Cable tee vee is just begging for more regulation

Time Warner and Viacom are behaving badly:

Viacom Inc. (VIA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) appear unlikely to reach an agreement on carriage fees before the New Year, according to a source familiar with the talks, meaning popular networks Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon may be pulled from the cable company’s system, which include large parts of New York City and Los Angeles.

And now the Insight Bowl is on the lame-ass NFL channel, which gives customers a handful of crappy NFL games (and now a bowl game!) for an extra $380 or something.

As it is, Beck plans to watch the game from his home with family members. For other KU fans and alumni eager to watch their college football team trounce (they hope) Minnesota, they’ll have to settle for watching it at a subscribing friend or family member’s home, at a sports bar that carries the network, or they can just pony up and purchase the Cox sports tier before the game begins.

And of course there is Comcast and the Portland Trailblazers. This is from Dec. 11 but I saw a whiny Comcast ad the other day, so I suppose they are still being wieners about their own lame-ass sports channel.

Since there was quite a bit of talk in the Blazers Forum the other day about Comcast Sports Net and the satellite companies striking a deal, I fired off an email to CSN to find out whether or not this was true. Tim Fitzpatrick of CSN says that while there is nothing new to report, negotiations continue.

We used to have a concept in this country called “anti-trust laws.” Guess not so much any more. Why cable companies should be allowed to use their market position to threaten each other while punishing consumers is beyond me. Right now all the Viacom channels are running crawls about the dire threat posed by Time Warner, as if it’s some kind of 9-11 of the airwaves. It’s absurd.

I never have understood why there is an artificial distinction made between over the air broadcasters, who are considered to be using the public airwaves, versus satellite and cable providers, who are also granted the use of public resources in the form of other radio frequencies and rights of way.

The cable tee-vee industry far too often winds up resembling those old photos of New York City when a hundred phone companies all tried to string their own lines. It’s a basic regulatory function of government to bring and maintain order in markets where monopolies and oligopolies tend to exist.


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    Don’t forget satellite TV too. I have Dish Network and haven’t been able to get local KOMO and ABC programing due to a squabble that they and Fisher Communications are having over the million of dollars they bleed from us so we can at least get a clear picture out here on Vashon Island.

    If you watch Dish network honchos go on about this on the channel that used to be where KOMO was they go on about trying to keep prices low for customers while KOMO says it’s not getting fair compensation. I thought the public owned the airwaves. I guess I can’t watch the granddaddy of them all Rose bowl now because of dumb ass greedy broadcast companies. I bitched and they offered to give me a buck off my monthly bill. A buck off what a joke. Oh. they also said I could have the hallmark channel for free. I’m paying these jokers $75 dollars a month for Christ sake. Finally they agreed to give me $5 off a month for 3 months. I think they broke their agreement with me to provide local programming and that my 2 year agreement with them is now null and void. Anyone want to start a class action suit?

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    mark spews:

    I wish I could go right down a list and pick
    exactly the channels I want. Then if I saw
    a program on a channel I’d like to watch maybe I could go online and buy that channel for a month for a couple of bucks and then it automatically cancels itself. Just wishing.

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    Rick D. spews:

    Want some cheese to go with that whine? Jon wants more government regulation on a private entity because he isn’t getting the freakin’ channels and programming he wants broadcasted…quick, someone call a Waaaaaaahmbulance.

    It’d truly be sad if it wasn’t so pathetic.

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    ArtFart spews:

    I really don’t understand why the regulation of satellite TV (and satellite radio, if anyone cares anymore) isn’t handled the same way as conventional over-the-air radio/TV broadcasting. Well, I can actually think of a couple of possibilities:

    (1.) Terrestrial radio/TV broadcasting operates under a set of rules that were put in place a long, long time ago, when the general thinking was that the radio spectrum was a limited resource and as such should be allocated in and regulated to serve the “public interest, convenience and necessity”. For instance, it quickly became essential for farmers in the middle of the Great Plains to be able to receive market reports about whatever they were raising, to say nothing about the impending arrival of tornadoes. Since then, the spectrum has grown, or more accurately, we’ve learned how to use far more of it. (In the early 20th century, governments assigned a number of “shortwave” bands to amateur radio because it was incorrectly believed that hams “couldn’t get out of their backyards” with it.) More recently, auctioning off portions of the spectrum to the highest bidder has been seen by ours and other governments as a way to raise money.

    (2.) While terrestrial broadcasting is transmitted over the air for the use of anyone who can receive the signal, satellite radio and TV are essentially private communications, transmitted from the provider’s “bird” to only to paying subscribers. It’s actually illegal for someone to receive their signals without authorization, in the same way it’s illegal to climb the pole outside your house and tap into Comcast’s cable, or to intercept cellphone or emergency-service communications. (OK, trolls, I know, I know, Jim McDermott, blah-blah-blah. Thank you, now go fuck off.)

    The first law defining this originated in the 1980’s, when the cellphone companies were unable (or just too cheap) to encode the analog signals of the primitive cellphones of the day, so they went and asked Congress for help. The law that was passed was awful–it actually made the mere possession of equipment that could pick up “protected” communications evidence of intent to do so. Since one of the first chunks of spectrum assigned to cellphones was the upper half of the original UHF TV band, it turned anyone who owned a television set into a potential criminal.

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    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Don’t you understand that the objective of all business is to punish consumers? In a free and unregulated market, rational behavior consists of getting as much money from consumers for as few services as possible.

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    Lysander spews:

    Government created the cable tv monopoly. We would be much better off without the regulations that force us to chose only one cable tv provider.

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    randall spews:

    Actually, terrestrial radio and TV were regulated because the airwaves are considered to be owned by the public. Thank God conservatives weren’t in charge back then. Cable, in theory, was also regulated because it needs to use the public right of way. There was orginally hope that cable companies would compete but the cost of stringing all that infrastructure led to territoriality and de facto monopolies we see today. It is possible for competition to exist in cable. Tacoma has it because the city developed its own cable television and internet service. I am a Comcast customer in Tacoma and the difference in customer service I receive versus the stories I hear from people in other areas demostrates the value of competition- but it took government to create the competition because sometimes the private sector just loves its monopolies.

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    uptown spews:

    I use one of those digital converter boxes to receive digital broadcasts over the air. Better picture than analog cable ever was. I miss the sports, but it just wasn’t worth the price of admission.
    For movies and old TV shows, Netflix rules (with the help of their delivery service – the Postal Service).