Who owes who? Big media vs. broadband providers

Should media companies be grateful to digital distributors for bringing their stuff to the masses? Or should distributors be grateful to the content producers for giving consumers a reason to subscribe?

The answer, of course, is that they’re both benefiting – it’s capitalism at its best. But that doesn’t stop either from complaining to the government that they deserve more.

As Techdirt amusingly observes, the dichotomy is on fully display currently in Canada and the UK. In the former country, the entertainment industry is pushing for laws that require broadband providers to fund local content creation. In the latter, meanwhile, there’s a movement to require the BBC to help fund broadband deployment.

Normally I’d say the market will just sort itself out – whichever side needs the other more will pay if threatened with losing the partnerships. However things get much more complicated when you’re talking about regulations and laws – in which case it becomes a question of who can convince politicians and bureaucrats, be it through rational arguments or lobbying.

Luckily here in the U.S., where the government doesn’t subsidize media nearly as much as in other nations, we don’t have to worry about that particular political war. But the flip side is with a less involved government, we have the issue of big corporations squeezing out the rest of the market. Thus the “Net Neutrality” debate, where some big media companies are happy to pay broadband providers – in return for preferential treatment in delivery that could give them a competitive advantage over content companies with fewer resources.

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