Today during the keynote for the Congress of the Brazilian Association of Cable Television (yep, it’s a real thing), Paulo Bernardo, Minister of Communication said that he defends that services such as Netflix and the iTunes Store start being subject to the same tributes as Cable operators (which add up to 20%) in order to promote a fair competition between the two.
I don’t even know where to begin commenting on this absurd idea. Forget for a second (as very well put by Renato Pessanha – sorry, portuguese only) that these tributes are already charged with the internet bill and that in order to actually manage to have an internet connection in Brazil it’s very likely that operators will force you get cable TV as well. The very idea that charging taxes would be the only solution to provide a ‘fair competition’ between the cable tv business and on-demand video streaming is beyond surreal.
This ‘solution’ proposed by Paulo Bernardo shows that people who hold any sort of power in this country have absolutely no clue of how things work anymore. It’s sort of when you go to a store to get a new device and right from the start you notice that you actually now way more about the subject than the store seller. Only since we’re dealing with politicians, the result is always related to picking our pockets.
The worst part is that there is only one solution to this problem. And it’s not immediate at all. It was explained by Steve Jobs back in 2003, during the D1 for AllThingsD when he mentioned the difficulties Apple had to face when they introduced the first computers:
“When I started in this business one of the biggest challenges was people couldn’t type. And one day we realized that death would eventually take care of this. And so people know how to type now.”
When I come across a piece of news like this one, or that the National Library Association wants digital books to become available with a 120-day delay to favor bookstores (among other absurdities), I have the utmost certainty that the world is moving way, way, way faster than what these people (unfortunately in positions of power) have the capacity to acknowledge and follow.
Instead of trying to observe, understand and learn about the new ways of consuming and distributing contents, their first (second, third) instinct is to try to make them fit into their already established rules to keep serving particular interests of each individual segment.
And we’re out of luck, because there is nothing we can do other than wait for these people to go away and hope that their chairs get occupied by people with a fresher mindset. Retirement and death are our allies here. Meanwhile, we will need to have lots of patience to endure the ignorance of those who can’t keep up with the world, but just won’t admit it.