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News Corp. Shuts Off Hulu Access To Cablevision 316

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-fox-for-you dept.
ideonexus writes "Normally when we advocate Net Neutrality, we are talking about preventing ISPs from discriminating against content providers, but in this case, the content provider is discriminating against the ISP. Is this a new dimension in the Net Neutrality fight? From the article: 'Cablevision internet customers lost access to Fox.com and Fox programming on Hulu for a time Saturday afternoon — the result of a misguided effort on News Corp.'s part to cut off online viewing as an alternative in its standoff with the cable operator over retrans fees. Fox stations in NYC, Philadelphia, and New Jersey went dark at midnight Friday when negotiations between the two broke down.'"
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News Corp. Shuts Off Hulu Access To Cablevision

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  • Oblig. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @12:45PM (#33924524)
    And nothing of value was lost...
    • Re:Oblig. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:01PM (#33924628)
      Hey now, Fox has, in the past, had decent programming; Firefly comes to mind. Of course, Fox also has a habit of killing off cool series, though I guess withholding access to their entire network from millions of people is a new level entirely.
      • Re:Oblig. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:19PM (#33924784)
        Yes, and whenever they find themselves in the odd position of having genuinely engaging material, they cancel it as soon as they can. Or they put it in a bad time slot, like after sporting events or move it all over the schedule.

        Quality programming for them is pretty much accidental and a failing on the part of the execs to properly kill it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rtb61 (674572)

          This is not about programming this is about censorship. Basically if you used their cable to access the internet, the censored your connection whilst they entered into negotiations with a supplier and used that loss of customer access to leverage the negotiations in there favour.

          Their customers were of course just screwed over and used as nothing pawns to barter with to Fox's advantage

          This is forewarning of exactly why net neutrality is required and why the executives who did this should go to jail. Th

          • Re:Oblig. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bhtooefr (649901) <`gro.rfeoothb' `ta' `rfeoothb'> on Monday October 18, 2010 @05:36AM (#33930338) Homepage Journal

            Except it wasn't the ISP that did it. They're allowing full access to Hulu.

            It was Fox, who runs Hulu, because another division of the ISP rejected a rate increase from Fox.

            In this case, you're arguing for being unable to drop China at the firewall protecting your web server, for instance - that would violate your definition of net neutrality.

            Alternately, the only other way that would work is that literally everyone that wants to get paid for access gets paid what they want to get paid, and if you don't pay someone, you get shut down. That's a disgusting thought.

            Real net neutrality means that you can access any site without your ISP blocking or slowing down access, and there's no signs that that's been breached here, as Cablevision isn't blocking Hulu for Cablevision customers, HULU is blocking Hulu for Cablevision customers.

      • Re:Oblig. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by FoolishOwl (1698506) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:04PM (#33925480) Journal

        One explanation of Firefly I'd heard was that, while Fox didn't like Joss Whedon, they knew he was too good to allow the competition to have him. So they got him on contract, then ran the show in a terrible slot for its demographic, messed up the order of episodes, and generally, did everything they could to submerge the show without outright killing it.

        • Re:Oblig. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @04:04PM (#33925896)

          Would a corporation sacrifice profit to screw with Joss? No. It was an incompetent TV exec that wanted to give priority to shows appealing to the female tween market. Just look at the line up now from all the networks except for CBS and NBC. How many vampire or metro-sexual 90210 wannabes do we have to have?

          Tweens rule the broadcast market...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by CodeBuster (516420)

            It was an incompetent TV exec that wanted to give priority to shows appealing to the female tween market.

            You know, its funny that you should bring that up that because I mentioned Firefly to one of my coworkers last year and, after watching a few of the episodes on Hulu with his tween daughter, they liked the show so much that he bought the television series and Serenity on DVD as a birthday gift for her. Firefly was, to paraphrase Leonard Nemoy, one of those "lightning in a bottle" type shows that come around only once in great while and the executives at Fox still managed to frak it all up because they can't

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by nacturation (646836) *

              I mentioned Firefly to one of my coworkers last year and, after watching a few of the episodes on Hulu with his tween daughter, they liked the show so much that he bought the television series and Serenity on DVD as a birthday gift for her.

