by Larry Murray
The news for cable and satellite operators is not good. Despite years of consumer complaints about outrageous price increases and lackluster programming, the marriage between commercial television and the cable companies is already on the rocks as recent retransmission disputes have shown. The public is now in the dating stage with streaming television, and it looks like this is a trend with a future. The story behind this conclusion is a bit complex, and I will try to give you more solid facts than you get in a sound bite. It includes a bit of history, the changing reality and a prognosis for the future with some options for you, the person who pays the bill.
Television and cable have incurred the wrath of the public for several reasons.
Greed Leading to Blackouts
Squabbles over greedy retransmission fees that television networks and producers charge – as providers of cable content – have resulted in blackouts that have lasted for weeks. Nothing like paying the monthly bill and then finding out you can’t see your favorite program. This year so far, there have already been blackouts in 80 markets, putting cable and satellite companies on a path to beat last year’s count of blackouts in 91 markets, according to the American Television Alliance, which tracks such disputes. And every time the cable and satellite operators cave to higher fees, your rates go up. Sports and regular network programming eat up most of the income, even if you are not watching them. Doesn’t inspire confidence, does it?