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Companies Throw Support Behind Cablevision's Viacom Suit
System 'Completely Broken,' Insists DirecTV
by Karl Bode 02:24PM Thursday Feb 28 2013
Numerous pay TV companies have thrown their support behind Cablevision, who earlier this week sued Viacom, claiming the company violates antitrust law by forcing cable TV companies to buy channels in bundles. Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and others all issued statements supporting Cablevision. "There's no question that the current all-or-nothing system dictated by programmers is completely broken," insisted DirecTV in a statement -- while Mediacom insisted forced bundling is "hurting consumers." Comcast, who now owns all of NBC after arguing such massive vertical integration isn't a problem for the end user, is remaining silent on the issue for obvious reasons.

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OwlSaver
OwlSaver
Premium
join:2005-01-30
Berwyn, PA

Ruling

I want to see the ruling that says in effect:

Cablevision, you are correct, this is clearly illegal. And oh, by the way, you cannot force your customers to bundle either.

That would be a great result.

fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

Re: Ruling

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

What we could also have is,

Courts: "ok guys, bundling is illegal"
Cable companies: Fuckin' A!"
Networks: "Ok guys, $10 per channel, but you get a discount if you bundle."

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: Ruling

It won't be $10/channel. However, I would fully expect the price for the main channels (at least Comedy Central, MTV, Nick) to be about the same price as what they are currently paying. So if cablecos pay $3/sub for the 11 or so different channel brands, I'd expect Comedy Central, MTV, and Nick to each be a $1/subscriber, with the other channels costing a fraction of that, say $.10/channel. In the end, Viacom gets richer and cable companies just pass on the increase in a more frequent quarterly price increase.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: Ruling

If they stayed the same price, a large number of junkish channels would die off. That would probably be a good thing. I'd envision the price being at least double what they are now per channel, but if you could drop 90-95% of the channels...

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: Ruling

said by BiggA:

If they stayed the same price, a large number of junkish channels would die off.

So if you're paying the same price, why wold you want LESS channels? The only way that this works out for the consumer is if there is NO chance they want to watch the other channels, and the a la carte price for the channels that they do want is less than whatever the going rate is for the bundled channels.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: Ruling

No, I said if they stayed the same price PER CHANNEL, then a lot would die off, and the overall bills would go way down. What I'm concerned is that the price would go way UP PER CHANNEL in order to make up for lost revenue, although I think in that model, people would end up dumping a lot of channels, and only a relatively few strong channels would survive.

Something is going to happen in the multichannel video market, as the current system isn't working. What exactly that is isn't clear yet.
tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
·Speakeasy
Like the forced bundling of local channels..

My outdoor HDTV antenna design works perfectly for my area.

Advantage, I receive all the locals from two DMA's using one of these antennas. I just wish I could unbundle the high cost locals from my SAT package. (same goes for Cable/ATT/Verizon)

Additionally... I would also require that Sat/Cable co's breakout the monthly rental cost of all equipment.. (I own all my SAT hardware and don't think it's fair I should pay the same price as leasers.)
Happydude32
Premium
join:2005-07-16
kudos:1

Re: Ruling

said by tkdslr:

Like the forced bundling of local channels..

My outdoor HDTV antenna design works perfectly for my area.

Advantage, I receive all the locals from two DMA's using one of these antennas. I just wish I could unbundle the high cost locals from my SAT package. (same goes for Cable/ATT/Verizon)

Additionally... I would also require that Sat/Cable co's breakout the monthly rental cost of all equipment.. (I own all my SAT hardware and don't think it's fair I should pay the same price as leasers.)

Why exactly do you need locals from 2 DMAs? All key programming will be the same. I subscribe to both DirecTV and Time Warner Cable. With Time Warner I get my own locals, with DirecTV I ‘moved’ one market over. My excuse for wanting access to two markets if because three days a week for work I’m in the other market, and like to keep up on their local news, but I found myself not even watching it much. 95% of my TV viewing is on the cable channels. Aside from CBS and FOX and Sunday Night Football on NBC, I have no use for any other over the air network and I forget the others even exist most of the time. The only other excuse I could possibly have for wanting access to more than one DMA is NFL related, but I think this past season I counted a whole two instance where the games being shown in Buffalo and Rochester were different. And since I have NFL Sunday Ticket, I really did care anyway.

