge, why should municipalities have to subsidize multinational corporations? Of course the charge is more than it actually costs the city to maintain that pole, so what? If they were out of town the price charged by PG&E or Puget Sound Energy or Detroit Edison is going to be more than it actually costs them to maintain the pole as well. I personally think that the whole idea that municipalities should be happy to give away everything that's not nailed down to the mega-corps is utterly absurd.

Re:Ok (0)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 10 months ago | (#46272019)

The price is passed on to the consumer.

What... did you think the corporation actually paid that?

Come now. Anything you charge the company gets passed on to the consumer.

YOU. So, bub... riddle me this... do you want to pay more or less for internet access.

Take your time.

I swear... I don't know if people are stupid or they just don't literally know how to form thoughts.

No offense... but I shouldn't have had to point the above out to you.

Re:Ok (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46271527)

I'm pretty sure built up areas will have multiple providers.

Guess again. The VAST Majority of the US has exactly 1.5 choices.
1) Cable/fiber owned by Comcast or competitors. .5) Horribly inadequate and often unavailable DSL lines.

Even where there are multiple cable plants in a city, the overlap of their ares is virtually non-existent.

The more built up the area, the less chance of any real choice except in the downtown business core.

Re:Ok (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 10 months ago | (#46272083)

Its interesting, people are reporting that many small towns have 2 or 3 providers of cable. If anything the economics would make more sense in cities for two or three providers. So there must be some non-logistical factor holding back these companies.

I assume there are leases or rental fees to lay cable that might be unpleasant. There might be something else going on. I don't know. But it seems like there is something in cities that is preventing this... and it can't be natural because if anything the towns would have less incentive for this sort of activity.

Re:Ok (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46272271)

Its interesting, people are reporting that many small towns have 2 or 3 providers of cable. If anything the economics would make more sense in cities for two or three providers. So there must be some non-logistical factor holding back these companies.

Much of the claim of two or three different cable providers is out of ignorance.

Most of the time, these are simply bulk purchase providers that ride on existing cable plants through some special bulk buy.
There really ends up being only one cable plant.

Just like there are Virtual Mobile Network Operators [wikipedia.org] that provide cell service cheaper than AT&T or Verizon, when in reality they are simply reselling AT&T or Verizon accounts which the purchase in bulk. They don't have any tower or any plant of their own.

Some cities may have been forward looking enough to require infrastructure access by competitors, but in most of the country this is simply not the case.

Re:Ok (4, Interesting)

admiralh (21771) | about 10 months ago | (#46271187)

Cable is a natural monopoly. Competition really doesn't work in this type of business.

What we really need is for cable high-speed internet service to be declared a "Common carrier", so they are required to not discriminate against NetFlix, etc.

Re:Ok (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46271565)

Cable is a natural monopoly. Competition really doesn't work in this type of business.

What we really need is for cable high-speed internet service to be declared a "Common carrier", so they are required to not discriminate against NetFlix, etc.

Or pry the last mile out of the fingers of cable companies and put it in the hands of Local government, like streets, water, sewer.
That way the local rate-payers and tax payers can allow multiple content and internet providers, and maintain their own fiber/cable plant.

Natural monopolies require special treatment.

Re:Ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271997)

Right. Must be the country you're living in.
I live in a small 100k sized town in Eastern Europe, 20mpbs for 3 USD cheapest subscription. There are 4 ISP's using cable, two local, two nation wide. Then, some offer wireless, and then there's a whole other set of companies offering competitive mobile internet, 3 of those. In total, 7 different ISP's ...

Re:Ok (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 10 months ago | (#46271215)

Of course they don't compete. Cable companies have government-sanctioned monopolies. I'd say give them a choice. You can merge if you relinquish your monopoly.

Ok, done.

Every franchise I've seen is non-exclusive. I.e., it isn't a government-sanctioned monopoly. It is a defacto one based on market forces, not a dejure one based on government action.

Re:Ok (1)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#46271545)

Twenty five or thirty years ago exclusive grants were commonly given to a single company, since that was the only way to ensure that companies would build out the physical plant. A lot of people still think that's the rule, especially the Libertardians for some reason.

