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.