Blog Archive

Friday, January 8, 2010

Roll Over or Get Tough - Part 2

A couple of weeks ago we talked about this issue as it relates to our agreements with some broadcast stations and as it related to the controversy between Fox and Time-Warner Cable. The broadcast station issue will not be an emergency until the end of 2011. The Time-Warner/Fox matter really only affected us as an observer and as a harbinger of things to come for us in the future. However, now we find ourselves directly and immediately affected by a breakdown in negotiations with MTV Networks.

Because of our small size in a market dominated by behemoths, we belong to a cooperative that purchases much of cable programming on behalf of hundreds of small cable systems like ours. That cooperative has done wonderful work in getting us lower prices and attractive terms for our cable programming, but now they find themselves in a "Roll Over or Get Tough" battle of their own. This battle is not looming over the horizon. It is upon us today.

The battle is over the programming we purchase from MTV Networks. On our system, these channels come from MTV Networks:

Comedy Central
MTV
MTV Hits
MTV2
MTV Tr3s
Nick Jr (Noggin)
Nickelodeon Toons
TeenNick (The N)
Nickelodeon
VH1
VH1 Classic
VH1 Soul
Spike TV
TV Land
CMT
CMT Pure Country

This is not an insignificant list and some of these channels might be your very favorites. So, we face the question again. We can stick with the cooperative and hope they can finalize a deal which is acceptable. Presently the negotiations are not going well and MTV is threatening to turn off those channels to our system on January 15 if the cooperative does not capitulate to their demands for increased fees. In the alternative, MTV has offered to sell us the programming directly, at much higher fees than we presently pay, if we break away from the cooperative and sign a direct deal with them by January 12. Of course, they are trying to break the back of the cooperative by convincing the members to move to direct deals like this.

So, we ask our customers once again. Do we roll over or get tough? The clock is ticking.

37 comments:

thouchen said...

roll over or get tough stay with the people you are with

jrb8185 said...

drop them - play tough, nothing worth watching on most of those channels anyway. They even ruined most of TVLand programming lately.

jrb8185 said...

drop them - play tough, nothing worth watching on most of those channels anyway. They even ruined most of TVLand programming lately.

Lydia said...

Drop them - the only way things will change is if people start standing up for what they believe.

Billy said...

I say look at the audience that these networks are geared for. They are probably not your actual subscriber but someone in the family who occasionally may watch a show on one of these stations. As for the quality that these stations offer it is growing less and less appealing with each change of programming. Take CMT for example they use to be a decent country music video and variety channel, now you can't tell really what they are geared for at all. GAC is much better. This package was a good investment when we were in the MTV generation, but it seems that most people have moved on. Here again your streaming internet should weigh in your decision. There is not many channels that are mentioned that you can't get updates, videos or full streaming episodes. Get Tough!

jrb8185 said...

that's a great point Billy - years ago the music video content on the VH1 and MTV channels was something I watched for hours each week. None of that content is even part of those channels' programming anymore. Same with CMT, Spike (formerly TNN), etc.

If the primary target market/viewers for these channels want the content, it's readily available via internet, (YouTube, etc) video streaming, etc. Fact is, most of them have already moved on to those other outlets for that content.

Skoalman710 said...

We must have Nickelodeon for Spongebob or I will not hear the end of this one. The rest does not really matter. If the rates go up to high, most people will just switch to Dishnetwork.

Stitch said...

Get tough. We do not respond well to threats.

lastride said...

drop them. If everyone does the same they will changer there minds.

mdjh said...

Do what you've got to do. But if you drop that many channels, you need to drop my rates or add some decent equivalent channels.

riddler said...

Larry said play tough, drop 'em.

William said...

I agree with jr8185's comments
Willy

justdvd said...

I canceled my cable with EPB about 2 years ago. Anything that I watched on TV I can still watch online. I was tired of rates going up and quality of programming going down. Just adding a channel to the line-up here or there doesn't make up for that different people like different things. I had considered getting cable again until I saw that EPB dropped G4TV from the basic cable line-up-one of the very few channels with programs that I went out of my way to watch. And I agree with "mdjh"-if you're going to end up dropping so many channels, I think most consumers would expect the rates to drop also (even though many of those channels are worthless these days anyway) or replace as many of them as possible with channels with something equivalent.

Greg said...

Of all those, the only one I watch is spike for the automotive shows. I would miss them but they're reruns most if the time anyway. Sometimes you have to stand up and say no. And less channels, that I don't watch, to flip through. Get tough!

James said...

Billy, I can't believe you would even think twice about pulling the plug on those channels. However, if you ever drop Fox News, I'm outa' here.

TVWATCHER said...

Are there other networks of channels that we don't have that could be purchased with the money we would save by losing the MTV network?

John said...

As I said in my comments from the previous "get tough" post, I say, drop 'em. We cannot just keep paying, and paying, and paying... Let them take their "channels" of "quality" television and go home. We can definitely do without most of what these guys have to offer if it means that they just get richer and richer just because they say so, "just because". So, again, I say get tough and stay tough.

jay73 said...

drop them..their nothing worth watching on those channels ..and then reduce our cable payments..their nothing worse than having to pay for something you don't want anyway..tv is half commercial anyway..tv shuts down after midnight and then it's all commercials..we pay the cables company's so they can scream at us with their commercials..wake up people and get angry and mad this is black mail on the part of the cable industry

Billy Ray said...

Certainly, if these channels actually wound up getting dropped permanently we would try to replace them or lower rates to return what we save to our customers. In reality, I think this will be more of a negotiating tactic that will ultimately result in a deal being struck to keep them. If they stay off, MTV Networks will lose over 5 million cable homes (yes the cooperative is that large) and I really doubt they have the stomach for that.

