Public interest groups want antitrust scrutiny for TV Everywhere

Mon, 01/04/2010 - 7:55am
Mike Robuck

Today, public interest groups were slated to send letters to the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission that asked the agencies to look at antitrust issues related to TV Everywhere initiatives by service providers.

Free Press and other public advocacy groups contend that TV Everywhere services bind consumers to unnecessarily high monthly subscription fees and inhibit competition, according to a story in The Washington Post.

By providing content over the Internet to their subscribers, the groups said Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon and DirecTV have unfair advantage over online video competitors that include Hulu, Amazon, Apple and Vuze.

According to The Washington Post, the public interest groups also alleged collusion between Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon and DirecTV to keep video content in a walled garden based on subscriptions.

National Cable & Telecommunications Association President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow, in a blog post, said: “Free Press’ description of TV Everywhere is a reminder of the admonition that people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own set of facts.”

Time Warner Inc. released the following statement: “Time Warner is committed to providing consumers who subscribe to cable, satellite, telephone or other multi-video platforms with more value for their money, by allowing them to watch their favorite shows when they want to watch them on both their TVs and over the Internet at no additional charge. That is what TV Everywhere is, and it is quite plainly beneficial for consumers. We will also continue to pursue many other ways to distribute in a safe and secure way over the Internet our content to people, whether or not they subscribe to a video service.”

Comcast and Time Warner Cable didn’t comment on the groups’ allegations by deadline this morning.

Rogers launched its version of TV Everywhere in late November, while Comcast’s Fancast Xfinity went live nationwide in a beta trial last month.

Time Warner Cable is also conducting a trial of its TV Everywhere service by using Turner’s Web portals. AT&T has launched a similar service on its own Web site that, for now, is largely dependant on video from Hulu.

More Broadband Direct 1/04/10:
•  Public interest groups want antitrust scrutiny for TV Everywhere
•  All signs point to Nexus One tomorrow
•  Comcast SportsNet accused of abusing power
•  ACA agitates for STB relief
•  Comcast expands D3 reach in Calif.
•  Comcast settles data discrimination lawsuit
•  NCTA updates CableCard scorecard
•  Videotron wireless on track - mostly
•  Cable TV standoffs threaten viewing costs, choices
•  Broadcasters' woes could spell trouble for free TV
•  Gadget makers focus on cost-effective temptations
•  Broadband Briefs for 01/04/10



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