              I am strangely persuaded by your sample size of one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fermion (181285)
        Fox has no interest in keeping viewers happy. Many of you may not know it, but The Simpsons was not the show that allowed Fox to enter, literally, the prime time game. It was Married with Children. Married got the rating that allowed Fox to charge the advertising rates that allowed other shows, such as The Simpsons to flourish. No one knew that Fox existed back them, except for Married.

        And how did Fox reward the show that made the network and the reward the fans. By Canceling it without a goodbye epi

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Other than the outrageous amount of commercials (which plague all pro sports in the US), Fox NFL broadcasts are really good.

      It's the viewing of everything in life as a football game that's problematic.

    • And nothing of value was lost...

      Currently FOX has:
      - Fringe - Decent SciFi replacement to the XFiles mechanic, only even better.
      - House - One of the better medical dramas on today, though I have to admit it's gotten stale.
      - Bones - A decent crime procedural drama following a forensic anthropologist. I still DVR it from time to time.

      I couldn't care less about Simpsons / Family Guy / Cleveland Show. And a lot of their stuff is fluff.

      But they have some decent primetime shows as well.

  • But of course.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpux (970708) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @12:50PM (#33924554)

    The Fox content at Hulu was restored when they realized they didn't have the capability to block only Cablevision customers in the area. All of the NY/Philly area was blacked out, when their beef is only with one ISP.

    • Re:But of course.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pavon (30274) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:04PM (#33924648)

      Did they really do that? Idiots. It isn't hard to get a list of IP blocks allocated an ISP.

      To me this brings up another example of how the general idea of net neutrality is simple, while the details are not. Most of us would agree that this behavior is anti-competitive, but where do you draw the line? Many sites block entire countries, because they don't have the legal right to serve the same content in all regions. Many sites ban entire countries or IP blocks due to spamming and/or other malicious behavior that has come from those blocks. Is that acceptable? If so, given that you can find malicious behavior coming just about every IP block (botnets), does that mean that it could be used an excuse to ban whoever you wish?

      • Many sites block entire countries, because they don't have the legal right to serve the same content in all regions

        Do they have some other operation in that country? Why should they care about foreign laws?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Peeteriz (821290)

          They care about their local laws and business contracts.
          Let's suppose I'm in USA and have an agreement with a company in USA that allows them to distribute my content only within countries A, B and C. If they I see them distributing it worldwide with no restrictions at all, then my lawyers start counting money already.

        • by jonbryce (703250)

          Take BBC iPlayer for example. They buy the UK rights to some TV shows from companies who sold other country rights to other people. Those companies would not be happy if the BBC made their shows available on iPlayer to those other countries.

          Also, for shows they make themselves, they sell other country rights to TV stations abroad. Those TV stations wouldn't be happy about handing money over to the BBC if the shows are available for free on iPlayer.

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:25PM (#33925228) Journal

        Most of us would agree that this behavior is anti-competitive, but where do you draw the line? Many sites block entire countries, because they don't have the legal right to serve the same content in all regions. Many sites ban entire countries or IP blocks due to spamming and/or other malicious behavior that has come from those blocks. Is that acceptable?

        The line is drawn at anticompetitive behavior.
        Leveraging your power in one market in order to influence a related market is anticompetitive and it's what Fox just did.

        Not having [regional] rights to air something & banning malicious network blocks are completely unrelated.

      • Re:But of course.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Alsee (515537) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @05:08PM (#33926266) Homepage

        Many sites block entire countries, because they don't have the legal right to serve the same content in all regions.

        Note that we should not confuse copyright with idiotic contract terms attempting to manufacture a licensing model.

        Obviously a website (or a TV broadcast antenna, or a book manufacturer) has to obey copyright law at that location. Obviously they have to license any relevant copying or distribution rights, at that location.

        The website *is* licensed to serve the content. The issue is contracts that require websites to block IP address ranges in some warped attempt to simulate licensing of the person at the other end.

        A TV show can license a TV broadcast antenna that happens to be in the US, but there is nothing "regional" about licensing. The copyright holder is not licensing the people who receive it, he is licensing the broadcast antenna. Someone in Canada does not need any license at all to turn his TV to that channel and receive it. The most the copyright holder can do is get the antenna station to sign a contract promising to point the antenna away from Canada. There is nothing "regional" about any of the the copyright licensing itself. The station has the licensed right to transmit. If someone in Canada, or even Japan, has a really good TV set and can pick up the signal that is not a violation of any license.

