Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cable Fight Over

I mentioned the other day about the cat-fight going on between Cable TV of East Alabama (CTVEA), the local cable company, and WTVM, the local ABC affiliate. The cable company had sent out letters -- and posted on their Website (since removed) -- a request for their customers to contact WTVM and WXTX (the Fox affiliate) to protest the decision of WTVM (and apparently, WXTX) to charge a fee to rebroadcast their programming.

The spat ended with CTVEA deciding to "suck it up," keep the channels, and not pass along an additional fee to subscribers.

And it ended before I had a chance to weigh in.

But I'm not going to let that stop me.

You see, both sides are telling just part of the story ... and both are simply trying to get money in their pockets.

WTVM says that most viewers watch network TV on their cable channels. Maybe so. I don't. On network TV, either the Wife and I watch House, 24, Law & Order, while the Wife watches Guiding Light and As The Word Turns. And that's it for our network TV viewing. The rest of the stuff we watch is on cable-only channels. The Shield, Monk, Psych, The Closer, Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, The 1/2 Hour News Hour, Star Trek reruns, and such.

Of course, I realize we may not be the typical viewer.

They also seemed (to me anyway) to equate their programming to other cable channels, complaining that they don't get any money from my watching WTVM on CTVEA.

Well, it would be illegal for me to put up some contraption to watch FX, USA, or TNT for free. But it's perfectly legal for me to put up a contraption (an antenna) to watch WTVM for free. So, no, they're not the same thing.

Additionally, WTVM is preventing CTVEA from carrying ABC programming via WNCF-TV in Montgomery. Now, I don't know whether or not WNCF would charge a fee, but they are being carried on 38 cable systems in 20 counties. But not in Russell County.

That's because WTVM can tell cable operators "no." And they do.

Which means they're telling CTVEA, "you can't carry any ABC channel but us, and you have to pay us; so pay up or do without ABC programming."

But to be fair, it's not just WTVM. It's all the Columbus stations. None will let CTVEA carry programming outside Columbus. And after the current contract with the other channels run out -- the last one will expire some time in 2008, I understand -- they'll all probably start demanding a fee from the cable company.

They'll all be saying, "you can't carry any network channel but us, and you have to pay us; so pay up or do without network programming."

Oh, one last thing about WTVM's response. They closed with "... remember, WTVM is always available free of charge with an antenna."

Yeah, well, if I end up getting an antenna, there's a good chance I'll point it west, toward Montgomery, instead of east, toward Columbus. Just because they've pissed me off.

Okay, I probably won't. I like the local news and sports personalities. And I do watch them. But, if I went crazy and watched ABC (rather than local) programming, I'd turn the antenna west.

Now, having said that I don't care for WTVM's role in all this, I also don't care for CTVEA's role in this.

You see, the Columbus stations aren't the only ones not allowing competition around here. Roy Greene, who owns CTVEA, has lots of influence with the local government, and is keeping other companies out.

Now, to be fair, CTVEA has improved their lineup recently. And they have improved their services. And despite the occasional rude person in the office -- you know the type -- most are actually polite and trying to be helpful.

On the other hand, they did raise their rates earlier this year.

Like I said, both parties are just out for a buck.

Which is what people are in business for, to be honest.

I don't really fault WTVM for wanting a fee to carry their programming. I just don't like their preventing another option (Montgomery ABC channel).

And I don't fault CTVEA for not wanting to pay a fee ... or even for raising their rates. I just don't like their preventing another option (Knology, MediaCom, etc).

So, I'll continue to watch CTVEA programming. But I'll still be unhappy about it all.


  1. J'taime le closuer, et mon sposa tu.
    OK that was a bad mix of "Old European" languages. Let me try that in my native language: Zboznuju The Closer, a moje zena tez!

    Alle ist klaar? You and the wife may not be altogether typical, but you've got company in Birmingham.

  2. Fair and balanced, even tho' unhappy!

  3. The cost of going to DirecTV would double our cable bill, and I'd still have to get an antenna, and would loose the "cable" ready connections to 2 of our tvs. Unfortunately, CTVEA is a better deal -- for now.

  4. RockNTheFreeWorldJune 1, 2007 at 2:58 AM

    I was very glad when I moved back to Columbus from Phenix City, not only because my daily commute got a lot shorter, but because I finally had some choice in cable. CTVEA was terrible. Service went out 3 Sundays out of 4 around 2PM and would be off for 30 minutes. The cable modems were terribly slow (where I lived they only offered half-duplex, UGH). Extended cable and my cable modem cost me almost what the full HD package and cable modem costs me here.

  5. *heh* Even here in America'sThird World County we had some choice added this year: the local telco (two exchanges--long distance between 'em, even) began offering television programming via POTS line to rival the local cable (MediaCom) offerings. Sure, it's almost 40% more for comparable content, but at least there is another choice (besides Direct TV) available, now.

    Still, since I mainly watch TV to be companionable with my Wonder Woman (ever try suffering through the Gilmore Girls? *sigh* The things we do for love... :-)), it's no big deal for me anyway.


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