I know you’re not doing what I’m about to describe, but I crack up when brag how they receive 53 channels for FREE with their antenna. When the majority of the channels are shopping, religious, Spanish and the same network from multiple DMA in which all key content is identical. Plus with all those stupid subchannels that just leach bandwidth off of the main feed.
--
Dale Jr, Riding Daddys Coattails Since February 18, 2001!
tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL

Re: Ruling

Outside of prime time(8pm to 11pm EST).. the programming often has significant differences between affiliates of the same network.
Happydude32
Premium
join:2005-07-16
kudos:1

Re: Ruling

Like what exactly? 5-6:30PM is typically local news that repeats the same stories over and over. 6:30-7:00 is national news. 7-8PM is Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and the ET type shows. 8-11PM is primetime. 11-11:30 is local news the repeats the same crap you heard at 5. From 11:30-12:30 you have those lame late night shows that are supposed to be funny. Then you have a few hours of infomercials that lead into the early morning national news, that leads in early morning local news that leads into more national news shows like Today and Good Morning America and by that time you’re looking at 9 AM. Then it’s time for a few game shows and talk shows that lead into the local news at noon. After that a few soap operas, or what’s left of them. Then a few nonsensical shows like The Doctor’s and before you know it we’re back to the 5 o’clock news. That right there is the Monday-Friday schedule for ABC, NBC and CBS in pretty much every single one of the 210 DMAs in this country. For the weekends, add some sports with a lot of infomercials, kiddie shows on Saturday morning and talking head news shows on Sunday morning.

A little bit of the above applies to Fox, The CW and whatever the hell MyNetwork TV is supposed to be. Only add in a bunch of syndicated reruns of Two and a Half Men, The Simpson’s, Big Bang Theory and a few others and a bunch of judge shows.

What are some significant differences between locals from two adjacent DMAs? And no, I don’t mean the ABC affiliate in one market has Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy while the CBS affiliate carries those shows in the other market.

This is the reason why OTA TV is useless. So much wasted spectrum out there, do we really need 210 ABC stations showing The View, and 210 CBS stations showing The Talk, or can we just get rid of OTA TV altogether and use that spectrum for something more useful. Make ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and CW national cable networks and get rid of the outdated affiliate system.
--
Dale Jr, Riding Daddys Coattails Since February 18, 2001!
nfotiu

join:2009-01-25
There is enough competion now that unbundling at the content provider level would allow for unbundling of some sort at the consumer level.

Technology is not an obstacle any more. If unbundling was forced on content owners, I'd guess we'd see providers offer all of the no/low carriage fee channels at a decent enough price and allow us to choose which high carriage fee channels we want.

Who cares if they bundle all the cheap/free channels, the networks can make their revenue off of ads? Just allow us to pick and choose which expensive channels we want.

$7 ESPN needs to be treated the same as HBO. There is an absolute floor on what the MSOs can charge for a basic package when they are forced to have every subscriber paying over $20 for sports networks. The backend bundling is what is screwing us right now.
dfxmatt

join:2007-08-21
Evanston, IL

Re: Ruling

the irony is that if companies like HBO weren't so stupid, people would be falling over themselves to have HBO content.

$10/mo just for HBO by itself, via streaming and commercial free? I'd pay for that in an instant.
Crookshanks

join:2008-02-04
Binghamton, NY
said by OwlSaver:

Cablevision, you are correct, this is clearly illegal. And oh, by the way, you cannot force your customers to bundle either.

You do understand that the "forced" bundling of channels is a technical requirement of analog cable systems, right? The cable company can trap out blocks of channels if you decline to pay for them, but it's not very feasible from a technical or administrative standpoint to trap out individual channels in an a la carte service model.

A purely digital cable plant would solve this problem, but then you'll have people bitching about the fact they need a CableCARD or set top box for each of the twenty TVs they have scattered about the house.
TheRogueX

join:2003-03-26
Springfield, MO

Re: Ruling

...but we should already be purely digital. I know Mediacom has transitioned my town to it. You have to have the little digital converter box for any TV you want any channels on.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH
Well, it's vestigial then in an all-digital world as of the last couple of years (and one that's been all-digital on DirecTV since 1994).

FYI, in case you've been living under a rock, most cable systems in the US are all digital. TWC was one of the first, now Comcast and Verizon are, and I think others are as well.
MURICA

join:2013-01-03

I don't like this

Hopefully Cablevision loses.

If cable companies get to drop low rated channels then the cable landscape will become even more of a cesspool than it already is.

Right now all the intelligent channels get lower ratings than the dung at the top. Smithsonian Channel, H2, Science, Ovation, etc. could never survive in an ala carte landscape.

Palladia is the best channel in Viacom's lineup so it doesn't surprise me that it gets lower ratings than the cesspool that is MTV.

