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Cost of Cable Channels Should Be Known

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Stephen Colbert

This is what I’m thinking:

If you ask me, the Public Service Commission should forget about trying to pass a rule or a law to solve future cable TV stalemates like the current one between Time Warner Cable and the owner of the Madison Square Garden Network and do something easier to solve that is more important to consumers.

I’m talking about the cable secrecy that allows systems to avoid telling consumers how much they pay to get channels like MSG, ESPN, CNN, Fox News and hundreds more.

After the battle between TWC and MSG has gone on for several weeks, we still don’t know which company is telling the truth about what TWC had been charged for the channel that carries the New York Knicks and Buffalo Sabres and what is being asked for now. Of course, cable systems pass on whatever they are being charged to the consumer or subscriber.

Consumers get to know what they pay for practically everything else these days. So why not be told what they pay for cable channels? If it isn’t the role of the PSC to propose that law, surely some other state or national body could be responsible. There ought to be a law. I’m just sayin’.

WGR radio host Mike Schopp’s distaste for the National Basketball Association is well-known, but I almost drove off the road Monday afternoon when he said he didn’t want to listen to national host Colin Cowherd talk about New York Knick star Jeremy Lin because he has no interest in the NBA or talking about it. Shortly after that, Schopp said he did want to talk about the Grammys and the death of Whitney Houston. Sure, that’s just what we want from a sports talk host.

I didn’t stay around for Schopp’s assessment of the Grammys. Lin’s story transcends sports and gives hope to every player who never made it off the bench or was told he wasn’t good enough. On Monday night, Stephen Colbert’s addressed Linsanity on his cable comedy show. He said the media is saying Lin came out of nowhere, adding “which is my name for Harvard.” (Lin is a Harvard grad.) David Letterman talked about Lin in his Monday monologue.

The point is that any sports talk host who is proud that he isn’t interested in the Lin story or in the NBA ought to be ashamed of cashing a paycheck. I hope Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan – who wrote a wonderful column about Lin on Monday — straightened Schopp out when he appeared on WGR later in the afternoon. I just couldn’t stick around.

The Buffalo Sabres loss to Tampa Bay Saturday had an 11.4 rating on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate that carried MSG’s coverage. The only February prime programs that will get a higher rating on Channel 2 were the Super Bowl and premiere of “The Voice,” which followed it.

The death of Whitney Houston and the tribute for her Sunday led to a big rating for CBS’ coverage of the Grammy Awards locally as well as nationally. The Grammys had a 23.6 rating on Channel 4. Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate, would be happy to get something in that range for the Oscars on Feb. 26. The fact that the two favorites for best film – “The Artist” and “The Descendants” — are smaller films that appeal to older viewers won’t help ratings. I liked them both very much but I would vote for “Hugo” as best picture.


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8 responses to "Cost of Cable Channels Should Be Known"

  1. Mark Scott says:

    Good analysis of WGR and Mike Schopp, Alan. During Bills season, I’m tuning in Schopp and the Bulldog at least four or five times a week, including their post-game Bills talk. But now, I can honestly say I haven’t gone to 550 in about a week. Indeed, I have no interest in hearing their takes on Whitney Houston and the Grammys. I’m not a big NBA fan either. But I do agree that Lin’s story is worthy of discussion on a radio station that is all sports. Granted, once the Sabres season is over, I don’t envy the WGR gang. What do you talk about? But again, I have no interest in hearing their take on pop culture, so I just don’t tune in again until the Bills pre-season begins. And I’m not alone. The radio ratings show WGR’s numbers plunge during the late spring and summer until the Bills season revs up.

    Speaking of Whitney Houston, I begin here by stating I’m saddened by her death. She left us way too young. But did this deserve treatment as the top story on the NBC Nightly News on Monday evening? This was a full 48 hours after her death. There are so many more important stories that actually affect the lives of viewers that could have run first. This wasn’t a singer of the stature of a John Lennon or Elvis Presley. Maybe I need to start watching Scott Pelley on CBS. Sure, NBC could have covered the story later in the broadcast along with its recap of the Grammys. But the lead story treatment should be left to the tabloid entertainment shows that follow at 7pm.

  2. Gman says:

    Mike Schopp had the chance many years ago to leave here for ESPN Radio. If he ever told his bosses there that he didn’t want to talk NBA, It would have been a long ,cold night in Bristol ,CT. For a talk show host, he has trouble always coming off as a know it all. He comes off as very arrogant. Maybe he should trade places with Sandy Beach. There he could talk about all the entertainment people he wants to. Besides, it would be a riot listening to Sandy Talkin sports.

  3. Doug says:

    I think Mike is just bored with his job-The young guys who havnt worked there as long will never admit to being bored with sports-Yet Mike thinks its cool to not be able to analyze football cuz its boring. I dont understand that. He takes his air time for granted and should move onto something else in life.

  4. Rob says:

    Some notes while wondering what happened to Larry Sales:

    Great point on TWC and MSG. This is almost identical to the Dish dispute a few years ago. Ironic thing is they spend so much time and money trying to tell us as the end user that the other is to blame, you have to wonder how much that is costing them vs. the dollar dispute between the two of them.

    It shouldn’t surprise you about Schopp and his arrogant attitude about anything not hockey or card collecting. Typical Schopp; he toned his act down in front of Sully since he knows Jerry is a big NBA guy. Some great points as well from your other responders.

    Thanks for adding some radio talk as well. I always enjoyed your past columns with news and ratings specific to local radio.

  5. buk says:

    I see that MSG purchased the airtime to broadcast the Sabres game here and Rochester….
    Guess that would explain the constant ads trying to get us to change providers. I’m sure that many viewers are under the impression that the 2 stations did a community service and paid MSG for the right to broadcast the game…..

  6. Eric says:

    I like your take on the cable companies having to disclose the cost they pay per channel. I also think they should also have to disclose when there contracts are up the channels. If you were to switch to Direct TV now they want you to sign a 2 year agreement, but they will not disclose when there contract with MSG is up, so you might end up without MSG anyway.

  7. Jon says:

    Schopp has always made it clear that he only likes Hockey and sometimes baseball. He clearly is bored with any other sport and doesn’t really know that much about them. That is no sin for any fan. But it is a CARDINAL sin for someone in his position. He hates the Bills, so it will be VERY frustrating for him now that he gets his marching orders from management to start talking positively of them since they now own the radio rights. Poor Mike. (And if he was good enough to work at ESPN, he would. Instead, he is an big, arrogant fish in a small, simple-minded pond.)

  8. Rob says:

    $4.69 goes to ESPN from every cable bill. I’d love to know what the other stations charge

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