By: Jeff Simmermon at 04:29 pm
As soon as I get over a cold, I think it’s the last one I’ll ever have. So when the inevitable headache, sneezing and crippling sinus pain crops up again, there’s this layer of existential disappointment on top of the actual discomfort. “Come on, body,” I always think “why do you have to turn on me like this AGAIN?”
That’s pretty much what’s going on with our relationship with Hearst right now, too. It’s the same old head-cramps and noseblowing that is part of the cable/TV business in the 21st century. It spreads itself all over the programming landscape, too. The same stuff is happening to Dish and AMC, DirecTV and Viacom right now, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s the last time they’ll be dealing with this stuff, either.
This time, Hearst Television has chosen to black out their signals from our customers rather than continue negotiations, despite their CEO saying just two weeks ago that broadcaster blackouts are unfair to consumers.
Time Warner Cable has reached hundreds of agreements with other broadcasters without broadcaster blackouts, but Hearst’s demand for a nearly 300% increase is way out of line. That kind of outrageous increase is unfair to our customers and unsustainable for our business.
Our customers seem to agree with us, too – here are a few comments from WLWT’s (in Cincinnati) site:
In order to keep rates down, the cable providers also need to keep programming costs down, but that won’t happen as long as the broadcasters keep up with this method of extortion. I’m not crazy about paying for a tv service that I can watch for free with an antenna.
People are getting mad at twc but this is why their bill goes up all the time. These channels holding them hostage. There’s nothing worth watching on wlwt anyway except the news and Sunday night football and I can go to a sports bar for that. Good riddence wlwt!
We believe broadcaster blackouts are wrong. Despite Hearst’s blackout, we stand ready to continue negotiations and are hopeful that the channel will be returned to the lineup shortly.
The following channels in the following areas are unfortunately subject to Hearst’s blackout:
We hate this situation worse than a summer cold. Colds are a lot cheaper, for one thing. We’ve got a little metaphorical nasal spray here to get most people over this hump until we’ve figured out a deal, though:
1) Most people can get local news, weather and traffic on other, competing stations or online.
2) All of the channels are available for free over the air and at least one is streaming its newscast online for free. It’s a real shame that Hearst is asking for a 300% increase from us an simultaneously offering their content for free, but that’s where we are.
3) Many of the affected network shows can be found on Hulu and Netflix.
4) Where possible, we’ve imported the signals of missing big-four stations from other markets in order to lighten the loss of the network programming. Nearly half of affected customers have a replacement signal.
WISN in Milwaukee is still on the air, leaving those customers unaffected. WISN is now dark, too.
We’re working hard to get this situation overwith as quickly as possible. Just like a head cold, it’s going to go away soon enough, but it might feel like forever while we’re all in the thick of it and blowing our way through the mess.