Re:Ok (2)

stinerman (812158) | about 10 months ago | (#46271221)

Not everwhere is there a monopoly. For instance where I live in Columbus, I can choose from Time Warner or WOW. If you or I or anyone else wanted to, they could set up a company and run their own wires. Guess what? No one else wants to. Last mile connectivity is a natural monopoly and ought to be regulated as a utility.

As someone else in the comments said, let's require them to split the infrastructure from the services. Then we'll have real competition.

Re:Ok (1)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#46271553)

You can get service from World Of Warcraft? I'd take that.

Re:Ok (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 10 months ago | (#46271237)

I'm kind of confused by the statement that they don't operate in the same zipcode, I currently see an xfinitywifi hotspot, and a TWCWiFi. I assume that means they both operate here to some degree.

Re:Ok (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 10 months ago | (#46271309)

Local governments give the cable companies their monopolies. It's the Federal government that allows or disallows the mergers. For the federal government to implement your solution they would have to dictate it to the local governments. In this area they are usually reluctant to do that.

Re:Ok (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46271399)

Of course they don't compete. Cable companies have government-sanctioned monopolies.

I'd say give them a choice. You can merge if you relinquish your monopoly.

Then we'll see what's most important to them.

Agreed.

Your suggestion is being echoed in other sources. Some stories coming out of even the Media Loving mainstream press suggest
that Comcast will be given a choice of divesting itself of content providers in exchange for allowing them to enlarge their cable plant.

But, interestingly, Others suggest Comcast must allow an open cable plant model, and allow other content providers onto their cable plant with competitive prices, and equal service levels. (For a fee obviously, but one that is regulated). Must-Carry (usually local) channels haven't proved a burden to cable companies (much as they like to bitch about them), so there is already precedent for this.

For once, the press seems universally negative on the idea of this merger, and that in itself is somewhat suspect, because I haven't seen get in lockstep agreement with anything that turned out good for the country in a long long time.

Facilities that are de-facto government sanctioned monopolies are universally regulated, even when the ownership is totally in private hands. That is the price you pay for a monopoly. If you have to move to a different neighborhood or town to get a choice, that's not a choice at all. There is no need for this type of setup in a digital world.

Re:Ok (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 10 months ago | (#46272065)

Must-Carry (usually local) channels haven't proved a burden to cable companies (much as they like to bitch about them), so there is already precedent for this.

Must-carry is pretty much dead. Once a "content provider" asks for money for their content they are no longer "must carry". That's why things like this [twcconversations.com] happen. Every one of those CBS network affiliates could have demanded "must carry" but chose to demand money for the right to carry them (bundled with pay services). And then pointed the finger at TWC for not carrying them. Their own fault.

Facilities that are de-facto government sanctioned monopolies

If they are government created then they are dejure, not defacto. Defacto monopolies exist because of market, not legal, reasons.

Paul Krugman, 1998 (0, Troll)

Third Position (1725934) | about 10 months ago | (#46271045)

"The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in “Metcalfe’s law”–which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants–becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s."

--Paul Krugman, 1998

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271079)

most people have nothing to say to each other!

He was right!

Brilliant.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271127)

And yet here we are...

Context on Paul Krugman, 1998 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271107)

http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-krugman-responds-to-internet-quote-2013-12

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | about 10 months ago | (#46271133)

So... A nationwide broadband monopoly is okey-dokey, then?

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (1)

admiralh (21771) | about 10 months ago | (#46271211)

As long as it's treated under "Common carrier" regulations (like electricity) then yes.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (1)

stinerman (812158) | about 10 months ago | (#46271247)

Yes. That is the kind of logic you get when you've been reading the website he's linking to.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (2, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | about 10 months ago | (#46271173)

Yeah, that and everything else. The guy is a gigantic fraud / propagandist for the power establishment, he has nothing to do with economics, he is a justifier in chief for the money printing elite, that are the actual reason that the economy is dying and as such, it can afford fewer and fewer choices in the market and that is what leads to acquisition and consolidation.

