The fact that the Net Neutrality debate has come back up should come as a surprise to no one that follows technology. The system, as it where, has a fine, and mature role model to follow in cable/satellite television. Users pay for the signal to enter their homes, but on the operator side, the cable/sat company gets paid by networks to enter your home.
Oddly, not many people seem to know this, but the cable/sat operator’s share of what they get from networks varies wildly, from new networks paying up to (last time we checked) ten dollars per household to be carried, to big players like ESPN, being paid somewhere around 20 dollars to be carried. For the big players, the cuts that cable/sat operators get is smaller than than for most channels, but the operators are paid nonetheless.
Cable/sat operators have often very contentious disputes with the big player networks. Big players want more of your monthly bill, and know that their absence – if it came to that – could have consumers looking for other alternatives to find their signals. This holds true especially in sports, with Lakers and Knicks fans in LA and NYC having to suffer, if you can call it that, missed games while the parents fight.
Be interesting to see how this model plays out with the new political realm, and whether history will repeat itself exactly, or will run a different course.