Here's a sampling of the top 15 rated shows on cable:

quote:
Rank Shows Net Day Time Viewers Live +SD (000)
1 WWE Entertainment USA Mon 09:00P-10:00P 5267
2 Pawn Stars HIST Mon 10:00P-10:31P 5002
3 Pawn Stars HIST Mon 10:31P-11:02P 4949
4 WWE Entertainment USA Mon 10:00P-11:10P 4927
5 WWE Entertainment USA Mon 08:00P-09:00P 4863
6 Gold Rush DISC Fri 09:00P-10:06P 4698
7 American Pickers HIST Mon 09:00P-10:00P 4609
8 COLLEGE BKBL REG SSN L ESPN Sat 08:55P-11:09P 4035
9 Big Bang Theory, THE TBSC Sat 10:00P-10:30P 3976
10 SpongeBob NICK Sat 10:00A-10:30A 3908
11 Moonshiners DISC Wed 10:00P-11:00P 3874
12 Big Bang Theory, THE TBSC Sat 10:30P-11:00P 3857
13 JESSIE DSNY Fri 08:30P-09:00P 3838
14 Phineas and Ferb DSNY Fri 09:00P-09:15P 3765
15 SpongeBob NICK Sat 10:30A-11:00A 3710

When the ala carte effort finally succeeds all the dumbasses will only subscribe to Disney, Nick, TBS, ESPN, History, Discovery and USA and they will all cost $10 each per month. We will be left with a wasteland of programming.

Right now the morons are being forced to subsidize intelligent programming and that's a good thing.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: I don't like this

If cable companies get to drop low rated channels then the cable landscape will become even more of a cesspool than it already is.

Right now all the intelligent channels get lower ratings than the dung at the top. Smithsonian Channel, H2, Science, Ovation, etc. could never survive in an ala carte landscape.

They're already being dropped in the current landscape without a la carte. Ovation was dumped by several providers last month.
MURICA

join:2013-01-03

Re: I don't like this

That's because Ovation didn't have the protection of a conglomerate. Palladia does.

Smithsonian, H2, and Science are protected by CBS, Disney/A&E, and Discovery Communications.
zed260
Premium
join:2011-11-11
Cleveland, TN
those intelligent channels h2 Science discovery etc are some of the few channels id keep heck if not for those channels id not have cable tv right now

supernac

join:2003-03-26
Springfield, MO

Re: I don't like this

+1
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
So be it. If the channel can't survive on it's own merit and quality programming than it shouldnt be there.

ALL shows that have a following strong enough will eventually end up on a channel somewhere. Those that dont should go away.
SunnyD

join:2009-03-20
Madison, AL

All-or-nothing system is broken because they let it be.

This is yet another case of wanting your cake and having it too. As much as I agree as a consumer that prices are getting out of hand, as content providers just keep jacking up rates with these "negotiations" and bundles...

Why not just drop them (Viacom, et al)? If you (Cablevision, DirecTV, Mediacom, etc) keep paying them, they will just keep cramming crap down your throats and jacking up the prices.

Oh yeah... because they're the ones that have the content that you require in order to make a business for yourselves in the first place!

So what's going to happen? Well, you're a business too. You're going to fight this case "for the consumer", maybe you'll win too. Yay, your cost of business all of a sudden goes down! The consumers win! Right? Right...?

No, the consumers get the exact same pricing, maybe even a little price hike in the name of recouping the "expenses" of fighting the epic battle in their name, while the profits shift from the coffers of companies like Viacom to the coffers of companies like Cablevision instead.

The long and the short of it is in the end the people that are supposed to be winning here (the consumers) end up with even less than they had before, and probably end up paying more for it.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: All-or-nothing system is broken because they let it be.

In a monopoly environment yes, but being that Sat competes with cable in pretty much every single market you really have 3 options if not 4 (TelcoTV).

So, they will compete on price of the channels, the uniqueness of bundles they create, and their service in general.

No longer will it be all of them offering all the channels and bundles because they are required to. Thus only making their service the unique thing and provided that you have TV and your bill isnt jacked up, service means little to people until there is a problem.
big_e

join:2011-03-05

ESPN, Big Ten, NFL network, and RSN's need to be a la carte

The high cost of sports programming is costing CATV/SAT subscribers many dollars per month. Its bad enough that my tax dollars are being used to subsidize stadiums for professional sports teams. For most TV programming packages you also have to pay the ESPN tax.
Happydude32
Premium
join:2005-07-16
kudos:1

Re: ESPN, Big Ten, NFL network, and RSN's need to be a la carte

said by big_e:

The high cost of sports programming is costing CATV/SAT subscribers many dollars per month. Its bad enough that my tax dollars are being used to subsidize stadiums for professional sports teams. For most TV programming packages you also have to pay the ESPN tax.