Now, obviously the government created and protects a number of gigantic monopolies / oligopolies, including telecommunications in the USA, this started with the destruction of 3000 competitors to AT&T 100 years back [google.ca] , but this does not mean that people should want more of the same 'solution' that actually created all of these problems in the first place. I could say that Krugman and his ilk are insane, that's their eternal position: government introduces a "solution", which makes things worse, so let's have more government "solutions".

Comcast and Time Warner acquisition is going to happen and if it does not, there will be a bankruptcy and liquidation somewhere there. The same thing happened to Blockbuster as an example, the company had plans to save its business by acquiring rival Hollywood Videos, but FTC prevented that from happening, so the company eventually died. I am not saying with certainty that Blockbuster would not have died if the acquisition went through, but it cannot be known now. What can be known is that the company tried to stay in business and it died, but not before government prevented it from trying to change its business model.

The USA market is shrinking, USA is unproductive, US dollars are fake, Krugman is a huge part of the propaganda that justified destruction of the value of the US dollar and US bonds. To listen to Krugman on any matters at all is insanity.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271255)

prevented it from trying to change its business model

I'm not sure how, "Buy rival chain; continue to rent movies out of brick and mortar stores while totally not getting this new-fangled Internet thing" is 'trying to change its business model', but okay.

Redbox and Netflix broke into Blockbuster's house, tied it up, and took turns doing unspeakable things to it for their own business amusement.

The government, as a nice change of pace, had precisely nothing to do with Blockbuster's death.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (0)

Tailhook (98486) | about 10 months ago | (#46271469)

The guy is a gigantic fraud / propagandist for the power establishment, he has nothing to do with economics, he is a justifier in chief for the money printing elite ... Krugman is a huge part of the propaganda that justified destruction of the value of the US dollar and US bonds. To listen to Krugman on any matters at all is insanity.

Dude, you're messing with the Grand Poobah of libtardery writing that stuff. Years of karma, killed with fire.

Such courage. Damn.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (1)

PraiseBob (1923958) | about 10 months ago | (#46272369)

What can be known is that the company tried to stay in business and it died, but not before government prevented it from trying to change its business model.

Did you know that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings TRIED to sell Netflix to Blockbuster? Blockbuster turned him down.

Blockbuster instead wanted to buy more brick and mortar stores, and continue their existing dying business model rather than invest (very cheaply), in a new distribution model. How is Hollywood Video a new model?? Its the literal exact same model! Both companies went out of business! So you can blame the government all you want for killing Blockbuster, but that's complete nonsense. If neither one can survive as a small company, why on earth do you think they could survive as a giant company? Go ahead and say the magic words "economies of scale", as if Netflix and Redbox and On-Demand, and Hulu, and Amazon, and DVD's at Walmart for the same price as a rental and a million other efficient ways to get your movie don't exist...

Honest question: Are there ANY video rental chains still in existence?

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (1)

MarkWegman (2553338) | about 10 months ago | (#46271177)

Krugman admits to not be a technologist. In the above quote he was asked to be provocative and he was -- and was wrong and admits that. However, this merger is more an economic issue and there he's studied (and has a Nobel) and prognosticated with a high degree of accuracy. Can he be wrong -- sure. Can this merger wreak economic problems for the economy -- more likely. We know monopolies can be bad and too much economic power can cause problems. The burden of proof is really on those who want to argue this will be good for the overall economy and other businesses.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271213)

I disagree. The burden of proof is on those who want to interfere with the right of the rightful owners of these companies to dispose of their property as they damn well please.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271285)

Not when they become part of an infrastructure.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271299)

I disagree. The burden of proof is on those who want to interfere with the right of the rightful owners of these companies to dispose of their property as they damn well please.

TimeWarner runs wires across my property in the utility right of way to sell services to my neighbors. I'm not a subscriber. Should I be able to dispose of my property as I please and dig up their lines? The fact that this merger is even being considered is a sign of how out of hand these monopolies have gotten.

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998 (4, Funny)

jcr (53032) | about 10 months ago | (#46271569)

Krugman admits to not be a technologist.

Well, that's a start. Let us know when he admits to not being an economist.

