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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

June 8, 2006 / Toby Dayton

Cox Pulls Off The Gloves In Battle With Craigslist

In an article on SiliconValleyWatcher.com, Tom Foremski writes that Cox Enterprises, which owns 17 daily and 25 weekly newspapers around the country that depend heavily on classified ad revenue, might be restricting access to Craigslist through its Cox Media cable internet service. In discussions between the two companies, Cox claims the problem began in February as the result of security software provided by Authentium but as Tom points out in his article, 3 months is a long time to fix a security bug. The situation is sure to receive a lot of attention as the debate around Net Neutrality heats up.

While the access problems may or may not be legitimate, it would not be surprising at all to imagine that the issue is a purposeful attempt by Cox to hurt Craigslist. Such is life in the brutally competitive classified advertising space, and we ourselves at JobDig have seen first-hand the lengths to which competitors will go to compete both fairly and unfairly. In some of our markets, the daily newspaper monopolist has threatened establishments that make our freely distributed paper available to their customers. The daily papers have also simply taken our racks out of some locations and thrown them in the dumpster out back. In other cases, they have taken our news racks without our permission, installed one of their news racks, and then demanded that we pay a monthly ‘pocket fee’ in order to distribute JobDig in that location. More often than not, this is done without the location owner’s permission or even knowledge. In Sioux Falls, the actions of the daily paper, The Argus Leader, were so egregious that a local TV station ran a two-night investigative report on the situation. And while the offenses may not be exactly the same, the distribution of our free weekly jobs newspaper is just as vital for JobDig as an ISP is for Craigslist.

What happens to JobDig in competing against the daily newspapers, and what might be happening to Craigslist, takes place in every industry because there are always players who lack the integrity to compete in a fair manner. When the stakes are high enough in any game, some players will do anything to win, no matter how unscrupulous their actions might be. The trick is to win the game anyway.

[tags]Cox Enterprises, Cox Media, Craigslist, Cable TV, The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, Daily Newspapers, Death of Newspapers, Newspapers Have No Idea How To Compete, Business Integrity, Ethics in Business, Business Ethics, Net Neutrality, Authentium[/tags]