Monday, August 5, 2013

Time Warner Customers: Demand Your Rebate!


I find it somewhat interesting that Time Warner Cable has now axed all of its CBS affiliate stations in key municipalities.  According to them, the programming is not there because of the excessive demands being made by the network for re-broadcasting fees.  But the network executives beg to differ, claiming that it's Time Warner which is being unfair by demanding rates that would undermine the network's profitability anyway.  On both sides, editorials are being broadcast which preach their side of the argument.  As is usually the case with entertainment executives, both sides are wrong.

Oddly, here in Milwaukee, it is the NBC affiliate, WTMJ Channel 4, which is the odd one out. It's out for the same reason the CBS stations are out in other markets.  In those areas, like New York or L.A., CBS is the top market. In Milwaukee, WTMJ is the dominant news and entertainment outlet.  It's all a matter of who's on top and where.

There is a key lesson to take away from this, and it has to do with free market capitalism. If perfectly balanced, free market capitalism ensures competition between businesses, which lowers prices to their minimum possible value.  But if taken to its fullest logical conclusion, this means that profits become almost zero, at which point there is very little point in being in business at all. Yes, the free market works for the consumer, but not always perfectly, because if there is no profit at all in the business, the goods don't get to market, no matter how badly the goods might be needed. In the case of Time Warner vs. CBS, both sides can't agree because a fair deal for both sides means no profitability for either one.  The free market has failed, and so the goods end up not getting to market. Yes, capitalism works, but it does have its flaws.

My take on this is simple: I don't care! All I care about is Time Warner providing me with what I, and you, paid for. Time Warner couldn't reach a new contract agreement, and so many stations went off the air. What they forget is that they already had an existing contract with YOU, the customer, and that contract has now been violated! They agreed to provide you with certain channels at a set price.  Now, some of those channels are gone.  They broke their deal with you. Hell, it's not like that deal was even fair to begin with, as you are paying $50 to $80 per month just to have advertisements blared at you from every one of the 2000 channels you are presumably getting quality entertainment from, when your favorite show finally gets a word in edgewise.

So, if channels are missing, calculate the percentage of favorite shows you watch which have been lost, multiply that against the monthly rate you pay to Time Warner, and then demand your rebate!  Maybe it's only $2 or $3, but if we all demand it at once, it will amount to millions!

Well, if you break millions of contracts in order to be hard-nosed with ONE contract, just because that contract happens to be with another too-big corporation, then you deserve to lose all that money!


Eric

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