-jcr

Re:Paul Krugman, 1998; BS alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271541)

From Krugman's FA
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/08/opinion/reckonings-to-boldly-go.html

---
Clearly the Internet is not going to go the way of the CB radio craze of the late 1970's; even when the thrill of novelty is gone, there are a lot of useful things you can do online, and people will continue to do them. But the thrill, it seems, is going, if not entirely gone -- and the number of useful things to do has not grown enough to compensate.
For what it's worth, this matches my personal experience. From 1995 to about 1998 I made ever greater use of the Internet, as the range of things available, the ways I could use it, exploded. But since then I can't say there has been any dramatic improvement; and I, too, am probably spending less time online than I did a year ago.

Enthusiasts for the network economy like to invoke ''Metcalfe's law,'' named after the inventor of the Ethernet. It says that the value of a network depends on the number of possible connections, and hence is proportional not to the number of people on the network, but to the square of that number. It's a recipe for explosive growth.

But not all connections are created equal -- and the more valuable connections tend to get established first. Most of the people I would like to hear from, or who would like to hear from me, are already on the Net; doubling the number of users would not add much to my incentive to spend time online. And what the PricewaterhouseCoopers study suggests is that my experience may be typical -- that the Internet is running into (gasp!) diminishing returns.

Maybe broadband, by allowing a whole new set of online activities, will generate a new burst of growth. Or maybe the boom of the last five years was a one-time event, and henceforth growth -- not just of the Internet but of the economy as a whole -- will slow to more normal levels.

And that's a scary thought. Soaring productivity is a miracle drug that cures many ills, economic and social. What will we do without it?

Barons of Broadband (0)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 10 months ago | (#46271047)

But you can call me BOB. Put your hands in the yellow circles. Thank you for your cooperation.

Who is he talking to (3, Interesting)

neminem (561346) | about 10 months ago | (#46271093)

Certainly not us. We don't really have a choice. Comcast could merge with freaking Verizon, thus giving us the granddaddy of all broadband monopolies and dooming to forever pay too much money for a crappy connection and no recourse when stuff breaks (which would be often), and our choices would be to suck it up, or just suck it. So I'm not sure what he thinks we should be doing about it...?

Re:Who is he talking to (1)

admiralh (21771) | about 10 months ago | (#46271253)

Why do we have to take it?

We need to insist that High-speed Internet is regulated as a "Common carrier", like electricity.

We have Public Utility Commissions that oversee quality and cost for electric, water/sewer, and gas. Why in the world is broadband not added to that?

Exactly. Why take it. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271349)

I stopped my cable because I couldnt' take being fucked anymore by Comcast.

When I tell others why, they just say, "Good for you. I can't give up my sports."

There you go. People love their bread and circuses. They are sheep. They want their NFL and College (slave) ball (its funny that they ARE mostly African American and getting paid shit!). And yet, NFL, ESPN and whatnot are making millions or billions.

I'm not trying to start trouble here, but the black man is still getting exploited..

Just say'in.

Re:Exactly. Why take it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271455)

The low end NFL salary is 375k. I'd like to be an exploited black man for that cash.

Re:Exactly. Why take it. (1)

Master Moose (1243274) | about 10 months ago | (#46271507)

Hell, you could paint me any colour and exploit me for that.

Re:Exactly. Why take it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271711)

The AC was talking about college athletics, not pro.

College players don't get paid, despite the fact that schools use them as cash cows. That is fucked up.

Re:Who is he talking to (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 10 months ago | (#46271339)

It isn't like there is a choice in cable company subscriptions to begin with. This is just moving from oligopoly to monopoly. It is bad, but it already is bad, and there's nothing people can do about it when the politicians who are supposed to regulate it are bought and paid for by corporations.

You're mistaken, though. (2)

Slartibartfast (3395) | about 10 months ago | (#46271483)

Comcast *does* compete with Verizon -- directly. Their FiOS and DSL options are direct competition for both TV and high-speed Internet -- in the *same* geographic region -- that Comcast offers. There's no way in Hell the gov't would approve an acquisition or merger of those two.

Comcast challengers? What is K been smoking? (2)

mveloso (325617) | about 10 months ago | (#46271109)

Who exactly is rising up to challenge cable monopolies? What downstream challengers is he talking about? Netflix? Aereo?

Did someone forget to pay off Krugman today?

