If Jack Bauer’s not on, who cares

Posted October 21st, 2010 in cable television, Cablevision, FOX and tagged , , , , by Alton Drew

Back in my slightly younger days at the Florida Public Service Commission, my dear friend, Frank Oguike, had a saying: “Sometimes America needs to take a break.” So, Cablevision can’t get FOX to cough up a channel because of a dispute over programming fees, and people are missing baseball. Well, if we love the Yankees that much, we’d do it the old fashioned way and listen to the game on the radio.

There are probably a few wives who don’t mind that their husbands have one less distraction. Imagine, instead of being glued to the TV set, a married couple practices the alternative of listening to the game while washing the dishes together or while helping little Frankie and Betty do homework. Wow. Alternatives.

You’d figure that a group with the word, “press”, in its name would be pushing the idea of reading a book or at least a Kindle, but that would be asking too much. Instead, the Free Press posse is encouraging Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, to draft legislation that would require (you guessed it) more disclosure. In this instance, Free Press would like Cablevision to disclose the costs and rates for each channel.

It’s no wonder I can’t grow an afro anymore when I have to read about these types of policies. The type of information that Free Press would like the Congress to waste its time considering is already provided for basic cable company programming as well as equipment charges. This information is publicly available at the offices of any local franchising authority. All citizens have to do is take a lunch break and go read it.

But that’s the problem. Unless you are a geek like me (and yes, I admit having done this while living in Tallahassee), you aren’t interested in reviewing how a cable company came up with rates. Besides, neither the Federal Communications Commission nor local franchise authorities would like to clue the public in on their complicity in the outrageous cable bills we already pay, including the calculation of the dreaded franchise fee; a five percent fee by law that is in actuality a ten percent tax.

There is already an alternative for giving consumers relief on rates. The consumer, in most franchise agreements, is given a credit for lost service. A local ordinance amending New York’s franchise agreement that would specify how much a credit would be for partial loss of service would be appropriate and faster to implement.

Besides, Congress has already said hands off on rate regulation of upper tier programming. In short, Kerry and company would be opening a can of worms that the citizens of the Big Apple would rather do without.

Oh well. I’m feeling Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and that empire state of mind.