The epic battle of television titans was quietly and peacefully concluded in the waning hours of 2009. At least it was reported like an epic battle, but was actually no more and no less than the free market system at work.
When MSNBC headlined Friday night at 9:17pm
“Millions could have lost channel if News Corp cable giant didn’t agree”
it was disingenuous at best. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Some networks, Time Warner Cable said on its Web site,
“are trying to boost their bottom line by squeezing cable TV viewers like you — and threatening to pull the plug on popular shows if we don’t roll over.”
Roll over indeed. Laughable if it wasn’t so patently untrue. Cable operators have ALWAYS paid for other programming like ESPN, TNT, and HBO etc. NBC News should know better, and in fact they do.
The FOX TV stations in 14 cities were simply invoking the 1992 Cable Act which says they may insist that cable companies compensate them for re-using the free FOX broadcast signal.
The actual reality ignored by MSNBC in its dramatic and breathless loss-of-American Idol reporting was that no viewer was really going to lose anything. FOX is a broadcast network and it provides free-over-the-air television unlike cable. Time Warner Cable makes money from the FOX signal but was unwilling to pay to acquire it.
Those weasely cable ops can raise or lower their profit margins with zero impact on consumers. They can do that, but doubtless won’t. Time Warner Cable could choose to absorb the cost without gouging its customers again, but they won’t have to.
The mainstream media reporting would rather chew off its own leg than side with anything owned by Rupert Murdoch.