Re:Comcast challengers? What is K been smoking? (3, Interesting)

MarkWegman (2553338) | about 10 months ago | (#46271181)

If you read the article you'd know he was pointing out that with this merger Comcast could force other companies that provide them with content sweetheart deals.

Re:Comcast challengers? What is K been smoking? (1)

Rhys (96510) | about 10 months ago | (#46271189)

Projects like municipal broadband. Comcast and co are terrified and buy state legislators in order to shut it down. Hopefully we'll get a few of them out of the gates quickly enough that are fantastically wild successes that comcast and co get shot down.

Re:Comcast challengers? What is K been smoking? (4, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | about 10 months ago | (#46272165)

Who exactly is rising up to challenge cable monopolies? What downstream challengers is he talking about? Netflix? Aereo?

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple, Google, etc.

If I'm some dinky little neighborhood cable company, and I'm negotiating a contract with Viacom for carriage on my network (with my 30,000 subscribers) and I insist that part of the agreement is that they can't license any of their shows/movies for streaming from Netflix, Viacom would tell me to fuck off.

Now, if it's Comcast instead, Viacom has a hard choice... Do they cut access to all their shows off from the 40 million Netflix subscribers, or from the 30 million Comcast subscribers? How about if they do the same to HBO, and their DVD releases have to be delayed an extra year...?

so-called (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271129)

adjective : doubtful or suspect; "these so-called experts are no help".

I don't get it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271131)

How come Americans take this BS. How is it you have really crappy broadband and shy is a free market government sanctioning a monopoly?

Let them merge then split (5, Interesting)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 10 months ago | (#46271165)

Let them merge and then split into two companies; the one that owns the fiber/hardware and the one that sells services. Force the hardware company to sell bandwidth to anyone that wants to offer services.

Re:Let them merge then split (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#46271259)

Agreed. If you aren't going to do that, it doesn't matter much if they merge or not.

Re:Let them merge then split (3, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 10 months ago | (#46271263)

While this kind of arrangement has finally worked itself out in the telecom divestiture, for a long time it was a big big mess. Especially messy for the consumer who was stuck trying to get problems fixed. "It's the local loop." "It's your long distance provider". "If we come out to fix the wire and it turns out to be your CPE, we'll charge you a large fee for a visit."

And for a very long time it was a real battleground for the long distance carriers (i.e. "content"). Consumers would get called regularly trying to get them to change carriers, and then get "slammed" -- involuntary changes. You'd get a number that started out 10-xxx-... and find out after you called it that you had manually picked a shyster LD company that charged astronomical rates.

Sure, yeah, let's do it all again with cable TV.

Re:Let them merge then split (2)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 10 months ago | (#46271361)

Except they know the issues now for the most part; they can do it right if they want.

Re:Let them merge then split (3, Informative)

don.g (6394) | about 10 months ago | (#46271939)

The trick is to have the lines providers wholesale to the retail ISPs/etc, who then provide CPE. If the service doesn't work, the end user's contract is with their retail service provider, who has to sort it out, no matter where the problem is. That's how it works here in New Zealand on our fancy new fibre network that's slowly replacing the old copper phone network. It's mostly how it worked on the old copper network, too.

My ISP (Orcon) provide CPE (a router with voice ports) that plugs into the fibre company's ONT. If the internet or phone doesn't work, it's Orcon's problem. I don't have a contractual relationship with the fibre company so if it's the fibre that's down, it's still Orcon's problem as far as I'm concerned.

Re:Let them merge then split (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271775)

Agreed, it isn't their physical footprint that matters its their end-to-end creation and distribution that gives them excessive control over the playing field. Comcast owns content like NBC, Telemundo, and Universal that their competition needs to carry to be competitive. I work for a small telco that offers IPTV and Comcast just told us to expect our costs to double next year... literally 100% increases. There really isn't much money in video (it's just there to upsell Internet and Phone in a triple play bundle) so those increases will get passed along to consumers. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just the channels that people watch, but they make us take a dozen other junk channels that get zero viewers and force us to put them in the "most penetrated" tier package if we want the good channels - so everyone gets hit with the fees.

