Monday, March 8, 2010

ABC Cablevision Deal Struck Too Late

Approximately 13 minutes after the start of the Oscar telecast at 8:30pm ET, a crawl came across WABC that the deal with Cablevision was struck and that the signal was restored. Unfortunately for viewers, that announcement came almost three hours too late. Those that watch the awards show most likely made their plans prior to 6pm what they would do: buy an antenna, go to a friend's house, install a dish, or switch to FIOS. It is hard to imagine that Cablevision viewers were switching from their other show to WABC to see if it was back on. Can't see the Oscars; some may have left their home and gone to the movies to watch a nominated film or stayed home and rented one for the night.

And while publicly both sides will say that relationships between the two companies has returned to normal, I bet that lingering feelings remain. I would guess that one side will see it as a win-lose deal and will remember the next time. Interesting too that the FCC did not formally get involved.

And how does the repercussions of this deal affect the NBC Comcast merger plans? What happens when it is NBC's turn to negotiate with Cablevision, or FIOS? How can a deal be fairly struck when the potential NBC owner is another cable operator. I see that as a major problem, especially when it involves negotiations for a broadcast channel. And while that negotiation already occurs for cable networks, a broadcast network represents the majority of viewing across the country and should prescribe to different rules. Too much vertical ownership poses a major problem that the FCC must clearly address in the NBC Comcast merger discussion.

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