TCS Daily

Disney vs. The Internet

By TCS Daily - May 23, 2000 12:00 AM

Recently we criticized Disney for getting political help from Washington in its business dispute with Time Warner.

Now, Disney is waging a nationwide campaign to regulate high-speed Internet access -- a misguided attempt to help itself by hobbling other media firms. As TechCentralStation host Jim Glassman makes the rounds in California this week, our sources confirm what the Wall Street Journal's Kathy Chen reported last week: Disney is aggressively lobbying in California cities to attach conditions to the transfer of cable licenses from Time Warner to America Online.

Specifically, the Mouse House is demanding "open access," in other words AOL would be forced to give Disney and other companies access to its new cable lines at government-mandated prices and terms.

Disney certainly doesn't need help from the government to compete in the media business, and if you're looking for worthy charities to support, this $83 billion company probably doesn't qualify. But the real issue isn't Disney's size and market power. The Internet has thrived in large part because it has remained free of regulation. Bringing next generation networks back into the dark ages of 1930s-style regulation would be bad for all consumers and media companies, including Disney. So instead of fearing the changing nature of media distribution, Disney should embrace it. Fresh off its weekend success with "Dinosaur," Disney should realize that consumers always reward the creators of great entertainment, no matter how it's distributed.

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