Carriers Must Carry – Even Stuff They Don’t Like

A recent situation brings an ugly carrier behavior to light once again – picking and choosing what to carry. This kind of nonsense should be illegal.

I received a press release from a company called Mohu, who make a well-reviewed flat-panel broadcast TV antenna. I do not use this product myself, but, being an engineer who works in wireless, I've enjoyed learning about the product. There's some interesting technology here, but that's not important right now.

So, anyway, imagine my surprise when, reviewing the press release, I learned that Time Warner Cable has refused to run an advertising campaign featuring the company's products, allegedly because the ads point out that users of the Mohu can receive programming without paying for cable.

OK, so that allegedly part is indeed true; a spokesperson from Time Warner confirmed to me that they in fact will not run ads for services that compete with their own voice, data, or video services. In this case, video includes broadcast, a/k/a free TV.

It's no surprise that Time Warner doesn't want its subscribers to know about options that might affect their revenue stream; I get that. But a carrier using a public conveyance, be that the airwaves or cable of any form running across public lands, shouldn't be allowed to aid and abet the deliberate withholding of information of value to the general public. In other words, I think what Time Warner has done here is at the minimum reprehensible, and, IMHO, such practices should be illegal. I know that carrier claim a First Amendment right here, and I hate to side with the Occupy Wall Street crowd, but I must agree with at least one of their points: corporations are not people. They have no Constitutional rights. They are regulated. And the regulators had better remember on whose behalf they regulate!

I've said this before - carriers must carry. Their advertising space must be open to all lawful advertisers. Intentionally preventing the dissemination of lawful information for selfish purposes is - well, you get this idea. Any lawyers out there want to take this one up? It's time!

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