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Rupert Murdoch is a FOX but Time Warner was a Weasel – Part 1: Winners & Losers

Posted on January 4 2010 8:00 pm
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CNN reported late Friday that FOX was not going to “pull” its programming from some 15 million Time Warner subscribers after all.  Pull? Interesting word choice.  Thank God no American will be deprived of American Idol.

The FOX television network spent the month of December negotiating with Time Warner Cable on behalf of it’s 18 large-market television stations…the contract for cable carriage was expiring and FOX wanted payment for it’s  popular programming  ala the payments Time Warner Cable makes to ESPN, TNT, HBO, etc.

Both CNN & NBC missed the point. FOX was not depriving anyone of anything.  They were simply & finally insistent that Time Warner Cable, who profits from the FOX programming compensate FOX as the programmer.  Wow, what a concept. (And one that NewsReal’s Joe Klein had a post about last week.)

There is an insider phrase for this process – it’s called retransmission consent.  Don’t care?  Don’t have to.  Except for this: our journalistic colleagues at (the previously Ted Turner owned) CNN and Jeff Immelt’s NBC consistently painted this as:

“FOX trying to squeeze more money out of Time Warner”, and “FOX threatening Time Warner Cable”.

But the negotiation was nothing more than the free market system at work.

These fee negotiations are usually conducted & concluded quietly without viewers ever knowing.  But when Time Warner Cable opted to take it to the next level and let it play out in the court of public opinion, NBC and CNN were clearly on their side of the court.  Slippery those cable operator guys, but the mainstream media took the bait –  hook, line & sinker.  Just one more chink in the free market system, one more missed opportunity for television viewers to understand and embrace capitalism.

NBC’s MSNBC reported on-line late Friday that “FOX had threatened to force Time Warner Cable to drop the FOX broadcast signal from 14 TV stations…”

Apparently we missed the memo about for-profit companies being required to give their product away for free lest they be painted as uncaring villains. Pretty sad job of clearly and accurately reporting a story that impacted 15 million television viewers.

Next up in Part 2:   Clash of the Titans it Ain’t

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