        A book author can license a book manufacturer who happens to be in the US, but there is nothing "regional" about licensing. The copyright holder isn't giving any sort of license for "regional readers". The copyright holder is not giving any license at all to any readers, because under copyright law there is no such thing as a license to read. People without licenses can just plain read, regardless of any permission the copyright holder wants to grant or deny. The most the book author can do is get the book manufacturer to sign a contract promising not to willfully mail the book out of the US themselves. The manufacturer is licensed to print copies. There is no license violation if someone in Japan buys the book secondhand from someone in the US and reads it. The person reading the book in Japan doesn't involve any sort of "regional licensing" because they don't need any license at all to read it.

        The same goes for websites. A copyright holder can ask the website to sign a contract promising to block various IP-ranges, but is just an effort to manufacture or simulate some sort of regional idea. Aside from the contractual promise to block certain IP addresses there is nothing actually regional about any of the copyright or licensing. And is is false and stupid to try to use IP addresses in that manner. Yes, IP addresses are usually pretty accurate at telling you were the other end is located, but it is a grossly flawed assumption. Hopefully the increase of proxies and advancing internet technology will make it increasingly obvious that an IP address is not a location, and that trying to us IP addresses to limit websites to national borders is impossible and stupid.

        -

  • by Torinir (870836) <torinir@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @12:51PM (#33924556) Homepage Journal
    I don't know... I think that denying access to Fox's website and Hulu feed could be considered a public service, but that's just my opinion.
  • Not exactly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeadDecoy (877617) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @12:54PM (#33924590)
    In this case, the owner of the content are deciding where/how they want it hosted versus net neutrality where ISPs can potentially act as the gate keepers to content and charge a toll for those accessing and those supplying content. The difference is that the latter prevents a neutral ground for competing or simply posting information up.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @12:55PM (#33924594)
    ESPN already does this, and we have already criticized them for it.
  • by PatPending (953482) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @12:59PM (#33924624)

    No TV? No Internet? What are we gonna do?

    The effect of this will be manifested about nine months later...

  • Torrents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dark42 (1085797) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:07PM (#33924664)

    I think this is a really stupid move on the part of News Corp, now they're just gonna deprive themselves of the advertising revenue that Cablevision customers brought to Hulu. Meanwhile, torrents still exist, and the downloaded shows tend to have the ads cut out...

  • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:12PM (#33924710) Homepage

    Network neutrality is about the network being neutral w.r.t. the content it carries.

    This is about content providers being neutral, not about network neutrality. Please do not try to confuse the network neutrality discussion by mixing it up with other, unrelated debates.

    • by dachshund (300733) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @03:00PM (#33925464)

      Don't be fooled by the apparent dissimilarity of the two problems. At a fundamental level they're very much related. You have large, entrenched organizations that own content and, in some cases run broadband networks -- facing off against large entrenched organizations that own broadband networks and, in some cases, produce content. The two nearly identical sides are running an experiment, trying to use their market power to try to force each other into favorable business terms.

      In both cases the customers are being treated like an asset to be sold, or held hostage, while the corporations use them as a bargaining chip in their real business decisions. Sure, the negotiations can go either direction, but eventually it's the smaller players who are going to get locked out of the game.

      In fact, this kind of thing is directly related to the net neutrality argument, because it presents a terrific counterargument for the ISPs. If the ISPs are required to be neutral, but the content providers aren't, then we're essentially going to take away one of the ISPs only weapons in what is really a two-sided business war. I don't love this argument, but I believe it could be persuasive.

      At very least you need to understand this as one skirmish in a much broader conflict.

    • by melikamp (631205)
      I agree. What TFS describes is just an instance of self-censorship. And if I run my own content servers, I can elect to block China, or 173.194.255.255, or that one guy in the basement, or everyone, and this has nothing whatsoever to do with the NN, since I am not an ISP. As long as we have the actual NN and people are allowed to employ P2P applications, my blocks (counter to intuition) will become less relevant as my content becomes more popular. So really: nothing of value was lost.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:30PM (#33924852)

    I call my cancer, the main one, the pancreas one, I call it Rupert, so I can get close to it, because the man Murdoch is the one who, if I had the time - in fact I've got too much writing to do and I haven't got the energy - but I would shoot the bugger if I could.

