MTV Decides to Play Catchup With a Pro

And plants its stake in the ground in the DRM wars by backing Media Player: MTV to Sell Online but Shuns the IPod [pdf]

Shunning leader Apple Computer Inc. in the crowded online music market, MTV Networks Inc. instead chose a partner that knows a thing or two about playing catch-up: Microsoft Corp.

The cable music channel said Tuesday that it planned to launch its long-anticipated Internet service — called URGE — next year with the help of the world’s biggest software maker.

[…] MTV Networks Music Group President Van Toffler said the company, a unit of Viacom International Inc., allied itself with Microsoft because it wanted to exploit the flexibility and ubiquity of Microsoft’s Media Player software, which comes preinstalled in the Windows operating system.

“[Apple Chief Executive] Steve Jobs has a point of view,” Toffler said. “ITunes is about a digital storefront for a la carte downloads. Our goal is to create a utopian music community that keeps subscribers coming back.”

Speaking of Balkanization….

Telecoms want their products to travel on a faster Internet [pdf]

AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. are lobbying Capitol Hill for the right to create a two-tiered Internet, where the telecom carriers’ own Internet services would be transmitted faster and more efficiently than those of their competitors.

The proposal is certain to provoke a major fight with Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Time Warner Inc., and Microsoft Corp., the powerful owners of popular Internet sites. The companies fear such a move would give telecommunications companies too much control over a fast-growing part of the Internet.

The battle is largely over video services. Several major telecom companies are working on ways to deliver broadcast-quality television over the Internet. Currently, online video can be slow to download and choppy to watch, even with higher-speed Internet services.

The proposal supported by AT&T and BellSouth would allow telecommunications carriers to offer their own advanced Internet video services to their customers, while rival firms’ online video offerings would be transmitted at lower speed and with poorer image quality.

[…] A change along these lines would be different from the way the Internet has operated. ”The Internet model has been that carriers cannot interfere with the choices that consumers make,” said Alan Davidson, Google’s Washington policy counsel.