What an unregulated Internet looks like

San Francisco Chronicle


News Corp. just showed us what the unregulated Internet looks like, and it looks ugly for consumers. For several days last month, News Corp. blocked Cablevision subscribers in the New York area from accessing Fox programming over the Internet because of the dispute between Fox and Cablevision on how much Cablevision will pay Fox for its programming.

Pause for a moment: In the middle of a contentious and shrill national debate on whether Internet services should be subject to nondiscrimination rules, News Corp. decides to block a group of users from viewing its content online. News Corp. stepped in, just as Wellpoint did during the health care debate last spring when it proposed raising health insurance premiums in California by 39 percent. News Corp.'s actions show how easy it is to block certain users by IP addresses, that consumers' interests don't matter and that it believes it has no public interest obligations. It's all about leveraging market power to extract the last dollar from cable viewers.