WABC (ABC's New York broadcasting station) is threatening to pull its signal from Cablevision on March 7th. WABC is demanding a heightened subscriber fee which is rumored to be a 50 to 60 cent increase or $40 million in new fees for programming from Cablevision and subscribers. Currently WABC's programming is free over-the-air and online and it will likely remain free. So why then should Cablevision and its subscribers for programming that is available for free?
This leads me to ask a larger question about the overall functionality of cable. In the past year there has been a few disputes between networks and cable providers including Cablevision and Scripps Networks Interactive (the parent company of HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Travel Channel, Fine Living Network (FLN) and Great American Country) and Fox Network Television and Time Warner Cable. Much of this problem stems from the decrease in advertising revenue these channels are receiving due to recession and what I think is the biggest factor, the move of television content to the online. Site like Hulu.com and the network's very own websites provide cable television for free at anytime the viewer wishes to watch the program. It is very difficult for Television itself to compete with the internet.
Traditional television seems to be collapsing. Cable companies are losing subscribers to the internet and networks are losing advertisers to online providers. This whole model needs to be re-worked. Networks should stop giving their content out for free (or virtually free since advertisers pay significantly less or online ads than television ads) and start charging for online views. Time Warner and Comcast's TV Everywhere Initiative (an authentication system that allows cable subscribers to access cable content online, but only if one proves that one has a subscription to a cable/satellite provider click here for more details about the initiative) needs to become to standard.
Comcast's Fancast.com is already putting the TV Everywhere model into action and a few friends of mine are reaping the benefits. College students living away from home can access their parents cable from campus' throughout the country. Premium channels like HBO can be streamed live. It is really cool.
Now back to the WABC/Cablevision Dispute
If the dispute does not get resolved by March 6th, WABC will go dark at 12:01am on March 7. This is greatly upsetting to me as a Cablevision subscriber because the Oscars air live on March 7th. What is ABC thinking? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in conjunction with ABC has worked hard to revamp the show in order to increase the ratings. The number of nominated movies for Best Picture has increased to 10 films and a number of younger actors and directors were admitted into the academy in hopes of increasing viewership. The New York viewing audience will be decreased due to inability of Cablevision subscribers to view the awards show. WABC is only hurting ABC's viewership. It is the best interest of WABC to end this dispute as soon as possible.
That is all I will wax poetic about for now.
Peace and Love,