Any operational advantages of the merger? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271183)

Are there any operational advantages to a Comcast/Time Warner Merger? Both companies are already pretty big, would there be significant operational advantages to being a larger cable company? Is the advantage of negotiating power with the big media corporations that important? Is it the power to squash Netflix?

AT&T Breakup Pt. 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271227)

It'll happen again, right?

News at 11. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271235)

Jewish commie hates capitalism. Big surprise.
He'll certainly find plenty of friends on /.

The wrong approach. (1)

plebeian (910665) | about 10 months ago | (#46271329)

Honestly I think blocking the merger is the wrong approach to anti-trust. What we should to is mandate the separation of content distribution and connectivity. The cable companies are leveraging their connectivity monopoly created by the cable Franchise agreements to create a larger monopoly. These franchise agreements were created for the purpose of making content available to under served customers. Now that there are multiple connectivity options (DSL, Cable modem, Fiber...etc) we should decouple the local connectivity from the content distribution. Let those who have DSL or FIBER from another vendor sign up for Time Warner CABLE TV content (via streaming service) and let people served by TW data connections choose another TV provider.

Krugman's hero conjures "animal spirits". Really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271347)

Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271379)

The reason they don't exist in the same markets is because you can't have two cable providers in one area. They would have to compete with each other to be the sole provider in each market. That's the reason they cannot, and will never, exist in the same zip code. It's intentionally misleading.

Har har, don't care (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#46271389)

We've already separated the incumbent into wholesale/retail/network companies.

As a Comcast employee... (5, Interesting)

Slartibartfast (3395) | about 10 months ago | (#46271453)

I don't really know how I feel about the acquisition. I think some of the things Krugman talks about -- e.g., no incentive to upgrade networks -- certainly has validity; I also know that we *HATE* network congestion, and just in my unit, alone, spend tens of millions a year to avoid it. Of course, without incentive, that's just 'cause we feel like doing that, not because we have to.

The one that has me really, truly worried, though, is Net Neutrality. I am *STRONGLY* in favor of the FCC saying "F*** you all: it's time," and pushing it out. I think that neutrality, combined with the rise (and eventual commoditization) of cellular networks, as well as good ol' Ma Bell and DSL, will be able to offer competing solutions. Of course, then there's satellite, as well, but the inherent latency makes that a poorer option by definition.

Comcast is, however, essentially right: they don't compete with other cable companies because of the infrastructure; one thing that might be interesting -- though I have a sneaking suspicion Republicans would cry foul about over-regulation all day long -- would be if the gov't enforced a move akin to the telecom and power companies: if cable companies could offer the landline connection, but you were able to get service from anyone. That would go a great way toward leveling the playing field.

Re:As a Comcast employee... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#46272237)

would be if the gov't enforced a move akin to the telecom and power companies: if cable companies could offer the landline connection, but you were able to get service from anyone.

Except that's half-assed in the case of telecoms in the USA...

Failed Enron Economist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271497)

Krugman: If he's not wrong, he's probably dead.

Say No to Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46271925)

Say No to Comcast. There really isn't anything else necessary beyond that.

Not to mention (1)

DaveJ45 (685257) | about 10 months ago | (#46271969)

Not to mention that this type of merger would give Comcast a roughly 30% revenue boost. Revenue they have already shown us all that they are quite capable of using to bribe government employees at all levels to promote their own financial interests over the rights and protections those same government employees are charged with protecting!

Dead horse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46272023)

This merger, when it goes through, is bad. He knows it. WE all know it. Yet it will still go through.

What really shocks me in this, is that there is no mainstream voice for opposition against monopolistic principles in America. It really is as though, the American people love the idea of competition in a given market place, but in practice, they don't want the choice because then they'd have to make another decision on something in their lives.

This country needs an enema! Or a plague! I'm not sure which would be better at this point!

Oh ya (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46272205)

Why did his buddy boy Obama allow the vertical Comcast/NBC and Ticketmaster/LiveNation mergers?

Krugman Not Wrong? (0)

intangible (252848) | about 10 months ago | (#46272389)

I've been living the last few years of doing and believing the exact opposite of anything Krugman says and it's served me very well.
Never before has there been someone as consistently wrong on every subject as that guy...
Yet this time, he gets something right?

I'm so confused as to how to proceed...

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