Joe said...

Since there are no teenagers in my house I never watch any of the mentioned channels anyway. As for me you can drop them off the list and it will not be any loss. It seems as if all these people are determined to raise prices on their programming just like SESAC, BMI, and the others do on an annual basis for people who have to subscribe to them to use music in businesses. Get tough!!

Keith said...

if you drop these channels i will have to go else where because my kids watches nick jr and cmt, that is all they watch. but you got to do what you have to do.

Flowerpower said...

I think you should play tough,don't let these companies tell us we have to have them, i don't think they'll want to loose alot of customers....

Keith said...

its bad enough we losing these channels and then next year we might lose the all the other ones like Fox. If we lose all these channels than why have cable. everyone might as well go get a dish and put it up because if they get tough we are not going to have any channels to watch and if they roll over, we can't afford to pay the prices.

Billy Ray said...

Well, the dish folks will have to negotiate pricing with these programmers just like us. If EVERYONE would get tough, the programmers would have to accept what people are willing to pay and all of us would save money. Hopefully, that is what will happen with MTV and we will get a breather before the next battle.

SilentJay said...

I say we get Tough, and not drop them at all. Here's my idea. Everyone talks about Social Media and Twitter. If we hashtag #Mtv in twitter posts and use other avenues like Digg or other high profile sites, to get the story out there, MTV might see this as a bad move. Spin it, "Mtv tries to bully small town cable networks" I know it can get coverage. When it does their Google results will not look well for them. Let's face it, Google is now officially a verb and household name. If Mtv starts getting bad PR from Google results they might change their tone.

Billy Ray said...

Sounds great to me SilentJay! Can you give us a brief tutorial on how to do that. I have to admit, I have never used the #hastag function on Twitter, but am willing to learn!

blaze said...

Well my teen will be upset to lose those channels but she doesn't pay the bill. I will only miss spike so I say get tough! Replace them or lower our bill.

bigpapat said...

I say drop them like a hot rock. I am not willing t pay more for crappy programimng. They are not making a better service or product, but yet they want more money for nothing. Quit paying your executives multimillion dollar
bonuses, and maybe you wouldn't have these problems. I like most of these channels. If they dissapear will our rates go down?

Chuck said...

It's finally time to start standing up to these companies. It wasn't that long ago that EPB was pushed to pay what seemed excessive for carrying WBKO. Before WBKO and their "demands" for money, it was the issue over FOX Sports South or whatever the name of it is. Smaller communities have to stay strong and stick with the cooperative it's a much better bargaining chip for us to be in the mix of millions of homes in a contract negotiation than 7,500 homes. It will also set the stage for EPB to point to this current resolve when future companies want to try the same strong arm tactics. I must say I'm glad to see the majority of comments on here are in agreement. I just would hope to expect the same resolve in the future when it comes to sports networks demands. Unfortunately it wasn't all that long ago that I recall reading comments from several people stating, that the entire community should cave in to "whatever" outragious price that was demanded to get the broadcast of a hand-full of Kentucky basketball games. So yes "bravo" let's get tough, but everyone better be prepared to be tough no matter which companies are involved. Since this isn't the first, and it certainly won't be the last time we'll be in this position.

Chuck said...

I read that SCRTC has decided to go outside of the Cable Coop to sign a separate contract. One with a so called "opt-out" clause that they can get out of if the Coop gets a better contract than they have. Wake up people, MTV agreeing to a contract with them with such a "opt-out" covers MTV such that if they get enough member companies of the Coop to jump ship they can strong arm the rest. They are testing to see if they can get enough, and if not they simply sign with the Coop again and wait until next time to try again. MTV would never agree to an "opt-out" in a contract otherwise.

SNM773 said...

I couldn't be more disappointed if these channels are dropped. My children watch Nickelodeon A LOT. There are very few channels that are kid friendly and this would be a shame. I think it's time that you think about your audience and customers!!!

Billy Ray said...

Amen Chuck, Amen. This matter is about standing for something instead of falling for everything. We want this programming for our customers! Heck, I want it for myself! But, everything has a value and, according to our folks at the Cable Cooperative, the MTV folks are asking for far too much money for this programming. The only way to allow our representatives at the cooperative to get us a good deal is to STICK WITH THEM.

Make no mistake, this issue is an attack on the walls of our fort so the enemy can find out how strong we are. If we show weakness, if we decide to go out and cut separate deals with MTV outside of the cooperative, it is the same as sending all of the other programmers an engraved invitation to attack our village when they get the chance.

If we stand together and do not allow our short term wishes for the programming we love to cloud our judgment, we will establish ourselves as a worthy opponent and not one to be trifled with. I am so thankful for all of these comments of support for this philosophy. If we can stick tough like this, I look forward to our next round of discussions with WBKO and other broadcasters!

John Rogers said...

United We Stand... Divided We Fall !

Eddie said...

For heavens sake, I grew up with only three channels and survived. Get tough!

Clint said...

I think we should get tough and replace those channels with similar channels like hallmark movie channel and the countless others that are out their, sorry to the kids but we can find other things to entertain them let's all go look for new channels that appeal to us as a whole, I watch spike for star trek voyager but that also plays on space tv, so yes their are other alternatives out their we just have to find them.

zmturner said...

See ya! Only thing on these channels that is watched here is Spongebob and it will not be missed. Nothing but trash on the MTV's. I won't loose any sleep, in fact I think I will be happy knowing that MTV is gone. Lower the rates and/or get some more HD channels.

evansgma said...

Plain simple & to the point "screw them" Drop all of them!