July 17, 2012

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TV Blackouts: Switching Doesn’t Help

So, if you haven’t noticed – we are in a contract dispute with Hearst and millions of our customers are without Hearst stations. At the same time, DirecTV and Viacom are at it with each other and DirecTV customers are without Viacom programming.

Ditto AMC and Dish.

During negotiations like this, it is common for programmers to suggest that affected customers switch to a rival programmer.

And we’ve been saying for years that switching is a Band-Aid fix at best. It brings me absolutely no pleasure to say that this current situation- with Hearst, Viacom, AMC, Time Warner Cable, Dish and DirecTV – proves our point more strongly than ever.

Here’s our official statement:

Like the millions of consumers affected by it directly, we deplore that programmers have once again pulled the plug on television viewers, this time with DirecTV, Dish Networks and Time Warner Cable. Consumers are tired of these disputes and so are we — television networks can’t continue to demand huge price increases and expect us to silently pass those cost increases on to our customers.

We will continue to stand up for consumers against programmers’ outrageously large price increases that serve no purpose other than to line network pockets at our customers’ expense.


  1. dJoe Meunier's reply

    I understand what this issue is about. Actually my wife and I like the Hallmark Movie Channel that is taking the place of ABC, or KMBZ local affiliate. Too bad. More money is not the answer. I sort of applaud TW for standing up to this extortion. It sort of reminds me of the $3+ gas prices we are paying. Outrageous, we are chumps fop allowing this crap to happen.

  2. Jack's reply

    Thanks Jeff,

    The real investigation should be, what can stop this from happening again? It seems every 3-5 years there is a contract dispute between a cable, Dish, or other service over retransmission fees.

    I submit that the 1992 Cable Retransmission and Broadcasters’ Regulatory Act is outdated. Companies can (and usually) reach fair and just agreements with no disruption in service. But maybe the 1992 Cable Act needs revising so that the two companies can do what they can to reach an agreement without disruption of service. However, if that does not work, bring in a mediator who will work with both sides to do everything they can to reach fair deals, at fair prices, while insuring that customers don’t lose their programs in the process.

  3. mary ann's reply

    Why don’t you tell us what the increase is going to be we decide if we want to cancel our service?

    I’m so mad I’m very close to canceling all my services with you.

  4. Jeff Simmermon's reply

    Mary Ann – We can’t tell you what the increase is going to be — we are negotiating to determine it. And from our side, it’s not just one person. “Pennies per day” multiplied by several million customers becomes a LOT of pennies very, very quickly.

  5. Dr. Charles Blaisdell's reply

    You are all competitors fighting for personal advantage and profit with each other. Each other service is saying the same inane things to keep their customers from shopping. I do not know, nor should I have to care, which corporation supplies you with the content. I am a BASIC CABLE USER. I DON’T CARE ABOUT 180 EXTRA CHANNELS I WILL NEVER WATCH. I AM UNABLE TO AFFORD THE BILL YOU SEND ME NOW. ABC, NBC and CBS are FREE broadcast licenses awarded by the FCC to competing applicants who demonstrate they will better serve the viewing area than you will. I submit that if you do not get at least the basics under control, the stations we can still put an aerial up and receive for free but which we pay you to deliver in better quality by cable, some bright new Facebook enthusiasts who know how to use the internet (I don’t) will get together competing application for these stations and take them away from the whole pack of you.

    Since my anger is specific to loss of ABC, I feel completely justified in demanding that you do something NOW about THAT station. Otherwise, I will switch just to be able to expressly frustration with you on this and other matters I have written to you private about.

  6. Casey's reply

    Time Warner and other satellite & cable companies are trying to make more $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ of off “FREE” over the air networks/companies. Prices are already tooooooo high but they are jousting the customers by not providing what they already pay for.

  7. Amy's reply

    Switching doesn’t help. Well, I would expect a corporation to say that. Money talks, isn’t that what this is all about.
    The day you took my ABC affiliate off the air, you got my cable box and internet modem back.
    I completely agree that rate increases become a lot of pennies, I have been enduring them from Time Warner for years.

    I would suggest to you that as one of the worst rated companies in the US for customer service, you focus on making your customers happy, not telling them how to behave.

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