Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Time Warner defies "must carry" rule

The Bush regime can raid trillions of dollars from the Social Security trust fund to pay for an illegal war, and nobody notices. But when a cable company takes everybody's TV access away, you can be damn sure people notice!

Time Warner Cable - which has a monopoly on cable TV in most of the Cincinnati area - has refused to carry Channel 5 in recent days because of a compensation dispute. In doing so, Time Warner is violating the FCC's "must carry" regulations that require cable companies to carry local over-the-air stations. No exceptions to "must carry" apply to Channel 5, the local NBC affiliate.

In theory, you can just hook up an antenna to receive Channel 5 instead of getting it on cable. But with digital TV, the over-the-air signal now barely covers the central city, let alone surrounding counties. That's one of the beauties of "must carry" that makes it so important to the viewing public.

Time Warner has replaced Channel 5 with the NBC affiliate in (of all places) Terre Haute, Indiana. That was the wrong fight to pick, because now the Terre Haute station is after Time Warner for not getting consent to carry the station outside its home market.

Meanwhile, the Campbell County Cable Board is negotiating with Time Warner to extend its monopoly. With county officials being as spineless as they are lately, I don't expect them to hold Time Warner accountable for this debacle. The county needs to either get a better cable company or allow competition. The right-wing brain trust is always talking about the "free market", but they won't even permit competition in the cable TV business, opting instead to grant monopolies to single corporations.

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