Senator Rockfeller, in a statement made to the FCC at a Senate Committee meeting, proposed the FCC do something about the rising costs of cable, noting the amount of Americans that are cutting the cable cord, and returning to over-the-air broadcasts, internet TV, and other sources. Rockefeller, (D-WV) with statistics from the F.C.C. showing that the costs of pay TV have risen 3 times the rate of inflation since 1995, believes the FCC needs to start monitoring negotiations, and pay TV packaging, stating that the old phrase “500 channels, and nothing on” has never been so relevant.
He also attacked the “packaging” of channels the customer receives, stating that the customer only watches a few of those channels, but must purchase 100 of them to get the few we actually wish to have. Cable, Satellite and Telco Companies have been refusing to allow customers to purchase “a’ la carte” channels for years, stating that it would cost more, or is just not do-able. I do understand the concept, however, that smaller or start-up channels would be the ones who suffer, as no one would purchase them to “see” if it is something they may want to pay for in the future. However, that said, those channels could still be offered in “specials” to the customer (as they are new) and I would think that if the pay TV providers did switch to ”a’ la carte” that the quality of the Entertainment put on by all the channels would have to rise substantially. This can only benefit us, the consumer.
On retransmission consent, the Senator said our system is broken, and when it fails, we end up with blank screens on our local channels, such is what happened recently with Fox v. Cablevision in New York. Again, he was right on mark. Cablevision subscribers lost their local Fox local channel which could have been seen free, over the air. Cablevision lost customers because of it, many customers threatened to leave, and many just complained. The negotiations, as you know, finally met with an agreement. The agreement details were not disclosed, but everyone knows that Cablevision had to fork over much more money to re-broadcast the Fox channels to their subscribers. Subscribers were happy to have their shows back, and their sports. However, come the beginning of next year, those same customers will feel the negotiation that was made in their new, higher cable bills. I am not attacking only Fox here, they all do it. G.E., Viacom, Comcast, Scripps, et. al. The losers, always in these negotiations, are the consumers, us.
Rockefeller also decried the 24 hour News Cycle, stating that if it were his choice, he would completely put an end to Fox News and MSNBC. This was not the entirety of his statement, in fact, only 90 seconds of his 5 and a half minute statement… less than a third of what he had to say today. However, if you Google Senator Rockefeller FCC, the first few pages are only about this part of his entire statement. One would think this was the only thing he had to say today. I won’t delve too much into this, as Huffington Post, Fox, and a slew of other media outlets and blogs have got this covered, but he basically decried that he is tired of this “Right and Left” environment we now find ourselves a part of. He stated that these 24 hour News Cycles are “ravenous” for the next rumor, but “insufficiently hungry” for the facts. He is right. I don’t know how many times I alone have seen this, read this, heard this; a huge breaking story on any one of those News Channels that turn out to be mostly, and worse, completely false. Not often will you hear retractions to the falsehoods either, leaving Americans to believe the unfounded “breaking” claims made yesterday, or last week. He believes that all these channels do is provide a discourse in this country, in our Government, and inhibits both sides of the aisle from getting the work done for the American people, that they are part of the “dumbing down” of America. Again, unfortunately, he is right.
For years, I have been saying that shows on MSNBC and FOX News (those two in particular, but CNN’s hands aren’t clean here) need to stop calling themselves news. Keith Olbermann is a Commentator. Bill O’Reilly is a Commentator. Rachel Maddow, Glenn Beck, all commentators. It is their opinion on the news, NOT news. To me, either the channels stop calling themselves 24 hour news, or, they separate. Have channels with 24 hour news without opinion, and channels that carry 24 hour opinion, called, ENTERTAINMENT. Somewhere, somehow, there needs to be disclaimers put on these commentators. I don’t know how many e-mails, how many “shares” on Facebook, how many “tweets” it will take of false news stories before they finally decide it’s time to either regulate the cable news industry, or just flat out ban them for riling people up for the sake of ratings, and calling it “News”. I am not one bit advocating censorship or to take away any right to free speech. However, to call those channels “24 hour News” is just plain false advertising. When I read the Newspaper (yes, I still read the newspaper) I don’t immediately open the paper to the OpEd section to read the News. This is how I see the cable News Channels; like opening my Opinion section of the paper, and getting my news only there.
I agree with pretty much everything the Senator had to say today, from the perspective of a consumer. However, the only problem with any of the adjustements he recommends is that the FCC has no regulation over Pay television, and therefore, unless some kind of regulation is put in place, I can’t see any of the above improving anytime soon. It is all about the mighty dollar in this country, and no big corporation will get behind any of his statements. Matter of fact, I’m guessing that is why we see the big media outlets ignoring the rest of his statement, and focusing only on what was said about the News Channels. As of this writing, Keith Olbermann has already given Senator Rockefeller the “Bronze medal” in his “(Not Really) Worst Persons” segment, and Glenn Beck, in his best “baby” voice, compared their “news” shows to the police, monitoring the Government. Basically, the big companies are turning his statement into ratings, and more discourse among our citizens, exactly what he was speaking out against for that 90 seconds of his over 5 minute statement. We the citizens, in my opinion, should ban together and act like the big corporations do, and keep our money. Hit ‘em where it hurts until they give us quality entertainment, quality news, and lower rates. I’m pretty sure that if we dig real deep, we could all come to our own conclusions of what is really going on in our Government, and even form our very own opinions, if we just actually got to hear the news, rather than the news in the spin of the commentator. Again, I am not advocating the removal of such shows, I watch some myself, but they do have their place.
Full statement made by Senator Rockefeller below. [VIDEO]
What do you think about the Senators statement? Do you think he hit the mark? Do you think our Government can do anything at all about this? Totally disagree with me? Let us know below or in the FORUM!