Cablevision customers won't be missing any baseball today as the Phillies and Giants take the day off and travel back to Philadelphia. Six Fox channels were pulled off of Cablevision while the two companies try to negotiate a new carriage agreement.
At this point, the prospect of the World Series being available to everyone in the nation except 3 million Cablevision customers in Metro New York is growing ominously more real. The dispute between Cablevision and Fox raises the question of whether a company has a public interest responsibility when they secure exclusive rights to such an important event.
There is no question in my mind that Fox indeed has a corporate responsibility to refrain from withholding such an important event from consumers while they battle a distributor over money. They should do the right thing and simply call a cease fire during the week of the World Series and return the channel carrying the games to Cablevision customers.
If they don't, they simply prove that Congress should consider these types of exclusive rights, to be monopoly power in the marketplace. And monopolies by their very nature, require some level of government oversight to ensure that consumers are not being harmed.
Meanwhile, "Insight Customer in Louisville" posted a comment on this blog asking why I'm spending so much time on this subject:
Two reasons. First, this blog is written to discuss the cable industry, not just Insight. But, more importantly, this issue absolutely does affect Insight. The spiraling cost of programming is a serious challenge for all distributors and, in the end, it affects every cable and satellite customer in the rising rates for basic and classic video services.
Although we have not had any channels pulled off our systems by a programmer in many years, it's a prospect that looms during every contract renewal with broadcasters and programmers. And, for the most part, their demands are becoming more and more unacceptable making the liklihood of it happening more real than it's been in a decade.