Friday, December 26, 2008

Cable TV Pulls The Plug

The good news is that HDTV is coming soon! The bad news, at least for some, is that HDTV is coming!

I actually have HDTV and it's truly amazing. I especially love watching sports, music concerts and nature programs in HD. The Weather Channel in HD is pretty cool too! I don't have to worry about the cable company though. I live so far out in the sticks there is NO cable TV.

HDTV requires more bandwidth though, and that's making for some interesting decisions for some local cable TV systems. In Dyersburg, they're dropping WPSD , KFVS and maybe WBBJ. In Union City, they're dropping WREG, WPTY, WMC and WTVF. Same thing in Martin, Do they HAVE to drop them? They say it's to make way for channels their viewers have asked for. Many of the viewers are saying, "no, we didn't!" Hmmmmm.

Viewers in Dyersburg seem mostly unconcerned about losing KFVS in Cape Girardeau, and WPSD in Paducah, but many are upset about losing WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Although Dyersburg (Dyer County), is in the Memphis television market, Dyersburg is closer to Jackson than Memphis. Although KFVS and WPSD are no doubt unhappy to be dropped from the Dyersburg cable system, the fact is their main audience and revenue base is in Southeast Missouri, Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois. Naturally, that's where they focus their coverage. WBBJ focuses a lot of coverage on Dyersburg. It's relatively close to Dyersburg (47 miles), even though it's not officially in their "market." According to Dyersburg's cable company, if enough viewers voice their opinion, WBBJ might stay.

Nationally, part of the situation has been brought about by the television stations themselves. It's called retransmission and the haggling is going on all over the place. Many of them are demanding payment from cable systems for carrying their signal. In some instances, this had led to playing hard ball.

In Union City, we've heard from many viewers who are upset with Charter Cable. Charter doesn't scare easily though. Unless a last minute deal is worked out, they're yanking KMOV, the CBS affiliate off cable in St. Louis. Congressman John Tanner, a Union City resident, even sent an official letter to Charter urging them to reconsider dropping the channels in his hometown. In this case, Tanner was treated like any other viewer. "Forget it." Contrary to what you might have heard, the customer is not always right, at least to some cable companies, even if he's a ranking member of Congress.

It's like my dad used to say to me at supper time when mom served up asparagus, "You'll eat it, you'll LIKE IT." Well, I might have eaten it, or at least some of it, but...

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