The Atlantic 3/18/10

Max Fisher

Mar 18 2010, 11:30 AM ET

The death of cable television would probably still be inevitable without the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband plan, which aims to expand broadband Internet access to 90% of Americans and dramatically increase access speeds. But the measure, if it passes, will accelerate the demise of cable television as the standard method of consuming television. Now that Google is leading the way in developing Internet TV, the rise of this technology will come even faster.

Cable TV was always a bad model for the consumer because, in a sense, you’re paying twice. When you watch The Daily Show, for example, you pay the cable company to bring Comedy Central’s programming into your home. But you also contribute to Comedy Central’s bottom line by watching its ads. However, the Internet allows you to connect directly to Comedy Central without the cable company go-between. You only pay once — either with your eyeballs on, or with your wallet on iTunes. (Sure, you have to pay for Internet access, but if you consider it a necessary utility rather than an optional luxury, as the FCC’s national broadband plan clearly does, then that cost is incidental. That is, access to streaming TV shows isn’t the primary reason you buy Internet access. It’s a bonus.)

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