The first observation I would like to make is Mark Cuban wore a suit. Once again, Mark Cuban wore a suit. On that note, at a break in the action, I mentioned to him that I lost a bet due to his attire choice. He laughed and mentioned that he was glad it fit after all these years. Mr. Cuban not only looked the part — his testimony was sharp as well.
With regard to the hearing, Chairman Markey got it started by creating video himself. As he presided over the hearing, he whipped out a camcorder and starting filming the audience. Accordingly, he plans to post the video on YouTube. Opening statements were interesting and enjoyable. Chairman Markey mentioned that he “felt like David Stern” when asking Mr. Cuban to wrap up his statement. Another good moment came when Phil Rosenthal (former creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond”) spoke about his displeasure with product integration in his business. He used the opportunity to show a clip from 7th Heaven and how often Oreo cookies were mentioned. He closed his testimony with strong acting and a little product integration himself stating: “would we have wanted our memories of Casablanca to be Bogart saying to Ingrid Bergman as they say goodbye, You’re part of his life, the thing that keeps him going. Now get on that plane and enjoy United’s non-stop, three class service to Paris with seats that recline to a full 180 degrees.” The audience erupted with laughter and applause.
As expected, Network Neutrality reared its head at the hearing. However, Mark Cuban addressed the topic and nailed it like a Dirk Nowitzki three-pointer. He told lawmakers that bandwidth capacity problems are on the horizon. He also noted that network neutrality “goes away completely if bandwidth constraints go away.” Basically, instead of focusing on who gets it (the internet) – he stressed the need to focus on how we get bandwidth to the next level (1 GB). Inciting fiber to the home is critical. On the other hand, Chad Hurley (YouTube) stated that he did not see these problems at this time. Congresswoman Eshoo (D-CA) sees “gatekeepers and chokepoints” as the key concern in this debate. Congresswoman Eshoo also spoke about possibly taking a look again at “spectrum caps” at a spectrum hearing a few weeks ago. Conspiracy not capacity seems to be her focus.
I have been to many Congressional hearings over the years. This was one of the best I have attended. Entrepreneurs, innovators, and tech gurus providing insight to the future of video. Kudos to the Committee for making it happen. I hope to see a sequel again soon.
Dish Disclosure – Our firm represents Comcast on the issue of Network Neutrality.