Let's face it, no one wants peace. As much as we talk about peace and love, what we really want is a good bust-up. Fights are entertaining; that's why Floyd Mayweather and Anthony Joshua are millionaires.
Obviously we don't want to be involved in the fight ourselves; that's dangerous. We could get hurt. But watching other people beat the crap out of each other -- that's entertainment.
And so, as we stand on the cusp of a new year, it's only right that we look at the major issues that will cause heated debate, furious rants and result in extended legal battles in 2018.
Barreling forward well ahead of any other rage-inducing issue is the repeal of net neutrality in the US by Ajit Pai's FCC. Responses alternate between "an outrageous attack on consumer freedom" to "a much-needed rationalization of law to facilitate investment and innovation."
Nothing drives people as crazy as when you try and mess with their Internet. Or their guns. (See FCC Ends Net Neutrality and Net Neutrality Heads to Court & Congress.)
There is so much vitriol being slung around already on this (for example here. And here. And also here. And here.) I'm going to generously step back, waive any further expression of thought on this, and invite readers to take advantage of the comments section.
Rejected by the Department of Justice (DoJ) because it refused to divest DirecTV or Turner Broadcasting, AT&T's $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner is now on hold while it battles the DoJ in court. Given rival operator Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal only a few years ago was approved, AT&T feels it has been dealt with unfairly. And Disney's mega-merger with Fox, if approved, will further bolster AT&T's argument. (See DoJ Sues to Block AT&T/Time Warner.)
Rumors that the DoJ's decision was influenced by a president unhappy with how Time Warner's CNN news network covers him are unconfirmed, but the truly great thing about this president from an editorial point of view is that most people will believe anything about him.
Heavy Reading Managing Director Dennis Mendyk anticipates AT&T will win partly because "
there's not significant difference between this deal and the Comcast/NBC merger," but also because "
AT&T has better lawyers than the DoJ under the current administration." (See Cloudy With a Chance of Automation: Telecom in 2018.)
Hopefully victory will come slowly, with lots of claims, insults and counter claims for us to write about before it's done.
While US is steaming about mergers and net neutrality, the UK is worried about
In a wonderful expression of democracy, approximately half of Brits love the idea of leaving Europe, and about the same hate it. This has resulted in notoriously poor British dentistry being further challenged by the widespread gnashing of molars due to the country's imminent departure from Europe.
But it also has an impact on the country's TV industry. According to a report from Expert Media Partners, a broadcast media consultancy, the UK is a substantial "exporter" of television channels. It has a large domestic broadcasting market, a stable regulatory regime, access to highly skilled workers and availability of excellent post-production and transmission facilities, all of which attract television channels to base operations there. However, the EU's Country of Origin (COO) principle -- part of the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) -- is linked to a common area for broadcasters. Once the UK leaves this regime, the consultancy anticipates that channels will leave as well.
Similarly, a study from the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) found that 75% of the 250 businesses surveyed employed EU nationals, with two-thirds saying they couldn't fill those positions locally. The report also said that the visual-effects sector would be particularly hard hit, given that a third of workers there are EU nationals today.
Brexiteers, meanwhile, are relying on the UK's ever-reliable consumption of Italian bubbly to ward off all such economic dangers.
Sadly, this magnificent drama has not received the attention it deserves because the impact is largely limited to the Italian market. But fans of dramas that have rich Mediterraneans stabbing each other in the back will enjoy it. The two protagonists are currently in court over Vivendi's last-minute decision to pull out of a deal to acquire Mediaset's Premium pay-TV business for 800 million ($857 million) last year.
But the story began in April 2016, when the two companies came together to launch a European Netflix. The idea was to combine their resources to take on the OTT leader, with Vivendi buying Mediaset Premium, the pay-TV arm of the Italian broadcaster. But at the last minute Vivendi pulled out, saying Mediaset's projections were "overly-optimistic." (See Telecom Italia Drama: What Is Vivendi Up To? and Vivendi-Mediaset: Bad Romance Gets Worse.)
Mediaset's shares dropped as a result, and to add insult to injury, Vivendi then swooped in and increased its shareholding to nearly 30%. The two companies are now battling it out in court, but there is a fresh complication. Vivendi also owns 24% of Italian incumbent Telecom Italia, and Italian regulator Agcom has said that it must divest shares in one of the two.
Disappointingly the two are reportedly in talks to work out a deal, but it would be nothing short of tragic if they were to bury the hatchet and deprive us of spellbinding drama and suspense in the coming year.
Entertaining as these might be, there must be other battles brewing quietly that I have missed. Feel free to add more topics that will inspire enraged rants in the coming year in the comments section. We look forward to evaluating your contributions and following more corporate bloodletting in 2018.
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation