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Former Cable Czar John Malone Says Internet Video is Too Chaotic: It Needs to Be Controlled (By Them)

Phillip Dampier May 28, 2009 Issues 5 Comments
Dr. John Malone

Dr. John Malone

Dr. John Malone, who formerly presided over TeleCommunications, Inc., (TCI, which became AT&T Cable, which then merged with Comcast) has decided that the Internet video free-for-all is too confusing and chaotic for Internet users, and told The Wall Street Journal‘s “D7: All Things Digital” conference attendees that online video needs a “content aggregator” to control and package online video for consumers.  Oh, and by the way, they also need to charge for watching it.

Malone, who now runs Liberty Media, a programming distribution and entertainment company closely aligned with the cable and satellite television industry, said his company would be perfect for the job.

“We’d love to be the aggregator; so would the cable industry,” he said.

Malone also said the traditional model of television is changing, where networks and channels are becoming less important than individual programs.  The worst mistake, in his view, is that content providers are giving it all away for free online when they should be charging a fee instead.

“Clearly advertising has proven to be insufficient, particularly in cycles we go through, to create robust product creation and distribution,” he said.

He pointed to Hulu as a failed model, because it doesn’t have enough ads to generate revenue to produce new content, and relies mostly on reruns and older shows that have been seen on television for years.

Malone compares the online video world to the early days of cable television, before cable programmers began exponentially increasing their rates in order to produce or purchase more “valuable” programming.  Malone claims he understands the dilemma of subscribers who are used to getting content for free, but feels that has to change, and customers will pay for programming they want to see.

He pointed to sports programming in particular, noting the success of the $300 annual fee for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, which offers every pro football game to viewers.

Malone has a controversial history, however, being called the head of a “Cable Cosa Nostra” mafia-like family of industry executives and “cable’s Darth Vadar” by then Sen. Al Gore (D-TN).  That was because Malone was a proponent of maintaining strict and unyielding control over programming, and extracting top dollar for the right to view it.  Turning John Malone loose on broadband Internet video has every indication of becoming a repeat performance, where content is served through an online portal controlled by him or other industry executives, and at a price every American should refuse.

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jr
jr
12 years ago

This is like the outhouse industry complaining we use toilets

Bill
Bill
12 years ago
Reply to  jr

It IS the outhouse industry. 😛

Rob
Rob
12 years ago

The Cable industry has the money to get Congress on the side. It is up to every one of us to watch and stop this from happening.

Dean S.B.
Dean S.B.
12 years ago

And THIS from a man who had presided over a company who was the KING of providing only paltry service and very high prices!! During the mid-1990’s, Malone’s TCI owned the then ONLY cable TV system here in town, and all they offered was an old (circa early-1980’s) 35-channel cable system, that only provided a maximum 30 channels of basic cable for $27.95 a month. And what did we get for that $27.95 a month? We got CRAPPY service (the cable would go out quite frequently, and there would be NOTHING the cable company would actually DO about it!! But… Read more »

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