Time Warner wants us to believe them yet again.
This is the same Time Warner that is just about the only programming provider in the Austin area that does not have a deal with the NFL Network. Not that I have any deep and abiding love for the NFL Network, but I did want to see a telecast of the Dallas Cowboys against the New Orleans Saints this past weekend. I could have sought out a friend with Dish, Direct TV, or Grande. I could have gone to a nearby sports bar and watched with a room full of loud people whom I do not know. Instead, I was relegated to NFL.com’s “live” coverage punctuated with its insipid “insights” into the game that was often going on in the background. Once, I could see the replay the sideline reporter was describing in a screen. It was something, but I’d rather have had the game.
This is the same Time Warner that has moved the free over-the-air digital stations, such as public television’s KLRU TV’s two side channels to the digital tier, out of the reach of customers who cannot or wish not to pay for it. There are blank spaces in the basic spectrum where worthy channels used to live. Now, they are gone or out of reach. I’ve wondered why we have blank channels.
This is the same Time Warner that went to war with LIN TV, owner of KXAN TV (NBC) and a couple of dozen other stations around the country over retransmission rights and payments last year. This Time Warner couldn’t make a deal with LIN, so they took KXAN out of the line-up.
Now, this same Time Warner is playing hardball with Fox and KTBC TV (Fox owned and operated) locally. This time the stakes are higher because conditions have changed, and I wouldn’t want to negotiate with Rupert Murdoch and his minions. The contract runs out January 1st.
TW’s tact is much different this time. They emailed all subscribers asking whether subscribers wanted TW to “get tough” with the networks—a pre-emptive strike. They asked for viewers votes. Apparently, viewers said, “Get tough.” Now, TW can say that they have the viewers on their side. It could be interpreted as the old saw, “If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain.”
So, acting on that TW is taking out full-page ads in the Austin American-Statesman (not cheap) saying, “You told use to get tough. We listened.” Time Warner claims TV networks are demanding price increases as high as 300%...” or “…they’ll pull the plug on their programs.” Time Warner wants you to believe that it, the second largest cable provider in the country, is the victim.
Fox, meantime, responded with its own full page ad (not cheap) of its own shouting, “Time Warner cable isn’t playing fair, and you could lose Fox.” Fox warns of future rate increases. Folks, if you were ready for the “digital revolution”, you will not lose Fox. You can pick it up off the air in full high definition, if you are so equipped.
Both TW and Fox have set up web sites to voice your opinion.
You do have a choice, of course. You can ignore the hullaballoo, have your Fox programming too. You may be able to change programming providers to keep the national programming. You can watch Fox over the air. It’s free.
© Jim McNabb, 2009