For the third time in about a year, Cablevision is in a dispute with a content provider that prevents us from watching channels that we like. First, it was HGTV and The Food Channel (no big problem for me, much bigger problem for Natasha) – “blackout” lasted for about a month and was eventually lifted. Then, ABC (I rarely watch it, but Becky happens to like Wheel of Fortune) – the channel was off for only a couple of days, and came back on just as the first Oscar was awarded.
Now, it’s FOX. I can probably survive without NFL broadcasts (after all, NY Jets are mostly on CBS, and the games are spread across several channels), but the World Series, starting in a week, are exclusively on FOX. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I expect the dispute to be resolved just in time for the first pitch, but if the Yankees make it and the blackout is still on, I need to get me an air antenna.
More annoyingly, most of our current TV show favorites – House, Bones, Lie to Me, etc, – are FOX 5 shows. Our current schedule does not allow us watch them when they are first broadcast. We record them to DVR and watch them when time permits. I no longer own a VCR to record TV from an antenna.
In fact, all of the FOX shows are available online for free a week after they first air. So, in truth, we can figure out a way to stay current on our favorite series. (Whether we will without the aid of the DVR “recorded list” is another question.)
And this is what bugs me. At the heart of the dispute, apparently, are News Corp’s demands for increase in fees Cablevision would pay for the privilege of carrying the channel. Why are there fees to start with? The content is freely available over air and then online. Why are cable companies – and their customers, who obviously are being passed the cost onto, – required to pay separate fees for the content of a broadcast company?
Kinda makes me appreciate the TV license concept. Main broadcast channels cannot be off air…