    -- Dennis Potter (source [youtube.com])

  • by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:31PM (#33924864)
    I work in the satellite dish industry. We are dealing with and fairly informed on the News Corp/Dish Network dispute. On the CableVision side, News Corp is trying to raise their rates from $70 mil to $150 mil, over a 100% increase. With Dish Network, they are trying to force Dish to include the Fox Sports regional networks into the lowest package, which would raise that package $5/month ($40 to $45). News Corp is trying to tell Dish how to run their business. There are plenty of people that don't care about sports and don't want to pay the extra money for it. The reason News Corp wants their Sports channels in the lowest package is to increase (the perceived) viewership numbers so they can raise their advertising rates.

    A lot of the Dish Net/Cablevision customer won't see beyond "my channels are gone" and switch to a different provider. That is exactly the wrong thing to do. Dish Net/Cablevision are fighting to keep our rates down, but they can't do it if everybody jumps ship. Dish won the recent battle against Fisher Communications, they were trying to raise their rates 78% for over the air, tax payer subsidized "free" channels. Fisher Communications was already the highest paid among their piers, and wanted to nearly double their rates.
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:36PM (#33924912)
      Ironically, videos delivered over the Internet should be rescuing us from this sort of behavior -- we should not have to worry about two large corporations that we really have no say in the conduct of getting into a spat and suddenly making videos inaccessible to us. Of course, we are, once again, relying on large corporations (Youtube, Hulu) whose conduct we have no say over to provide us with our videos...
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by MicroRoller (1923300)

        Ironically, videos delivered over the Internet should be rescuing us from this sort of behaviorOf course, we are, once again, relying on large corporations (Youtube, Hulu) whose conduct we have no say over to provide us with our videos...

        What's ironic is that the Fox shows that cablevision dropped and are available via hulu are passing through people's bodies for free right now. A $40 antenna should pick up Fox in most markets. The HD picture is actually seems better over the air compared to cable. The only time I use my set top box now is for the DVR and for some channels that are only available through the STB. I'm planning on building a mythtv box to fix that. Unfortunately there's one channel I can only get through a cable/sat/fios p

    • I heard on the radio the other day on the Clark Howard show that Dish is still charging their customers full price for the News Corp channels that people paid for ( I guess you have to get a premium package or something to get them) even though they aren't receiving them, The caller stated that he paid for them and isn't getting them and when he asked the customer service rep for a refund or discount, the DIsh rep said too bad.

      It doesn't sound like Dish is the good guys here either.

      As far as I'm concerned,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Brad1138 (590148)

        I heard on the radio the other day on the Clark Howard show that Dish is still charging their customers full price for the News Corp channels that people paid for ( I guess you have to get a premium package or something to get them) even though they aren't receiving them

        It is early in the dispute. With the Fisher Comm. dispute, Dish customers were given $1/month off their bill for that lost channel. $1 doesn't seems like much, but the locals run $5/month for about 8-12 chans, so it was appropriate. Dish hasn't had time to make that kind of decision, but I think they will if this drags on longer. But you will probably need to call in and ask for it.

    • by nametaken (610866) * on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:21PM (#33925200)

      ...and switch to a different provider. That is exactly the wrong thing to do. Dish Net/Cablevision are fighting to keep our rates down, but they can't do it if everybody jumps ship.

      No doubt most of the people here understand what you're saying and agree entirely. Unfortunately, I'd guess News Corp knows that any strategy that depends on regular people being informed or showing some kind of conviction is a lost cause. That sucks. :(

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xda (1171531)
      I've worked for some cable companies and had this explained to me a few times, so I know it to be true. Cable companies even ask their employees to write letters to content providers asking them not to hike their fees.

      I think cable companies have it worse than Dish because they have to pay fees on "homes past", meaning they are paying a fee for every home that could potentially subscribe to the content. I've been told by multiple people "half your cable bill is ESPN, whether you wanted it or not".

