Tag Archives: satellite TV

FCC removes local regulation rules

FCC logo

While the much-discussed March 2015 decision by the FCC upheld the idea of Net Neutrality, there is a change taking place at the local level that cable providers are hailing as a victory for streamlining the distribution of content to their customers. For the last twenty-two years, local, city, and state committees have possessed oversight of the basic programming packages provided by the cable companies. Now, after a unanimous 5-0 ruling by the FCC to remove this restriction, the providers will be able to determine all the details of their programming packages without having to receive the approval of local authorities.

 

Up until now, the oversight provided by the local committees as part of the 1992 Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act not only dictated which channels could not be excluded from the basic programming packages, but also how much those packages could cost. The new FCC ruling determined that the regulation was no longer necessary because of changes in the market that have created an elevated level of competition for the cable providers, in particular through the expanding footprint of services provided by companies like DirecTV and Dish. Another factor in the FCC’s decision was that since 2013, 220 of 224 requests for exemption from local rate-setting restrictions were approved. With such a high success rate for receiving exemptions, the FCC believes that it is simply removing an unnecessary level of red tape.

 

Cable providers state that with the removal of uniform package requirements, they will be able to present consumers with a variety of service and channel packages, ultimately providing more choices for service packages that don’t include the higher cost premium channels. At the same time the cable providers have cheered the latest FCC decision, broadcasters have been critical of the claims that satellite companies provide reliable enough competition to all parts of the United States to justify this victory for the cable providers. As a result of this rule change, and contrary to the cable companies’ claims, there is a fear among broadcasters that basic TV station signals will now be placed in costly service tiers, ultimately lowering the viewership of local programming.

 

The concern over the FCC ruling is not confined to just local regions, but also the halls of power in Washington D.C. A representative for the National Association of Broadcasters remains perplexed why the one defense available to safeguard consumers from skyrocketing prices has been removed so easily. Furthermore, members of Congress have questioned the FCC’s ruling, stating that this decision will result in increased prices and fewer channel choices for residents in rural and remote areas.

Dish Network and CBS Reach Deal After Week of Blackout

CBS pulled network programming from Dish Network last week, after the two companies could not reach an agreement on a new license.

2 million Dish subscribers lost most CBS channels and the network was planning to increase the scale of the blackout, to make sure Dish moved to an agreement.

Continue reading Dish Network and CBS Reach Deal After Week of Blackout

(NOT) CUTTING THE CORD: Think twice before saying so long to cable

Cable and satellite TV tends to get a bad rap. Monthly bills that are already high and tend to get bigger with every year, coupled with some companies even locking customers into long standing contracts, has cable and satellite struggling with their images.

The arrival of streaming, internet driven entertainment like Netflix, Hulu and other low cost alternatives isn’t doing the cable industry any favors, either. In fact, you could argue that the cable and satellite companies are fretting, at least a little bit, that the wave of the future that is streaming media and television will eventually become the standard. That notion, along consumers constantly looking to save money and aiming that cost cutting at cable first and foremost, has many canceling the service without much consideration. But as easy as it sounds to simply call your cable company or satellite provider and cease your service, you might want to consider, research and totally understand all your options before you make that determination.

First and foremost, if you don’t really want to cancel your cable and enjoy the services provided by them or your satellite company, then it’s not out of the question to call and negotiate with them. Typically, if you’ve been a loyal, paying customer, your cable company might be able to find you another “promotion” to keep you happy and satisfied for at least the next six months to a year. You also want to make sure your post cable or satellite plans won’t interfere with your favorite shows or live television. Streaming services aren’t quite at the point where they can offer you live TV, but rather stockpile movies and television shows of previous years.

Most savvy satellite and cable customers have learned to share and share alike and simply have opted to have the best of both worlds: streaming and traditional entertainment. That would kill the two proverbial birds with one stone and allow you to have a modicum of channels from your cable company and still enjoy saving money with lower cost, streaming options.

No matter what route you opt for, simply cutting the cord with cable or satellite is both equal parts bold of a move but also, in hindsight, could conceivably create a situation where you no longer are plugged into the shows and programming you still desperately want. That’s not to suggest canceling cable service still won’t happen, but it won’t hurt to at least take a long, broader look at the entire scope of your decision before your knee jerk reaction has you kicking yourself after the fact.

CUSTOMER PREFERENCE: Will cable a la carte ever exist?

If cable or satellite TV existed in a perfect world, customers ultimately would have the say in how exactly their service was setup. More specifically, customers might choose to treat their cable or satellite needs more like a cafeteria style buffet, rather than ordering directly off the menu, minus the substitutions.

