National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs
used a speech in Florida Wednesday to scold Viacom Inc. and The Walt Disney Co.
for advocating government regulation of the emerging interactive-television
Sachs pointed out that Viacom and Disney are media giants with $160 billion
in combined market capitalization that regularly demonstrate that they have the
clout to strike deals with cable operators.
'With interactive TV, the menu hasn't even been printed, but some are already
demanding a free lunch,' Sachs said in a keynote address to the Society of Cable
Telecommunications Engineers in Orlando.
Sachs also commented that Viacom and Disney tend to be selective in their
calls for government intervention in the cable market.
'Ironically, as video-on-demand start-ups like Diva [Systems Corp.] and In
Demand [L.L.C.] struggle to obtain [movies] from Hollywood studios, Disney-owned
Buena Vista Television and Viacom's Paramount Pictures refuse to make their
first-run movies available to video-on-demand on cable,' Sachs said.
Sachs indicated that any problems that crop up in both the VOD and
interactive-TV markets should be solved by affected companies, and not by the
Federal Communications Commission.
'Should the government require Disney and Viacom to sell their first-run
movies to cable? Of course not. But nor should the government require cable
operators to carry whatever ITV services these companies might develop in the
future,' Sachs said.
Broad FCC involvement in the interactive-TV market as advocated by Viacom and
Disney 'would only serve to discourage investment and slow deployment,' he
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