Blog Archive

Monday, November 24, 2008

Broadcast Stations vs. Glasgow's Economy

When the EPB meets this week they will be considering the latest offers from the television broadcasters relative to what they are going to charge the people of Glasgow for the privilege of viewing their programming via the EPB cable system. You will recall that this is the broadcaster's little "agreement among friends" to extract massive payments for programming that everyone is accustomed to receiving for free. Curiously, they all decided to make these demands this year.

The EPB Board will be considering some painful choices. We know our customers are already rocked by financial hardship. The economy is in trouble. The cost of electric power is spiraling. In short, everyone should realize that this is not the time to demand more money from folks who are already hurting. But, that is exactly what the broadcast television stations are doing.

A couple of things are certain. Some of the broadcast stations you have been getting for years will disappear on January 1, 2009. However, all is not lost as we may be able to add a couple of stations back to our lineup that have been gone for a long time. Finally, it is also certain that the very best deal we can negotiate will still result in an increase in the rate for our basic tier of programming. Right now it looks like the increase will be in the neighborhood of $1.75 per month for the basic broadcast tier, but that final decision will be up the EPB Board when it meets.

I think everyone should know that our friends at WBKO in Bowling Green are being the most hard- nosed about demanding money (if we agree to what they are demanding they will be taking $50,000 per year out of Glasgow's economy) and refusing to negotiate more reasonable terms. Each of the other broadcasters started off asking a certain amount and then were willing to negotiate with us for lower amounts. This has not been the case with WBKO and as time winds down, it does not seem like they are going to change.

This is another example of the problems faced by Glasgow's local economy. There are simply too many businesses (like WBKO) that are determined to export money from Glasgow's economy while providing precious little for us in return. These are the problems that Glasgow's new movement, Sustainable Glasgow is being created to address. We simply have to learn how to provide more goods and services for ourselves such that we can keep our money in local circulation and enjoy the "multiplier" effects of sustaining local businesses. In the future, every time I look at WBKO's programming I will be thinking about the $50,000 per year they are taking from us and how that money might have helped a local business person grow his business in Glasgow. I hope you will too.

Of course, WBKO feels that the information and entertainment products they produce are well worth that money. But an event this weekend at The Plaza Theater reconfirmed my belief that we can inform, and certainly can entertain ourselves as well. If you were one of the roughly one thousand folks who attended the bluegrass music event at The Plaza Theater this weekend, you know what I am talking about. Local government officials made a fantastic decision to purchase and renovate this facility. Local employees and volunteers at The Plaza Theater assembled the talent and produced the show. They also sold tickets, ushered folks, sold concessions, and ran the lights and sound systems. To a large extent, the talent was local as well, and that closes the circle on my theory. We have a place, we have the management folks and talented volunteers, and we have local talented musicians. We also have wonderfully talented local thespians - The Far Off Broadway Players who are working hard to entertain us locally as well.

So, my point is this. Distant companies who are enriching themselves by siphoning off Glasgow's wealth better pay attention to the changing tide. Sustainable Glasgow intends to work diligently to identify places where our treasure is leaking out of the community to vendors who might be relying too heavily on our slumber. Together, we can awaken Glasgow's determination to protect itself and provide for our own needs.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Your Digital Set Top Box is Acting Funny

Many of you noticed some strange behavior by your digital set top box this week. Monday night, in preparation for our upcoming roll-out of Video-On-Demand (VOD), there was a universal software upgrade to all 3,000 of the boxes in Glasgow. Some of the boxes did not respond well. By that I mean that some refused to display the guide, some refused to respond to the remote control, some refused to carry out the trash and say "please" and "thank you."

We have found that most of the boxes can be whipped back into shape by simply unplugging the power cord for a few seconds and then plugging it back in (don't you wish this was effective on errant children?). After the power down, they usually are back in service with the new software within an hour or so. However, I have noticed a couple of changes that are simply Motorola's idea of improvements. Those changes will not go away, even after unplugging the box and rebooting it.

The change I noticed last night was with my "guide" button. In the past I could push it once to get the guide and then I could press it again to summon the little menu at the bottom of the screen. I liked that feature because it meant no matter which button I pushed, I could get the screen I wanted just by pushing it some more (this is akin to the male theory that everything can be fixed by pushing harder or getting a bigger hammer). Alas, now when one pushes the "guide" button a second time you just get a listing of the upcoming programs on the channel you happen to be tuned to at the time. We have tried, but so far found no way to get the old "push guide twice if you really want the menu" feature to return. So, it looks like something we need to get used to.

