You’re not watching Fox

As Canadians ponder whether to create a system similar to the U.S. for negotiation between cable/satellite carriers and broadcast television stations, the U.S. system is having its own issues: Fox and Time Warner Cable are at an impasse in negotiations, and if they don’t come to an agreement before Jan. 1, the Fox-owned stations (and possibly affiliates as well) could get removed from Time Warner Cable systems.

Naturally, people down there are panicking (at least those who know about the dispute). That’s leading some to ask the obvious question: Why are we being asked to pay for something that’s free? And why are two giant megacorporations pretending that they’re on my side?

Politicians have also gotten involved. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, wrote a letter to both companies urging a negotiated settlement, saying that if Fox was removed from Time Warner Cable, television viewers would be deprived of vital news and information programming, and would lose an important connection with their local communities.

Haha, just kidding. Kerry’s only worried about BCS football games on Jan. 1, which Fox has the exclusive rights to.

UPDATE (Dec. 30): Denis McGrath gives some context on how this compares with the Canadian fee-for-carriage debate.

4 thoughts on “You’re not watching Fox

  1. Pepper Boxer

    I’m giving up on Videotron and the entire debate. Just experimented with free HD channels with my aerial antennae and quite frankly, it’s good enough for me. If I need movies, I’ll rent them or use an online service.

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  2. Fassero

    Routine stuff for Time Warner and it makes me wonder whether they pull these stunts more for publicity (Time Warner also being the owners of TMZ and The Smoking Gun and we’ve seen events with those two in spades in the last couple of days). I think Viacom had a dispute with them a year ago and the YES network the year before that.

    I’m sure the mighty BCS games will see the light of day on Time Warner Cable. Fox can’t afford the massive advertiser refunds they’d have to dole out if the games are not shown never mind that I’m sure there’s something in Fox’s agreement with the NCAA (via the bowl organizers) where they have to guarantee a particular (and large) coverage spread in order to maintain their exclusivity over Jan. 1 games. Not that TWC won’t give a bit either – FOXnews, like it or not, is the dominant cable news player in the U.S. and a great subscriber cash cow for them as a result.

    Of course, there’s only passing similarity to Canada because Fox locals, like all the other major U.S. networks, are affiliates and they, in turn, make their own deals with distributors.

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