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Cablevision Reprograms Boxes To Include Anti-ABC Channel

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the free-market-mud-slinging dept.

The Media 13

jantman writes "In the ongoing battle between Cablevision and ABC in the New York area, Cablevision has added a channel 1999 to display a looped anti-ABC ad. But, to take it a step further, Cablevision reprogrammed the cable boxes of all subscribers in the affected area to tune to this channel on power up."

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Seems Reasonable (3, Insightful)

MoriarGryphon (599643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31360632)

Seems like a bit passive-aggressive, but somewhat reasonable action on their part.

If I was a customer, I'd be angry that my box wasn't on the channel I left it.

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365220)

If Disney/ABC pulls the signal, replace it with a simple message

"ABC gives away this programming for free over the air, but wants to charge us to pass it along to you. Call ABC now at 1-800-whatever and tell them you can't see their ads right now."

Heck, if the pat-ourselves-on-the-back-this-month awards are that big a deal, I'd pull ABC now, to give them time to back down.

The broadcasters make their money on ads. I pay $11 a month to my cable company to get broadcast TV only, but that is basically for wire maintenance so I don't have to put an antenna up on my roof, convert all my gear to digital, throw out my ReplayTV because it lacks a digital tuner, etc. If they darkened ABC (which I'm not on CableVision, but if they pulled this with Crapcast), I'd just stop watching ABC programming.

If ABC gets these fees, then they will be passed on to me, and at that point I want a way to have the channel removed so Crapcast doesn't have to pay the fee so they can't pass it along to me.

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372644)

ABC gives away this programming for free over the air, but wants to charge us to pass it along to you.

Not exactly accurate. Cable co's. pay for most Disney channels, except ABC. Cablevision already charges customers for ABC, but Disney doesn't get any of that. They want a piece. From TFA:

Cablevision (CVC, Fortune 500) currently pays Disney more than $200 million a year to carry its cable networks, which include ESPN, the Disney Channel and ABC Family.

A Disney spokesman notes that Cablevision charges customers up to $18 a month to receive just the basic broadcast networks -- ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS -- but that Disney does not share in any of that revenue.

Re:Seems Reasonable (2, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31372902)

I read the article, but I have a very different take on what's going on.

I do not pay Comcast a penny that I expect to be sent along to Disney for ABC, or anyone else for NBC, CBS, FOX, WB, or any of the "broadcast" media. I am not, in fact, paying them for content. The content is freely available to my rooftop antenna should I choose to get it that way.

I am paying them for taking a clear signal from ABC, CBS, NBC, et al and interpreting it into an analog signal that is then sent over miles of expensive coaxial cable and fed into my house. That way, I get a clear signal that always works with my analog gear, rather than depending on my old rooftop antenna and a digital signal conversion box.

If ABC decides that Comcast needs to pay $0.50 for every month I have access to that signal, and NBC and CBS and the others all do it, I'm looking at another $5 tacked on to my cable bill, because Comcast is charging me for maintenance and upkeep of coax cable and a distribution system, and a profit. If their costs go up, so will their prices.

I always have the alternative of rerunning the coax to my rooftop antenna and using a digital conversion box, and get ABC et al for free. I choose not to do that because Comcast makes it more convenient for me to receive ABC, a service which I gladly pay for, and from which Comcast makes a profit.

Comcast is a trucking company, in charge of distribution. They don't owe ABC any more money than they owe Slashdot for creating the Internet content I am now consuming.

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31373158)

I am paying them for taking a clear signal from ABC, CBS, NBC, et al and interpreting it into an analog signal that is then sent over miles of expensive coaxial cable and fed into my house.

Sorry, I was unclear or incomplete. I agree with you, but was just stating *their* argument. In addition, I don't think Disney as asking Comcast to charge customers more for re-broadcasting ABC, just that they want a piece of what's being charged (Disney is EVIL). Of course, Comcast would be stupid not to pass along any loss to Disney as an increase to customers *and* blame Disney (Comcast is also EVIL)...

I'm not sure about the exact requirements/options for cable co's to carry local OTA channels, but know that there is sometimes unpleasant contract wrangling between my local cable and the affiliates.

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31384546)

Or you can just get the digital signal directly over the air - that's what I do with an old pair of pre-digital rabbit-ears, and it works fine. HDVT@1920x1080. Screw the cable companies.

Re:Seems Reasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379280)

If ABC decides that Comcast needs to pay $0.50 for every month I have access to that signal, and NBC and CBS and the others all do it, I'm looking at another $5 tacked on to my cable bill, because Comcast is charging me for maintenance and upkeep of coax cable and a distribution system, and a profit. If their costs go up, so will their prices.

You're assuming that input cost determines the price that you pay. It doesn't. Comcast charges you the maximum that you are willing to pay -- regardless of costs. Costs have nothing to do with prices (except in cost-plus industries, which are horribly inefficient.)

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

Manax (41161) | more than 4 years ago | (#31404312)

Of course costs have something to do with prices, if the costs are in excess of prices (for too long), the company goes under (except for banks, or the US automotive industry, or the airlines, or the rail system, or busses, or primary education or the postal system... ).

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31419642)

The pay for ABC, otherwise it wouldn't have gone dark. I've heard fees as high as $1 per channel. In fact cable in general is now subsidizing OTA(Over the Air) broadcasts. If everyone switched most local stations would go broke(Some already have). The problem with most content, is there is a complex set of interdependent revenue structures and removing one can break the whole system. Just think if everyone used Hulu instead of cable? There would be a lot less cables channel and a lot less new content.

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31419572)

The best idea for a cable company to resolve this problem is to.... Start an ABC/Disney tier. Make basic cable 50 cents cheaper and charge $3-$5 for a Disney/ABC tier. If people complain then just blame it on a greedy Disney company demanding more more for their content.

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31419716)

That's best, but not practical. Basic cable exists today as a simple on/off analog signal that is sent over the cable to all customers. "Extended basic analog" is sent the same way, except they put a filter on customers who don't pay for it. It's only when you get into the "premium" or digital channels that it becomes worth the money to put in a specialized tuner.

That's why true "a la carte" programming is so impractical. They are just pumping a consistent signal over all the wires in the network.

I suppose they could simply move ABC up to the "extended basic" tier, though, with all the other cable channels that they have to pay for content. Then they could just add whatever Disney wants for ABC to the "extended basic" charge.

Re:Seems Reasonable (2, Interesting)

BlackHwk98 (468920) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365716)

I work for one of the cable companies(I shall remain nameless in that regard). The amount of customers that fly off the handle when there's a box update and the box reboots to channel 1, when they have set to previous channel, is amazing.

Re:Seems Reasonable (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31420522)

These are probably the same ones who are recording from the cable box output and thus depending the box to stay on the channel that carries the programming they want to record.

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