Cable and satellite tv broadcasting dispute may cost you

Do cable and satellite customers have a constitutional right to be able to watch every minute of every show that they want to see? It may not actually be true — but it seems we do considering how much energy media companies and government officials are devoting to this matter.

Everyone is still shaken by what happened on March 7, a day that will live in TV infamy. Dm04 digital satellite tv box That’s when a subset of Cablevision’s three million customers who wanted to watch the Academy Awards broadcast at home couldn’t do so for about 15 minutes. ABC withheld its programming in a hardball contract dispute with the cable company.

Free satellite tv guide The network and other broadcasters — reeling from the soft ad market — want companies that redistribute their shows to begin paying them a cash fee. Dish tv antenna installation instructions Cable and satellite companies, which are accustomed to paying for cable channels, want to keep the new fees as low as possible.

There may be similar showdowns in August, when ABC’s contract with Time Warner Cable expires, and in October when Fox must renew its program carriage deals with Cablevision and Dish Network.

The cable companies, which typically say they hate government regulation, didn’t miss a beat before asking the Federal Communications Commission to step in. Satellite tv tuner software They want the feds to require TV stations to keep supplying shows to cable and satellite services even when contract talks reach an impasse.

The new CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Gordon Smith, saw that as an opportunity to channel his inner Bob Hope this week when he addressed the trade group’s annual convention.

“Can you believe this?” he said. Direct tv antenna installation “Cable representatives are now trying to position themselves as consumer friendly on Capitol Hill. Watch satellite tv online free That’s right — the cable guy as the consumer advocate! Folks, you just can’t make this stuff up.”

But FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski later told the industry audience that he’s “concerned about sudden program interruptions, and about the potential for rising cable rates.” He promised to come up with rules that are “fair to consumers, as well as each of the businesses involved.”

What’s at stake? ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox would add $4.5 billion a year to cable and satellite company programming costs if the networks’ local stations demanded $1 a month for everyone who watches their shows through a wire or from a dish, Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett says in a report out this morning.

And the impact on consumers would be far greater if cable and satellite companies applied their usual mark-up. Cable or dish tv “In other words,” Moffett writes, “$1 of content is resold to consumers at about $2.50 to cover other operating expenses and earn a profit.”

He adds that “the system is being stretched untenably” and that a la carte pricing — where customers just pay for the channels they want — “is now increasingly being whispered.”

In a report last week, Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker said that network-owned stations likely will just get about 50 cents a month for each cable and satellite customer by 2012. Sony dvb s2 satellite tv tuner Independently owned network affiliates will get 30 cents. Free satellite tv channels receiver Prices will go up in subsequent negotiations.

As a result, stations may collect $2.3 billion in 2012 and $4.6 billion in 2017.

At least attention is being paid to the concerns of consumers who can’t go without seeing their favorite shows. Satellite tv for your pc gratis If the government responds this quickly to the threat of a short programming black out, just imagine what officials would do if customers occasionally lost cable service entirely — and had to wait days for a service call.

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