Cable Lobbying and the “All Things Orange” Rule.

Imagine for a moment my local school board is considering a measure to fight childhood obesity by banning “unhealthy” food and requiring that school vending machines only provide “healthy snacks.” Now suppose I am a vendor of things such as nacho flavor chips, cheese doodle equivalents, and other foods of a similar nature. Expecting that such a rule would make it more difficult for me to sell my products, I raise my hand at the school board meeting and engage in the following line of argument.

“Are oranges healthy food?”

“Yes,” the relevant official replies.

“Are carrots healthy food?”


“So all things orange, like carrots and oranges, are healthy foods. Good.” Whereupon I sit down.

Subsequently, I try to sell my nacho chips and cheese doodle equivalents to schools. When informed they are not “healthy snacks,” I become quite upset. I invoke the “Rule of Orange Things” that declares that we need to treat all orange things fairly by treating them the same, so we either have to let me sell nacho chips or ban people bringing oranges and carrots. I will also complain that there is no way I could possibly have known that nachos and cheese doodles might not be “healthy food,” since they have an FDA mandated nutrition label (so they must have nutrition) and who the heck knows what “healthy food” means anyway, since we can see that many nutritionists are now down on juice and even on certain fruits or other foods long considered healthy alternatives to cookies and sugar sodas.

In such a situation, most of us would have no problem saying that nacho chips and cheese doodle equivalents are not “healthy food” despite being orange — because what makes oranges and carrots “healthy food” has nothing to do with their color. Most of us would also agree that while their may be some marginal cases around things like apple juice v. water v. soda, there is no definition of “healthy snacks” in use outside the junk food biz that would include nacho chips and cheese doodles — mandatory “nutrition label” notwithstanding.

Which brings us to the National Cable Telecommunications Association (NCTA) filing last Thursday just at the close of the bell in the Comcast/BitTorrent complaint docket (because the FCC issued a public notice for the meeting at which it will decide the complaint, the docket is now closed).

A bit more below . . .

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