Evil Empire to Roll Out ISP?; Stock Market Sponsors Rumsfeld Show

We’ve been keeping tabs on a little-publicized project that Clear Channel has been testing in Cincinnati: offering internet access via digital television. The project, first dubbed the “Delta V Internet Accelerator,” offered 256kbps download speeds to residential subscribers in the Cincinnati area by sending data to subscribers’ computers via a sideband on WKRC‘s new DTV signal.
Clear Channel owns or controls nearly 40 television stations around the country, and it appears that the company is preparing to launch its ISP service nationwide. Delta V has been re-branded as WebHopper, its website has been redesigned, and a “Business”-level 768kbps service class has been added.
Residential service costs $40 per month, which covers access for one computer (each additional one is $10 extra); business access is $80/month (with the $10/additional computer fee).
If Clear Channel can get a few thousand subscribers in each market to pay monthly for internet access via DTV signal, the company will enter an entirely new arena of telecommunications, competing with the likes of phone companies instead of other media outlets. It’s not exactly working to provide “better television,” but it’s one hell of a lot of money to be made off the public airwaves.
The digital radio standard now rolling out nationwide is well-suited to provide such an ISP service; it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes Clear Channel to port WebHopper technology to work on its 1,200+ radio stations.
Witness the dawn of a new era in telecommunications – what that buzzword “convergence” really means.
In completely unrelated (but similarly ironic) news, U.S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appeared on a special broadcast earlier this month simulcast on 25 commercial stations nationwide, where he took calls from a well-screened public.
The kicker: the show was exclusively sponsored by the New York Stock Exchange. If anybody happened to tape it, I’d love a copy.