New Jack City: Cable TV War Erupts in Kansas City

So you woke up this morning, congratulations!

You turned on the coffeemaker, went to the bathroom and then turned on the TV for your morning fix of ABC-TV’s Good Morning America or whatever.

However if you’re a Time Warner Cable customer all you got—and are still getting at the time of this writing—is some Hallmark Channel movie fluff.

So you kicked your TV, threw the remote against the wall and bitched about the heartwarming family story being shown where GMA was to be.

What the hell is going on here?

Seems that negotiations between Time Warner and local affiliates KMBC-TV and KCWE-TV finally broke down and the the plug got pulled this morning at midnight.

Your alternatives?

Try and get the free, over the air broadcasts from the two stations. And customers of competing cable systems as well as subscribers to DirecTV and the Dish Network weren’t cut off.

To my way of thinking it’s really a game of chicken here.

Both the stations and TWC have too much to lose.

For the stations, they’re delivering their local newscasts to the metro MINUS the number one cable operator with the most home hookups in the market. Meaning that promised rating points to local advertisers can’t possible be delivered. Resulting in likely makegoods and/or cash backs.

For the cable company it’s a severe case of bad PR.

It’s one thing to lose the Speed Channel—but the local top rated ABC affiliate? That’s BAD NEWS!

If I were a gambling person I’d put my money on the possibility of both stations will be back on TWC by tonight’s prime time lineup.

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10 Responses to New Jack City: Cable TV War Erupts in Kansas City

  1. mouse says:

    People are still paying for cable TV? Might was well flush your money down the toilet.

  2. Markus Aurelius says:

    Love it. The sooner the old model of television….
    …content delivery dies and goes away the better. Despite the FCC’s best efforts to prevent otherwise, sooner than later cable subscriptions for 200 channels you don’t watch or care about and 15 channels that you do are going the way of landlines and long distance by-the-minute. Tivos and DVRs have hastened TV-on-demand so that very few people actually watch shows during their exact time of broadcast. Live sporting events and local news shows being the exception. People want to watch their shows when they want, where they want and don’t care about the rest.

    The economics of the cable subscription model no longer make sense and only currently work because (1) most content providers own multiple channel properties and need them all to be carried by the provider in order to bolster ad revenue for their garbage channels, and (2) we now have entities (like Time Warner) that are both significant content providers AND content delivery systems and make piles of money by having one artificially prop up the other.

    Time Warner has for too long been without significant, legitimate competition in the marketplace due to archaic FCC regs which vascillate with the party in power in the Oval Office and and an FCC that cannot seem to sort out how to define, or regulate, new technologies, telecommunications carriers, common carriers, ISPs, and Information Services.

    OTA broadcasts of local channels already provide a higher quality HD signal than the bit rate-shaped re-transmission doled out by TWC so if you can’t live without your fix of Larry Moore, The View, or The Bachelor you should be using an antenna anyway.

  3. harley says:

    nice article
    i once heard that each household with cable is worth $5000 when the system is sold. I have
    sure west…they’re pretty good….i also can get time warner so my bills are pretty low.
    I only watch really 10 stations….plus hd….so the rest are garbage to make me thing theres
    lots of good programming.
    all you need to see is the top show on cable and learn the facts about the audience..
    pawn stars!
    the stalemate shouldnt lat long…9 can’t miss the 1-1.2 million dollars in political coming in….

  4. chuck says:

    Time Warner is impossible to deal with.
    Just today I was trying to get a customer service on at 58th and Wornall, and after waiting on the phone for 40 minutes and realizing that the person on the phone was modestly qualified to say “Hello” much less dispense advice on sundry variables relating to said custmer’s problems, I asked for a suprvisor, and she hung up on me.

    Time Warner is layer afer layer of denial and 2nd party blame when it comes to service issues and draconian when collecting for what I consider inadequate service.

    I have 30 years of dealing with this company and hope Markus is right and things will change. Right now, it is, as it has been, a seller’s market with the sales folks laughting up their sleeves at the marks, uh…, those marks would be you and I.

    I could tell ya a hundred stories about how deceptinve TYime Warner is and maybe I will.

    Right now, I gotta go try to figure out how to keep my customer happy.

    Time Warner will NOT be any help, that I can guarantee ya.

  5. tv tooner says:

    Time Warner should tell KMBC to stuff it
    It is a game of chicken and KMBC is guaranteeing points to booked business, however they need TWC’s 35% of the market more than TWC needs them. They don’t have enough time to make up for a 30% drop in viewership.

  6. the dude says:

    I thought the FCC had rules
    on the books that required cable providers to have the basic news channels.

  7. Super Dave says:

    Sorry I would take Speed channel over KMBC any day of the week but since I don’t have TWC I could care less.

  8. jack p. says:

    question for Markus….
    Very interesting posting, Markus. There’s something though that I don’t understand. Am I correct in assuming that the FCC requires local cable systems to carry ANY locally originating station no matter how poorly it may be rated? (i.e. a metropolitan cable system MUST carry even a sorriest local jewelry sales channel whether it wants to or not—even it that means kicking off a better national cable network for the space.)
    If my assumption is correct then how can the plug be pulled O N KMBC-TV —or KMBC pull the plug on TWC over subscriber fees?

    I’d be most interested in your answer.
    Thanks, Jack P.

  9. Hearne says:

    Looks like it’s a Pro Choice issue…
    Here’s what the FCC says:

    “The Communications Act prohibits cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors from retransmitting commercial television, low power television and radio broadcast signals without first obtaining the broadcaster’s consent. This permission is commonly referred to as “retransmission consent” and may involve some compensation from the cable company to the broadcaster for the use of the signal. Alternately, local commercial and noncommercial television broadcast stations may require a cable operator that serves the same market as the broadcaster to carry its signal. A demand for carriage is commonly referred to as “must-carry.” If the broadcast station asserts its must-carry rights, the broadcaster cannot demand compensation from the cable operator. While retransmission consent and must-carry are distinct and function separately, they are related in that commercial broadcasters are required to choose once every three years, on a system-by-system basis, whether to obtain carriage or continue carriage by choosing between must carry and retransmission consent.”

    So the truth lies somewhere in between.

  10. Jack P. says:

    We’re doomed. We’re at war for crap!
    Yesterday morning I predicted in this column that the fee dispute between Hearst and Time Warner Cable would be settled by last night’s prime time. I was wrong. The Hallmark Movie Channel’s still spewing out ‘Little House…’ and ‘Walton’-like programming on the dial position where KMBC-TV should be and cowboy music crap on KCWE’s channel location.
    So much for a major free tv vs. cable pissing war.

    Not taking any sides here I still don’t quite get it. Why should a cable operator have to pay hefty per customer-deliveryt fees to commercial stations for programming that’s available free over the air? Fees similar to cable only networks like Disney’s ESPN and the AMC movie channel? It seems like double dipping by the over the air stations to me.

    And finally how can I make it without the network’s ‘Dancing With The Has-Been Stars’ or ‘Bachelorette Harlots in Heat?’

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