Given all that’s happening with the U.S. economy, it seems petty to complain about missing a couple of football games in high-definition over the weekend. However, an on-going dispute between my cable provider and the owner of the Indianapolis CBS affiliate has reduced me to doing just that.
The Indianapolis-area cable provider, Bright House, cannot carry the station WISH-TV or CBS programming without retransmission consent from corporate owner, LIN TV Corp. That consent expired at 11:59 p.m., October 2, leaving about 125,000 customers, like me, without the station or its other stations in Indianapolis, WNDY, WIIH, and LWS. Bright House is operated by Time Warner, which is embroiled in a dispute with LIN TV involving all of LIN’s stations nationwide.
Initially the loss of CBS was not a huge deal to me. I don’t watch Letterman much anymore and most of my primetime viewing is done either on MSNBC or Comedy Central–this being the final month of the presidential campaign and all. When the weekend rolled around, though, my attitude changed completely. I could no longer watch CBS Sports college football, including my alma mater Georgia, or even the Indianapolis Colts games on Sunday… in Indianapolis!
Jeff White, WISH general manager, told local Indianapolis media that WISH and other LIN TV stations are asking for less than a penny a day, per station, per subscriber from Bright House and Time Warner Cable. Local television stations customarily get compensation from cable companies.
White said LIN had been negotiating with Bright House for several months in hopes of reaching an agreement.
“Our offer is very reasonable of what we’re looking for,” White said. “I don’t think there’s any reason to pass anything on to the consumer.”
Buz Nesbit, president of Bright House Networks Indiana, added his side of the story: “I’m extremely shocked and disappointed that LIN … would take this opportunity to remove their signal from our customers. I’m assuming they had to reduce the revenue to their clients because they lost a lot of eyeballs today.”
“We were hopeful that a fair and amicable agreement would have been reached,” read a statement from Buz Nesbit, president of Bright House Networks Indiana. “We would gladly agree to reasonable terms that protect our subscribers from unfair rate increases.”
Frankly, I cannot believe that this dispute is still unresolved. During the first weekend I used the situation as motivation for working in the yard, listening to the radio as the Colts pulled off an unlikely win. This past weekend, unwilling to invest in rabbit ears for my plasma, I dug my mini black-and-white TV (literally 4×3 inches!) out of the basement and tuned the single antenna to the local broadcasts of the Bulldogs on Saturday and Colts on Sunday.
I think I need a new prescription for my eyeglasses after those two “squinty” afternoons. Well, maybe not, but I know for sure that I’m signing a new contract for my TV service. Goodbye, Bright House… Hello, AT&T Uverse. As they say on TV, “Stay tuned.”