Comcast High-sticks It To Viewers (1 Viewer)

cablewithaview

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Stand against retrans!!!
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Apr 18, 2005
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DeKalb County, AL
September 30, 2005 -- THANK You, Fans," my foot, there's a robbery in progress. Again. Still.

Say you're one of three million area Cablevision subscribers and you've taken the bait — you just purchased, for an extra $5 per month, a new sports package, one of absolutely no value to you except that it includes OLN, the NHL's new, Comcast-owned national cable network.

After all, OLN will have exclusive rights to eight Ranger, four Islander and two Devil games, not to mention 44 others, and then a pile of Stanley Cup games. Can't get 'em anywhere else on cable.

But, while Cablevision encouraged this purchase, it failed to provide one itsy, bitsy piece of info: Cablevision is not going to carry OLN's NHL telecasts. Comcast won't allow it. Help, police!

It wasn't enough that the NHL never made a peep as cable mobsters kept subscribers' money for an entire season of unplayed games. Now the NHL has returned with a new TV deal that seems open to interpretation.

Until further notice, Cablevision homes will be without at least seven Ranger, four Islander and two Devil telecasts. Remarkably, this NHL rights war features two cable squeeze-play monsters that also own NHL teams — the Comcast Flyers vs. the Cablevision Rangers. Thus the NHL stands to be harmed by its own.

Comcast wants to leverage its NHL rights to push OLN on other systems' basic tiers. Cablevision, practiced at that very art of bad-faith leveraging, is resisting. It wants OLN on that $5 package.

The deal with OLN resurrects the same old Cable Monster vs. Cable Monster war of similarly conflicted interests, the kind that leaves fans shutout, ripped off or both, while games are held hostage. It's the same tired tale that has replaced otherwise good doodling space in this column for 20 years.

While Ranger fans who are Cablevision subscribers stand to be hurt most, Cablevision/Rangers boss Jim Dolan, a member of the NHL Board of Governors, voted his approval of this deal. But the deal he believes he approved is not the one Comcast believes it made.

The NHL, apparently surprised by Comcast's post-deal decision to flex leverage muscles over hockey's best interests, now must scramble to resolve the dispute. And it stands to reason that in exchange for relative chump change — $54 million, less than $2 million per team — the NHL did not intend to allow Comcast to remove local team telecasts from local view.

OLN owns the exclusive to Wednesday's opener, the Cablevision Rangers at the Comcast Flyers. OLN has offered Cablevision this one "preview" game and Cablevision likely will air it on OLN.

And then, it'll be back to monopoly vs. monopoly, teams playing in the dark, another war fueled by the corporate squeeze play mentality, another war funded by fans who have no chance to win, regardless of who wins. It's as American as imported apple pie.
 

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