I Can't Wait to Not See the World Series: Cablevision vs. FOX

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Baseball-nutty customers of the country's eighth largest cable television company may soon be up shit's proverbial creek without the necessary paddle come October 16th, as two corporations are engaged in a standoff over fees that may result in Cablevision pulling the FOX network from their platform entirely. Tough news for any baseball fans among the three million Cablevision subscribers: the NLCS starts that same day, and a prolonged pissing match between these two conglomerates may keep the World Series off their television sets, too.

So, what's the big deal here? Why is the average American schmuck stuck in the middle?

Carriage contract talks have become more bruising as TV companies push for the first time to land monthly cash fees for broadcast networks. Cable- and satellite-TV operators say they try to withstand fee demands to avoid passing on costs to their customers' bills. As contract deadlines creep closer, each side blames each other for possible losses of favorite shows.

So Cablevision charges me, the customer, to receive the FOX network over their wires but FOX gets none of those fees. Now both companies are pushing advertising campaigns to get public support on their side in this horrible money grab, but in the end, they'll both lose.

Yes, this is just a regional problem in the greater New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania-Connecticut area. But (a) the two teams most favored to reach the World Series have fans concentrated in the reach of Cablevision's claws and (b) the same thing could happen to any fan in any state. What's the solution here? Simple, the FCC must allow and encourage more competition for carriers of television signals. But that's another post for another blog. How am I going to watch baseball this weekend?

Right now in my condo, my options are either subscribe to Cablevision or go watch baseball in a sports bar, which is what I did for most of the 2002 season, when Cablevision refused to carry the then brand new YES Network. But there are only so many Presidente margaritas I can quaff and so many Oldtimer burgers I can ingest at the Chili's down the street. If this nonsense means I cannot watch the NLCS and the World Series from the comfort of my sofa, I may have to resort to watching illegal feeds on my laptop. My hand would be forced!

No, access to crappy television shows like "Glee" is not an inalienable right, but access to baseball, our bucolic national pastime, sure the hell is. I'm pretty sure Abraham Lincoln mentioned it in the Gettysburg Address and I'm almost positive that I check off a box on my tax return every year donating $1 to the Keep the MLB Anti-Trust Exemption Alive and Well fund. Therefore and henceforth, no conglomerated corporation can keep me away from the World Series. Go ahead and fight, FOX and Cablevision. Baseball will find a way.


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16 Comments

Or, you know, get an antenna and watch an over-the-air signal like your grandparents used to do back in the days before television. Or whatever.

If I ever move out of my condo, I can assure you I will take that step.

Dish already dropped FX and the Regional Fox Sports channels. I wonder if they'll do this too. Who am I kidding? It's about money, so probably.

Don't forget, you have to have a digital converter box to go with those rabbit ears because the FCC sold the bandwidth necessary for an analog signal!

A digital converter box on the TV actually produces a much better signal than the old analog. /familyintheboondocks

@ Col, agreed
and you get those cool (2) and (3) channels

/ just wanted to rant against the man
/ mutter mutter

The new-age antennas don't need to be clumisly mounted on your roof to work anymore. They make new ones that you can put indoors that look like Kindles on steroids.

And the $30 price tag is less than you'd spend for two rounds of IPAs and an order of locally sourced mussels at your local hipster hangout.

Seriously, if anyone in the NYC area winds up sol come World Series time you're welcome to watch at my apartment. Through the window. If you have a reallllly tall ladder.

Also, make no mistake: when the broadcast stations successfully negotiate retrans fees from the cable carriers, the cost will be passed directly to Joe Consumer. And you, if that isn't your handle. But yeah, the cable companies aren't picking up that tab.

Interesting to note: the satellite companies have been quietly paying retrans fees for a while now.

Also interesting to note: on any given night, the six broadcast networks (Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, MyNet) represent 25-35% of all households using TV during prime time. Factor in a playoff game, like MLB or NFL? You're looking somewhere north of 40%. In other words, during peak hours, 30% of cable subscribers watch programming that cable doesn't have to pay for.

I'd put an indoor antenna in my abode but I'm afraid I live too far from NYC to pick up a good enough signal.

When I was very young, cable had not yet been invented by Eli Whitney. My dad was not a regular tv watcher, but if anyone was in front of the set, he would walk over, make a comment about the picture/reception, then spend three to five minutes fooling with the "fine tuning" knob, in an attempt to really lock in on that hot over-the-air action.

In virtually 100% of these instances, the picture/reception ended up being noticeably worse than prior to my dad's meddling. This is a) a metaphor/microcosm that explains much of my life and b) one reason why I was so effing happy when cable came to south Louisiana.

Will the World Series be broadcast on UHF?

Ask this guy.

@Rob

TV stations build and maintain transmission towers to help push the signal out a bit further in their DMA. When broadcast went digital last year, the FCC declared that everyone within a 75-mile radius of the broadcast site should have no problems. More or less this holds true, although weather can play a factor in reception quality. The only way to know for sure is to try it out.

Hey anyone in here have an extra pocket protector and some virginity I can borrow?

"you see, the transmitters and signals blah blah blah."

/packs up Magic cards
/kicks can

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