Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Fixing the Unfixable

It was a 392-page ruling handed down by a court, that shakes the foundations of a government, it's culture, it's society, it's politics, and it's future.  In simple terms, from this day forward, you just can't bet on anything and be sure of much.

So it begins in Argentina.

The government sat down a couple of years ago and passed some legislation.  Basically, they decided that one particular company now owned most of the media within Argentina.....and this was triggering a shift in politics.  The company's theme?  More or less....right-wing.  So the legislation....could be considered pro-liberal.  I know some hate for these terms to be thrown around, but it is that simple.

So here are the new rules in Argentina.

First, no TV network can have more than thirty-five percent of the viewers.  No one is exactly sure on how you'd stop the the nation's viewers from watching.....but some political folks thought you could legislate this.

Second, no company can own more than twenty-four licenses across the country.  So your company could buy sixteen TV licenses and eight radio licenses, and then max out.

Third, to make this license business just a bit more complicated.....you as a company can only own one TV license (antenna or cable) in one city, and one radio license (same deal).

Fourth, future licenses can only be extended after a complete review of the ties that the company has.  You can sense that weeks, months and years could be woven into this review process.

Fifth, as the 'dump-your-ownership' game starts up....the court merely says that fair compensation must be extended to the lost license players by the government.  No one in Argentina is sure about how much this will cost....how they will pay....and who the final judge is on fair compensation.

Sixth, as the dumped license game starts up.....the judges didn't really say who would appear to buy or own the new licenses.  One can assume that a number of wealthy families might suddenly apply, but then find the legal review process taking months to occur, and weeding out their desire to own such a TV license.  Some community applying for it's own license, but with no real cash?  Yes, it'd be entirely possible for someone to rig up such an application.

Seventh, you can own one cable TV channel in a town, or own one antenna-broadcast network in town.....but you can't own one of each in the town.

All of this would somehow bring fairness and balance to a vast media parking lot.  Consider the fact that roughly two thousand licenses exist in Argentina through both TV and radio.  AM licenses barely hit 150 stations, and FM licenses currently run around 1,100 stations.  The rest?  TV licenses or cable TV type situations.

All of this manipulation is a problem that will require a full-time audit crowd and hustle up hundreds of lawyers to have various cases in court for years to come.

What it fixes?  Well.....if you wanted to manipulate a vast voting block....you'd work up the media to play your game.  You'd say that this would all bring fairness and non-manipulation into the system.

Here's the aftermath.  As companies divest themselves of stations, they begin to fall to lesser individuals or companies.....with limited capital.  Because you can't funnel profits from dozens of stations into buying programming or making independent productions....you resort back to movies from the 1970s, and gameshows.  Everyone starts to complain three years down the line about the quality of radio and TV programming.  Running Baywatch for three hours of the day....just isn't a practical thing.

But there's this escape clause in this mess.  The Argentine government can only manage cable and antenna-type operations.  They can't really manage satellite operations.  So what you should expect over the next five years....a couple of satellite networks that pop up.....all owned by the same company.  Satellite radio?  Comes to you via the same company.  They will escape this mess and the government will compensate everyone enough for lost licenses....that satellite makes perfect sense.

In a decade, almost everyone in Argentina will be getting their TV and radio via satellite, and through one or two companies.  It's that simple.  As hard as the dimwits worked to dissolve influence in politics....they merely created a new mechanism....that they can't control at all.


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