Last Monday, I switched to AT&T U-verse. This Monday, I am switching back to my former cable/internet provider. I urge all providers of intellectual content (writers, actors, directors, artists, singers) to do the same.
When my “must-have” TV shows disappeared from the cable line-up, and the AT&T customer service rep hung up on me after another rep and I had held onto the line twenty-five minutes to speak with him, I delved into the matter a little further.
This is what I discovered. Scripps-Howard Network, who provides programming such as HGTV and the Food Network, could not reach a fair settlement with AT&T. AT&T claims in their press releases that the issue is not over money, and not over distribution on cable TV, but the issue is over free distribution of the cable shows over mobile devices and computers!
In other words, AT&T does not want to compensate the providers of intellectual property–that’s you and me, all you writers, artists, actors, singers, and directors–for delivering our content to more users over vastly different devices. In the past, writers sold their content (via a publisher and book distributer) in books. More recently, writers are also compensated when additional users view content via audiobooks or electronic downloads. What AT&T wants to do is pay one fee, the SAME FEE it is has been paying for cable TV distribution, for the intellectual content provided by Scripps-Howard, and then distribute those shows to tens of thousands of additional users via the users’ laptops and mobile devices.
If you enjoy the content of the programming on HGTV and the Food Network and DIY, then vote to fairly compensate the content providers. If you enjoy a certain novelist, then be willing to compensate that novelist whether your choice of media is a hardback, paperback, audiobook, or electronic download. If you enjoy a certain singer, be willing to compensate that artist whether your choice of media is a MP3 download or a ticket to a live concert. Just because certain users choose different media to access content, does not mean that any of that content should be without compensation to the creator.
Don’t be a pawn in AT&T’s scam to distribute intellectual property over additional media without compensating the artists.