RealClearPolitics Media Watch

« The Demise of Satellite Radio? | Media Watch Home Page | Fox News No. 1 - Seven Years Running »

Why Do People Still Watch Cable?

Millions of kids would've woken up to 2009 missing Dora, Diego and SpongeBob. And their parents? No Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Chocolate News or South Park.

Whew, crisis averted.

While the rest of the world celebrated the new year, negotiators at Time Warner Cable and Viacom cut a deal in the opening hours of 2009 to avert a blackout that would have affected nearly 16 million households. A total of 19 channels, including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon would've been blacked out because of a dispute over increased subscriber fees.

This wasn't the first time that Time Warner, or cable companies, have had such a nasty public dispute with their programming partners. Between Comcast and Time Warner, the nation's two largest cable carriers, there have been no fewer than a dozen fights with various local affiliates and cable networks over just the last two years.

The most public of the cable fights involved the NFL Network, which currently is not being seen on most of the cable carriers. The powerful National Football League ultimately could not leverage its popularity against the cable behemoths. Most of the other disputes also ended in the cable company's favor, until Viacom came along and stared down Time Warner.

Sometimes I just wonder why people continue to live under the tyranny of cable. Besides the frequent games of brinksmanship, cable companies, particularly Comcast, are legendary in their atrocious customer service - just ask the elderly lady Mona Shaw, who last year literally hammered Comcast after being given one last run-around.

In 1996, fed up with cable, I signed up with a fledgling outfit for my television needs. It was a novel concept at the time but over the next decade-plus, it's proved to be one shrewd move. I've relocated more than a dozen times since then, but everywhere I went, I always had my DirecTV.

Don't take my word for it, ask Beyonce.