We will keep you posted as we find other changes. You can keep us all posted as well by commenting on this post by clicking the "comments" link below and posting what you have discovered. I'm sure we all would like to hear what changes you might find. Oh, and I have now seen VOD demonstrated and it is waaaay cool. You are going to love it and it should arrive on your set well before Christmas!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Want to Know the Latest? Learn to Twitter!

There are always a lot of new things going on at the EPB, but this latest thing is a way for you to better keep up with all of the other things. We have discovered Twitter, and we think it might be a real breakthrough in our ability to keep our customers posted on what is going on -- right now!

To participate in getting the very latest real-time information, just click on this link or look on the left side of this blog at the new area entitled "Twitter Updates" and click on the link at the bottom of the updates that says "Follow the EPB on Twitter." Once there, follow the instructions to sign up for an account and then click on the "Follow" button. Then each time you come back to Twitter.com and sign in, you will see the updates from us! Also, if you have a cell phone (who doesn't?) and if it can receive text messages, enter that information when you are signing up for your Twitter account and you will get the EPB updates instantly when we post them. Even if you were sitting in the dark after a power outage, you would get the updates from us via your cell phone. We think that feature has tremendous possibilities.

This very morning is a great example of the possibilities. This morning we arrived to find many folks calling in to report problems with their digital set top boxes that came as a result of a software upgrade early this morning. The fix for this problem is simple and we realized that if most of our customers were already receiving our Twitter updates, we could broadcast simple instructions via Twitter that would save everyone the trouble of calling in and having us give the instructions one at a time. Obviously we could do the same thing with widespread power outages. Once we realize that a group of several hundred homes are off we could Twitter the information out to all, and, even if you were sitting in the dark without the ability to check Twitter or this blog for information, you could get the information via text message to your cell phone!

Of course, it will take a while for us to get thousands of customers signed up for Twitter and receiving these updates, but, let's start this morning and see how fast we can go! Oh, and by the way, if your digital box is one of the ones that is mysteriously blank this morning, just unplug the power cord, wait about ten seconds, plug it back in and wait about twenty minutes and the new software should download and bring you converter back to life. If that does not work, give us a call!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Broadcast Stations Update

As we described in our last post several days ago, we are in a full-blown arm wrestling battle with the television stations in Bowling Green, Nashville, and Louisville over the fees they want to charge us for the right to provide their signals to you via our cable system. It would be wonderful to report that they have all seen the error of their ways and have decided to allow us to continue receiving and distributing their signals without charge, but such is not the world we live in today. They want money and they want a lot of it -- starting January 1, 2009.

So far only a couple of things are already clear. We are definitely not going to be able to make a deal with the folks at WZTV (our channel 17 which is a FOX affiliate out of Nashville) or WUXP (our channel 15, a UPN affiliate also out of Nashville) so you can already anticipate those channels being gone from our lineup on January 1. However, we are looking for replacements for them.

We are cautiously optimistic that we are going to reach a reasonable deal with WNKY (our channels 7 and 8) out of Bowling Green. We are also fairly optimistic about reaching a deal with WDRB (our channel 16), a FOX affiliate out of Louisville, and we will clearly have deals with KET, WKYU, and WPBM (our channels 11, 18, 23, and 24. Curiously, our neighbors in Bowling Green at WBKO (our channels 12, 13, 14, and 513) are being particularly aggressive in their demands for compensation and we do not have an agreement with them. At the same time, WTVF (our channel 10 and 515), and WAVE (our channel 99) are also not done deals as we have yet to get any sort of final offer from them. We are holding offers from WSMV (NBC affiliate from Nashville that we have not carried for several years) and WHAS (ABC affiliate from Louisville that we also have not carried for several years) and may move forward with these stations if we do not reach reasonable terms with these other stations very soon.

Even at my most optimistic view of how all of this will play out, the result will still likely result in an increased cost of over $1.50 per cable subscriber. As always, stay tuned to this site for the latest information on how this is going to play out for cable customers in Glasgow. Your views and comments and suggestions are always appreciated!

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