And if there were no taxpayer subsidies and your local teams relocated to a different market think of all the negative impact on your local economy. Think of all the jobs a professional sports team bring in that aren’t related to players, coaches and the front office. You’ve got the concession stands, venue security, parking lot attendants, ticket takers, the box office, janitorial/sanitation, buildings and grounds, local media personal who follow the team and many more all who would be unemployed. Not to mention the bar and restaurant subsection of the food service industry that thrives when all the flat screens are showing the local team. Yeah your local Chili’s and Applebees would survive a team moving a way, business may be down and they might have to cut a waitress or two who use that as a second job as a way to pay for college or a single mom trying to make ends meet, but Joe’s Corner Tavern probably wouldn’t.

Every action, measure and every last resort should be taken to make sure a team does not relocate and that includes tax payer subsidies. I’m pissed about our NBA team leaving town in the 70s and that happened like 8 years before I was even born. Go Clippers!
--
Dale Jr, Riding Daddys Coattails Since February 18, 2001!

Eddy120876

join:2009-02-16
Bronx, NY

Re: ESPN, Big Ten, NFL network, and RSN's need to be a la carte

ssssh please don't hit this fools with knowledge about how a team works. they think sports packages are bad yet year after year they keep getting more revenue but hey let then scream "I don't need sports " until it hits then when it really hurts....their wallets.
nfotiu

join:2009-01-25
I'm a sports fan, but numerous studies have shown that public spending on sports provides the least economic benefit to local economy vs just about any other spending. Most of the money ends up going to players who don't even play there. And the money that people would spend at games would be spent on things that more helped the local economy.

Forcing everyone to subsidize RSNs and ESPN really just inflates player salaries. You have to look no further than the LA Dodgers for a great example.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

I love how people think they will save money.

Do you honestly think that channel you like to watch now that cost your TV provider 50 cents per sub will still be 50 cents per sub in an ala carte system. Heck it might not exist at all. Unless you literally like less than a half dozen channels you aren't going to save.
TheRogueX

join:2003-03-26
Springfield, MO

Re: I love how people think they will save money.

I like maybe half a dozen channels. Seriously. Network TV I can get OTA. The only other channels I ever watch are History, Discovery, SyFy. My girlfriend likes HGTV. Yeah, we could survive with just that, maybe a couple more.

Namida

@cox.net

Re: I love how people think they will save money.

I pulled the plug 3 years ago. I kept the internet, but no-longer pay $120 for the TV service, when all I really watched was History, Discovery, SyFy, girlfriend liked Cooking channel. I would like a proper news channel like CNN of years ago, that goes around the world and reports news, instead of the opinions, and editorials that push an inflammatory ideology, for massive advertisement money...

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness
said by TheRogueX:

I like maybe half a dozen channels. Seriously. Network TV I can get OTA. The only other channels I ever watch are History, Discovery, SyFy. My girlfriend likes HGTV. Yeah, we could survive with just that, maybe a couple more.

I believe most of those shows are available via Amazon so you could get rid of cable now.
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2
Do you think the content providers aren't going to do the exact same thing if Cablevision wins? It is impossible for the cable companies to look good here... they are trying to play both sides of the same coin and whining because someone won't cooperate.

••••

exVZtech

@optonline.net

What a good laugh

This is funny since I had a CV tech at my residence about 6 weeks ago. I was having a problem with STB in one of the rooms so the tech changed out all the boxes in the house. He also noted that we had a change in our service so he left a new channel line up. I said it is a damn shame CV could not sell the channels my family and I watch. He said it was technically possible on the digital system. The CV tech admitted the content providers were holding CV back from this.

Truth is people would pay for ESPN like they do for HBO, Showtime, and the other movie channels. The messed thing is CV created a surcharge to carry the regional sports networks.

Unfortunately, the cable bill would not go down and if it did, it would be temporary. All I see out of this is another increase in my bill to finance the legal battle. The other thing, I cannot convince my wife for the cancelling of the the Video portion of our package. He response is we should drop the internet tier. ($15 vs $75. Am I missing something here. ) I am fine with Data and Voice. Netflix and Amazon do a good job with the rest. For another kick in the nuts, CV is pretty much the only provider in my area. Only a 1/3 of the town has FIOS so I, the consumer, lose out on the increased competition and the option to change providers.