By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal
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The Big Lock-In (Medium)
Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford explains how Comcast is trying to dominate online video to the point where consumers wouldn't even see that other alternatives exist.
As TV viewing shifts from traditional TV sets to mobile devices and tablets, Comcast’s cloud-based Xfinity platform will be right there. Eventually, we’ll all have box-free set-top boxes: the network itself will include Xfinity’s navigation menus, instruct any device in the home how to download DVR recordings and stream live TV, and watch carefully for video viewing patterns — so as to better place ads.
To get there, Comcast is licensing Xfinity for free to other cable distributors, set-top box makers, and computer-chip manufacturers, ensuring that its platform is widely adopted. Then, when it’s everywhere, it will be controlled remotely by its masters. Two years ago, Matt Zelesko, Senior Vice President at Time Warner Cable, said this free licensing would “drive collaboration across the [cable] industry.”
The payoff for Comcast and its collaborators? They’ll be able to ensure that their own video on demand services are easy to find but users can’t search simultaneously across Vudu, Netflix, or YouTube. They’ll control video navigation and, thus, the user experience — and the profits that flow from it. Program guides, DVR recordings, and “pretty much everything but the volume control” on Xfinity-obedient devices will be governed from the cloud, according to Rob Rockell, Vice President of Engineering for Comcast. This is a very big deal.
Follow below the fold for more.
Aid to Needy Often Excludes the Poorest in America (NYT)
Patricia Cohen says that in recent decades, assistance to the poorest – generally, those who are not working – has decreased, while government aid for those near the poverty line has increased.
Rep. Paul Ryan’s Double Standard: Only the Working Poor Must Comply With the Tax Code (WaPo)
Jared Bernstein calls out Rep. Ryan for allowing business tax breaks without compensating for the cost or strengthening enforcement, while any break for poor families must be offset elsewhere.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner: Organized Labor's Public Enemy No 1? (The Guardian)
The ferocity of Governor Rauner's attacks on labor, particularly public-sector unions, has surprised many, writes Steven Greenhouse, including labor leaders who need to negotiate new contracts.
Is Welfare Reform Causing Earlier Deaths? (The Nation)
Michelle Chen looks at a new study that shows how the shift from open-ended aid to our current welfare system, tied to employment, shortened lives and harmed children's cognitive growth.
American Companies Are Getting Older, Not Better (AJAM)
Aging businesses are creating fewer jobs than new companies, writes David Cay Johnston, and they also pay workers less and push for policies that slow economic growth as a whole.