Well get ready to imagine, because if Charter CEO Tom Rutledge is correct, we may be looking at a future in which two cable companies — perhaps the two worst in terms of customer service — split the country right down the middle. A paywall locked Wall Street Journal article, reported on by Boy Genius Report, has the following to say:
Liberty Media CEO John Malone and Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge are now preaching “the gospel of consolidation” to their fellow cable executives as they push for the cable industry to become an outright duopoly. Rutledge tells the Journal that he sees the cable industry eventually boiling down to “two major players” that will most likely be Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The Journal reports that Rutledge sees further consolidation as important to the cable industry because it “would help cable companies control costs, giving them more leverage over media companies that supply TV programming, and would put them on stronger footing to invest in new technologies.”
Yes, because clearly the industry will benefit from less competition. It’s probably safe to read “control costs” as “force the content providers to take whatever we offer them,” and “invest in new technologies” as “find new ways to make people for bloated, bundled packages they don’t want.”
The thing is, we genuinely need smaller, regional cable companies, if only to keep the big boys in line (granted, that hasn’t proven to be 100% effective in practice, although editor Dennis Burger swears by his local ISP, Knology, at least for fast, affordable internet and phone service). A good shove by a regulatory body could also do wonders to lower your cable bill, and jump start service with competition without stifling innovation in the slightest.