Many years ago, I rented an apartment in a college town here in Indiana. We have a lot of them, medium-large towns, back then with plenty of industry in addition to the school. The 19th Century natural gas boom had been good to Indiana even outside the Trenton Gas Field, and when it faded out (years too soon, due to wasteful exploitation), a lot of large Victorian-style homes ended up subdivided into inexpensive apartments.
Old houses, cheap-to-shoddy apartment conversion, inhabited by college students and the lowest-paid factory workers: they were generally rife with cockroaches. My apartment was, so much so that I kept underclothing in the refrigerator.* I also set out sticky-trap "Roach Motels" in a vain attempt to control their numbers.
That kind of bug-trap has an interesting end-state with roaches: by the time they are full, it's standing-room-only for the head and front legs of many dead roaches, with one or two fat, intact living ones remaining: stuck in place, they have eaten one another up.
With that example in mind, let's talk about phone companies; the phone company, in fact. Mr. Bell's big company, though he was out well before they became American Telephone and Telegraph. The present company of the same initials is not a direct successor: Congress took aim at the telephone monopoly many times and broke it up in 1982, resulting in a passel of regional "Baby Bell" companies. One of them, a bit fatter and more ambitious, began to gobble up the others and by 2005, ate up what was left of the original AT&T. The last living roach in the Roach Motel, they looked around for new worlds to conquer and got themselves into the cable TV and satellite TV businesses, an "MVPD," a conduit between organizations that produce content and people who consume it. Then they bought up a few of the content producers, too.
It's a sticky line of work, lawyer-heavy, involving large sums of money and a lot of contracts between many different parties. (I have to tread carefully here: yes, it's that sticky.) Starting up a new (non-over-the-air) channel is a fraught time, and when they sit down with the various legal teams from the various MVPDs, talks may go in interesting directions. And because these are sensitive negotiations, don't go looking for any recordings; Bell left the phone company in part because he was spending far too much time in court and far too little in the lab. Contract talks generally share only a final agreement in public; anything else that comes out of the process is hearsay and usually means nothing in court.
So when a new, right-leaning cable news channel was formed and went to get itself on various MVPDs, things may have become interesting. The newswire Reuters has done a lot of digging, and is sharing what they found. What it may mean is open to interpretation, and AT&T is pushing back, so make up your own mind -- but remember that no matter who you root for in the Punch and Judy show, the puppeteer benefits.
Or, in this case, the MVPD. And the corporation that owns it. (Which, at least partially, AT&T no longer does.)
The last roach in the trap gets pretty fat, and sometimes they get their feet unstuck. Where do they go from there?
* When I moved out after a couple of years, everything except for me and the cat received a thorough spray-down with roach killer and sat outside for 24 hours. I pulled the drawers from desks and dressers and hosed it all down with bug-killer. All clothing, bedding and towels moved to the new place by way of the laundromat. It worked, too.
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