Congress created regulations requiring cable operators to provide access to "all comers."
Publishers have it made. (I should know, I've been one for eight years.) For us, access is easy. Anyone can become a publisher--all you need is a PC, page layout software, a printing vendor and lots of stamps.
Producing TV programming shouldn't be much different, but it is. All you need is a camcorder, a PC for editing and a TV network willing to carry your program. Producing the show isn't really much more difficult than publishing, but gaining distribution through a TV network is very different from buying stamps.
That's because the Post Office is a "common carrier." It provides nondiscriminatory access to "all-comers"--just like the phone company. In fact, so supportive is the Post Office of the publishers' mission to provide information, that it gives us an 80 percent discount (in the form of second class mail). Our founding fathers created this postal subsidy for all publishers because they believed the free flow of information and diverse opinions from all sources were indispensable to democracy and freedom.
Unfortunately, cable networks don't feel the same way. They like providing information only when it's theirs.
Ten years ago Congress realized that 65 percent of the country subscribes to cable TV, and that the public has an interest in the free flow of information over those cable wires.
So Congress created regulations requiring cable operators to provide access to "all comers." Congress ordered cable operators to set aside 10 percent of their channels for leasing to anyone willing to pay a reasonable fee. Independent TV producers felt that this would be cheaper and more efficient than using the Post Office to deliver plastic VHS cassettes to the viewers' households.
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