Recently I wrote an article about Google's recent hiring of Kevin Rose and expansion of their premium content channels on YouTube. In that piece I commented on the concern of independent content providers that Google may be making a push to become the dominant player on the Internet. In essence a content gatekeeper minimizing all other outlets.
While questions remain as to whether it's proper or even an anti-trust issue for Google to operate in both the content and search spaces it's important to keep things in perspective.
Let's face it, what lands in Google's premium channels will still have the restrictions of the medium to contend with not to mention varying degrees of production quality. Couple that with the basic fact that the majority of popular video content on YouTube is for all intents and purposes, garbage.
I watched the IAWTV(Intl. Academy of Web TV) awards a few months back. Aside from the one news related program nominated that I was interested in, the rest of the nominees never rose above the quality of fan films. Much of it reminded me of those awful videos made in high school multimedia classes. The common thread among many of the nominees was YouTube, with the notable exception of the news program that I was interested in.
When you've got content like this...
I wouldn't worry too much about Google crushing the Free Internet.
I'd be far more concerned about providing good programming than a giant monolith betting on pet videos and B list talent to corner the content market. The Internet is a fickle beast and those who seek to control its destiny soon find themselves on the sidelines. That an Internet company like Google would think otherwise seems unlikely.
The medium lends itself to specialized content for very distinct audiences that can number in the thousands if not millions. Google sees that as a potential cash cow but that's a very traditional view of media. Internet consumers tend to distrust singular sources for their information and always prefer an a la' carte experience to the combo deal. Unlike television, your audience isn't captive and always finds a way to bypass you if you don't meet their needs.
I'd cite the recent examples of Myspace and RIM for those who thought otherwise. If Google does become the next Internet NBC it's a safe bet that other alternatives will surface shortly thereafter and relegate Google to the ranks of Alta Vista.