      Cab
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by socsoc (1116769)
      Your view is from the industry standpoint. As Joe User, both Dish and News Corp are losers and I am the third loser in this pissing match that I wanted no part of. I've now shifted my viewing patterns away from their shows with commercials and harbor animosity towards my provider. Now News Corp is warning that I may lose additional FOX related stations at the end of the month. Super! (yes I know about OTA, no I don't really give enough of a damn to buy an antenna for a local FOX affiliate)
  • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amaiman (103647) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @01:50PM (#33924996) Homepage
    My solution:

    1) Cancel my Cablevision TV service (their rates are way too high anyway). I've been thinking about it for a while, and I think this latest dispute is the last straw.
    2) Connect antenna to TV.
    3) Watch FOX.
    4) No profit for either of them.

    I can buy all of the shows that I want to watch from iTunes or Amazon and still come out way cheaper than my current cable TV bill. And that's ignoring the "torrent" option that many people will choice to use instead...
    • Hopefully you can get DTV reception. For the most part, it sucks without an attic or rooftop antenna. One perk, better quality, it isn't re-compressed like the CATV feeds.
      • by amaiman (103647)
        Yeah, that's the main reason why I didn't ditch cable a long time ago (that and a little bit of laziness, the other alternatives are far less convenient than just turning on my DVR and watching TV). I can't get all of the over-the-air channels with an antenna where I live. I do get Fox in HD over-the-air, though.

        I'll most likely be doing a combination of either Linux or Windows 7 Media Center recording the over-the-air channels that I can receive with my antenna and getting the rest from Hulu (with pro
  • Predicted Path (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:05PM (#33925092) Homepage

    This is what I have believed is the path this matter will take, and I (and probably many others) have been arguing exactly this. The following is the rational path:

    Big ISP threatens big content. Big content counter-threatens big ISP. Big ISP and big content reach an agreement to shut out small competition. General public does not know about or care about small competition. Small competition dies, oligarchs win.

    Oligarchy or net neutrality. Those are the only two outcomes. Net neutrality depends on an altruistic and long-term focused government. While it has happened before (telcos went through exactly this way back in the day, resulted in common carrier), I do not believe our current government or lackluster activism are capable of making it happen again. In short; oligarchy will win.

    I've been trying to think of solutions, not much so far, a few thoughts:

    1. Diaspora (or similar) farms that are big enough to buy a seat at the table.
    2. Oligarchs sufficiently overstep to incite popular revolution. (unlikely, they're not that stupid -- they know how bread and circuses works -- it is a cookbook to them)
    3. Diaspora (or similar) running over surreptitious channels.
    4. Indie mesh networks similar to ham operations.
    5. Geek revolt (ie: we realize we have all the power here, decide that our paychecks are not worth the price, and shut down the oligarchs before they gain unstoppable power)

    None of these seem particularly likely to succeed, to me. One thing seems obvious: The further we get down the road, the more extreme the solution will have to be. Well, make that two things: The short term gains to the oligarchs will be enormously outweighed by the friction, and hence loss, to our GDP growth rate -- punishing us all, including them, in the long run.

    • I'm not against net neutrality, but at the same time, in the end, when companies don't do the right thing for their customers, they do create an opportunity for someone else to start competition - basically, any company which enacts policies and procedures which alienate their customer base, they create a big opening in the market for a new competitor to step in and take business away from them. No monopoly or oligarchy can last forever with unhappy customers.

      In the case of Hulu, nobody has to watch Hulu. I

  • by mbone (558574) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @02:06PM (#33925096)

    This has been the fault line in the Hulu business model since Day 1 - there is no way Hulu wanted to do this (block Internet users based on who they are affiliated with?), but they are a creature of their owners, who basically don't want Internet TV to succeed. It is a little surprising to see Rupert Murdoch do this so nakedly over such a comparatively trivial dispute.

    If you think you are going to "Cut the Cord" with Hulu, think again.

  • who happens to use Cablevision as an ISP you get screwed. As News Corp. has been pushing DirecTV as an alternative to Cablevision for Fox programming, that's probably not a can of worms they really wanted to open. Most of the DirecTV customers I know in the northern NJ area are using Cablevision as an ISP.

    The really lame part of this is how much of an increase News Corp is asking for - they currently get $22 per subscriber per year, they're looking for $44. The FCC really, really should be able to take this

  • ISP's Take Note (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @09:49PM (#33928222) Homepage
    ISP's in favor of preferential access all seem to think they'll be able to charge providers big fees to allow their content to flow to the ISP's customers. For reasons this story should make clear, they're far more likely to end up making payments TO the content providers. There's a reason that every other medium in existance works that way.

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