Man do I feel sorry for metro Austinites. At the beginning of 2008, I wrote about how Suddenlink Cable was going at it with KXAN's owner LIN TV and KXAN went dark on New Year's Eve. It started with my writing to them asking when they planned on getting NBC in High Def, it ended with Suddenlink airing an NBC affiliate out of Waco (which is about 90 minutes away.) Eventually Suddenlink and KXAN were reunited.
I'm not saying I was integral to what happened - I am but a small voice in a small city. I enjoyed a few emails from both parties but so would any customer who took the time to complain. I haven't read back on the posts I'd written, so let's just assume they were filled with golden and flakey civility.
Which made me laugh just a little bit when I saw a public service announcement saying that Time Warner and KXAN were having the same issue. Far be it from humble little consumer to point fingers or call names or throw flaming hot rocks in my sugar-glass house but reading the ins and outs of the situation was like going back in time. Here it is in a nutshell. KXAN thinks it's worth more, its parent company LIN TV goes to Time Warner and says, "Pay us cash for fair market value." Time Warner says, "We'll keep paying you what we're paying plus we'll increase some ad placement." (If they went that far at all, doesn't look like they came back with much.) LIN TV says they'll play hardball and KXAN is pulled from Time Warner. If all goes according to history, that will last a couple days until Time Warner picks up either a close affiliate or the two sides agree.
So it got me thinking, does KXAN really think it's not getting its value in the Austin market? Is it just the Austin market? I read originally that Suddenlink and LIN were also having a problem with a CBS station in New Mexico, so it's not just NBC stations. I honestly haven't read a lot of cable/broadcast TV business news, but having the only two instances I've seen in my city include the same owners, I'm wondering if there's something with LIN TV - something like...I don't know, delusional greed?
I'm sure that's not the case, but I'd like to reiterate that putting out ads for your customers saying the stations owners and the cable owners can't agree and you as the customer should call and complain is like your divorced parents telling you they don't like the settlement the court gave them and if you don't want your allowance cut you should contact the other parent. Getting customers in the way of a money/power struggle between broadcast companies is a shitty way of doing business. You want our input? You want our help? Bring in a la carte packages.