Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Programming ain’t free, no matter how much you want to dream it ought to be

Could the Chicago Cubs become the determining factor in the ongoing dispute between Tribune Co. television stations and DirecTV?

I honestly wonder if the idea of rabid Cubs fans angry that they can’t get their favorite ballclub’s Opening Day game Thursday against the Washington Nationals on television will be enough to scare the sides together into reaching an agreement.

LET’S BE HONEST. Chicago Cubs fans are not a rational breed to begin with. Who’s to say what they’re capable of doing if they’re denied the chance to see a game!

As for Chicago White Sox fans, their home opener isn’t for another week. Besides, the team’s games have shifted to other stations so heavily that a loss of access to WGN-TV won’t have as much of an impact as it would for Cubs’ ballgame broadcasts.

Are the television producer and distributor types anxiously trying to figure out a solution to their dispute – which caused the loss of Tribune Co.-owned television stations on DirecTV all across the country as of Sunday. On Monday, the fight escalated with a complaint filed with the FCC by DirecTV against Tribune.

Or are the two sides being juvenile and giving each other their best attempt at the “Evil Eye” to try to get the other side to break? My gut instinct (I don’t have any inside info) is that the latter is more likely.

WHICH IS WHY this is about greed on both sides – even though from what I can detect from reading assorted website comment sections, most people are all-too-eager to blame Mother Tribune for this.

Which isn’t the most rational of thoughts.

Because I actually find myself being disgusted with DirecTV, even though in the interest of disclosure I must say that I have no stake in this issue (I still rely on Comcast to have access to all the channels, which means I’m still getting WGN and the other channels impacted by this move).

This is a matter related to the fees that companies like Comcast or DirecTV pay to the television stations to include their programming amongst their offerings. Although after reading the anonymous Internet commenters, you’d think it was the TV stations paying DirecTV to have themselves included amongst those lineups of hundreds of television stations (many of which we don’t watch).

IN THIS PARTICULAR dispute, Tribune thinks its programming is worth a larger fee. DirecTV thinks it is paying too much already, and likely thinks that having to pay a higher fee will cut into their profit margin.

They’re following that old business adage, “Why pay more than you have to?”
Then again, that is the same attitude that many websites use – they think they’re entitled to use copy as their content for free. What’s going to happen to them when, someday, there is nothing for them to feed off of?

Which is the same mentality that ought to prevail on this issue.

WHAT DO THESE distributors think they’re going to be broadcasting over their systems if there aren’t any channels producing programming for them to carry?

I’m wondering where people think that such shows as “American Idol” and “Glee,” along with those baseball clubs that use Tribune Co. stations to broadcast their games, actually come from?

I always wonder when people will realize that their “entertainment” isn’t free, even if you did pay a significant fee for your television and another charge for the distributor.

That’s just for the connection. The programming is a different matter. Then again, I have always been the type who believed that the television should be free, and your ability to watch anything on it ought to be based on what you’re willing to pay.

THAT MIGHT BE a lesson that television viewers (at least those who rely on DirecTV) will learn in coming days.

And as for the dispute that is wrecking the viewing habits of some individuals, a part of me wants to tell them to go read a book, or go for a walk or do something else with their lives.

Heck, as for those Cubs fans, maybe you should go to the game on Thursday if it is so important to you to see the Nationals start out their season with a victory. For what it’s worth, StubHub.com indicated they still had about 2,000 seats available for that game.

And you’ll even get a refrigerator magnet schedule for the 2012 Cubs season.


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