Traditional cable always came with a centralized package of sorts that included a certain number of channels for a flat fee, with the ability to add additional entertainment and thus changing the price point as you would see fit. But most everyone has paid their cable bill and wondered exactly why they’re paying between $150-200 per month and either rarely watch television or only have a few channels that they actually watch. The key word in that sentiment is “actually,” because the majority of consumers who are paying $50-60 for their basic cable package might only be paying attention to a few of those 100 or so channels that you get as part of the deal. And that fact begs the question: Will cable ever transform to an a la carte business?

That answer almost seemingly will gravitate toward “no,” if you think realistically from the standpoint of the cable and satellite companies. Why would they want to mess with a good thing, even with cable and satellite facing increased competition from streaming internet based services? The cable company most likely is never going to tell customers that they can pick 10 channels that they love and watch most, and can have just those for a lower price. Granted, most cable companies, including the heavy hitters like Comcast and Verizon FIOS, offer an “economy” type package that may give you local channels and a few cable ones, but they’re the ones telling you exactly what’s part of that deal. It’s not your call to piece together the perfect entertainment deal. It’s theirs. But the cable and satellite providers don’t want you to get the wrong idea. They’re not doing this to spite you, but rather make sure you don’t lose the channels that you love most. If cable all of sudden decided to stop bundling channels together, the least watched channels might fall off the entertainment grid altogether, forcing the other basic and cable networks to pay more. In addition, as some concluded, would be elimination of jobs as well as advertising revenue for the networks taking a huge hit. Once you weed through the superlatives of the cable communications and satellite sector, you can draw one simple conclusion: picking your channels as you sit fit isn’t going to happen.

There is too much money to be lost by blowing up the bundle idea and starting from scratch with a pick and pay as you go mentality. Well, at the very least, it’s an idea that won’t ever go away as long as consumers are content on complaining about their cable or satellite bills. It’s that slim to none chance that a la carte might happen that still gives you hope that television viewing may one day change for the better.

AT&T merger with DirecTV approved by Department of Justice

AT&T has apparently gained approval from the DOJ (Department of Justice) to go ahead with their $48.5 billion merger with satellite TV company DirecTV.

The deal has been in the works for a few months. AT&T is looking to compete with the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, currently stuck in the DOJ and FCC office, awaiting approval.

Continue reading AT&T merger with DirecTV approved by Department of Justice

Cutting the Cable

It is no big secret that times are tough, financially, right now for many people in this country; sadly though it really doesn’t look like the times are going to see any dramatic improvement for much of these same people anytime too soon.

When our finances get stretched a little too thin we tend to start scrutinizing what all we are spending our money on — and some may also start look under the sofa cushions too.  We then start looking for things that we are paying for, but don’t need, and either cease paying for those things, or significantly cut back on them.  This only makes sense for us, and this then causes a snowball effect on through the economy at large.

If enough of us resort to cost cutting, then there is less money being spent on a myriad of things, which means that companies are seeing reduced revenues, which causes them to cut back on things like hiring, raises, production/workers hours, and they too start looking for ways to scrimp and save.

Take for example the cable/satellite TV industry.  For many people when they were examining their budgets, and looking for ways to cut costs and reign in spending, they saw how much they were spending on cable/satellite TV and decided that it was something that they could live without; so they did/are doing what is being called “cutting the cable.”

More and more people are doing this each year, and it is starting to have an impact on many of those service providers.  Satellite providers have threatened to drop entire networks from their lineups when those networks demand an increase in the amount of money they get from those providers.  Earlier this year Dish Network dropped AMC just before that network’s season premiere of its hit show “Breaking Bad,” and Viacom pulled ALL of its networks (parent company of Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, as well as others) from DirecTV due to a monetary dispute.  Eventually these issues tend to work their way out through some kind of negotiation and compromise; Dish Network eventually re-added AMC back to its lineup, and to the best of my knowledge Viacom has restored their networks to DirecTV; but it is an example of companies looking for ways to either make, or save, more money to maintain some level of profitability.

Nonetheless it does seem that we have reached the peak in how ubiquitous cable/satellite TV is, simply because it is something that more and more people are realizing that they can, in fact, live without; especially since most of our favorite television shows can be watched online now; and the fact that more and more TV’s are coming out of the box internet ready.  These factors, and more, should continue to lead an increasing number of people to “cut the cable;” which will continue to force more of the service providers and networks to engage in pricing battles and channel cancellations.