Another revealing skirmish in what can be called the “network neutrality” wars. Comcast is using its power as a government-sanctioned broadband and cable TV monopoly to impose content restrictions on one of the world’s biggest media companies. One should hardly feel sorry for Disney/ABC. But, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine (“Comcast-Disney Fight Simmers,” 3/20/06), Comcast is using its clout to limit how Disney can distribute their programming “through the Internet, cellphones or other distribution schemes.” If the Bush FCC hadn’t awarded phone and cable conglomerates full control over broadband distribution in the U.S., Disney could probably reject Comcast’s digital squeeze play. But it can’t, especially if wants to maximize its TV and online distribution. This show-biz tiff should serve as a warning. Online content providers smaller than the “Mouse House” will likely face similar strong-arm treatment from cable and large telephone companies as Verizon.
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