Blog Archive

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Roll Over or Get Tough?

It warms our heart to see two titans of the cable television world slugging it out over an issue that has been affecting us in Glasgow for years. As 2008 was coming to a close we were enraged by the heavy-handed demands of broadcast stations in Bowling Green, Nashville, and Louisville, for payment of huge fees for the right to carry their signals on our cable television system. Now it is Time Warner Cable and News Corporation (the owners of the many Fox stations we all know) who are locked in a dispute over the very same thing.

I have to admit cheering when Time Warner introduced this website to educate and take the pulse of their customers on the question of whether they should get tough and refuse to pay the exorbitant fees demanded by Fox or just roll over and pay them, and, in turn, pass the cost along to the customers. On a far, far smaller scale, we have been there and done that. We too have had a long running battle with Fox over their Fox Sports South service and the UK basketball games they own each year. We too have felt the sting of criticism from our customers who feel that no price is too high where a University of Kentucky basketball game is concerned, while the majority of our customers applaud our steadfast refusal to pay Fox Sports South over $100,000 per year for the rights to these games. So, it is nice to see this matter get some serious nationwide attention when two heavy weight contenders climb into the ring.

This article in today’s New York Times does a fine job of examining the problem from all angles. I hope you will click on the link and take a few minutes to read this article. It would also do us all a lot of good for you to ponder this matter and continue to give us feedback on our own struggle to decide between getting tough or rolling over for the demands of all programming providers, but especially the broadcast stations. Less than two years from now we will be locked in discussions with the likes of WBKO, WTVF, WNKY, WSMV, and WHAS again. We will be facing the luxury of having multiple NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox stations from Bowling Green, Nashville, and Louisville, versus the financial reality that these stations are demanding dramatically escalating payments for programming which was designed to be sent out over the airwaves for free.

The really frustrating part of this is that the entities demanding the outrageous fees always hold some sort of popular programming as a hostage - most of the time it is sports programming of some sort, and we as a society seem all too willing to negotiate, and pay the ransom, demanded by the hostage takers. Perhaps the most telling part of the NYT article linked above is at the end when Senator John Kerry is quoted as calling upon Time Warner and News Corporation to hurry up and reach an agreement because "millions of football fans are depending on it." Are we as a people willing to thus negotiate with hostage takers? You betcha.

Should we roll over or should we get tough and actually drop some of these stations because they are asking for too much money? You now have less than two years to let us know before we face the same matter that the people of New York, Los Angeles and other cities are facing right now. Please let us know how you feel.


Anonymous said...

AS far as I am concerned I think you should Get Tough! Why pay more because of a few programs..The majority of people seem to agree with that.
AS there is not a lot to watch on TV anymore as I don't like Reality programs and there are more and more of them..Maybe you should consider dropping some of these stations...
W J Walton

General said...

I think that you should get tough to a point with these companies. I know it cost a lot of money but inturn local people will not be able to watch the football games and nascar and all kinds of sports and other shows like hells kitchen and American Idol just to name a few popular programs tht are carried by Fox. I don't like to pay more on my bills but i would to save the Fox Channel.

Billy Ray said...

Well General, that means roll over then. It is like a poker game, if we are going to get tough we have to be prepared to go all in and show our cards. If they know we are going to roll over and pay them because we cannot tolerate the loss of the programming, then they are going to charge whatever they want and we are going to pay it.

John said...

I am definitely in the "Get Tough" group. I cannot see justifying paying exorbitant fees just to keep a certain few channels that seem to be a "must have" situation. While I realize that they are in businsess to make money from their cable services, I just cannot feel good about everyone having to pay more for the "benifits" of a few "popular" channels of programming. Quite a lot of current programming is available on the Internet (and now thanks to our new higher EPB Internet speeds, even more easily accessible). Also, I know that you guys at the EPB have to make your decisions from a business standpoint as well, you don't want to lose customers either. Please do not give in to these greedy opportunists from the cable industry and the local station moguls as well, who say we have to pay more "just beacause". Especially considering the "quality" of a lot of these shows, I, for one, will be perfectly happy with somewhat fewer channels and a lower monthly bill.

Unknown said...

I say draw the line in the sand and don't cross it. If not then where does it stop. No where. There will be increase after increase and sooner or later drawing the line in the sand will come down to a have to case. We may not be the largest cable subscriber system in the world, but it has to start somewhere. It might as well be with our small, loud voice. Don't feed the giant he will only grow bigger, stronger and more in control!