Reality Check: Reader’s Responses James Campion November 17, 2010 Columns On November 3, two weeks into the Cablevision/News Corp. feud, which blacked out the Fox Network among other channels for over three million paying customers across the east coast, this space ran an investigation into what should rightfully be expected by a drop in service; a Cablevision rebate. Included was a lengthy discussion with the corporation’s Vice President of Media Relations Cable & Communications Jim Maiella in which he stated there would be an answer on the issue forthcoming. The day after it ran, the ensuing settlement returned full service, however, as these responses to the piece are sent to press a full two weeks hence, we are still waiting. Stay tuned… I don’t know if you addressed the partial payment approach, i.e., pay Cablevision whatever percent of the basic service we got this month. I am not a lawyer, but if they cash the check, they have accepted what we pay them, and keep shorting them until eventually we quit the service. Let them then come after me for the eventual balance due. Then I will fight it. —Fred P. Good effort all around, JC, and many thanks from an equally perturbed albeit non-Yankee fan Cablevision customer. May I suggest that we Cablevision customers respectfully decline to pay our full respective Cablevision bills? That we stand unified in subtracting a sum certain to compensate for decreased services? Any takers? —Elizabeth Vengen esq. Initially I dismissed this article as Rupert’s pap could disappear beneath the waves with no discernible impact on my life. But in the gym this morning I overheard two disappointed Yankees fan talk about how much clearer the local channels look on Verizon’s competing service. The free market is working in my neck of the woods. I am guessing you have no such choice in your corner that is supposedly part of the Garden State. But if you have the Internet, you can look at ultraconservative news and view sports, just maybe not as it happens. Think of all the stuff you can accomplish when you’re not watching Glenn Beck or the Yankees. —Doctor Slater Let’s not forget that elected boobs in government, both state and federal, decided that cable companies should have a monopoly in the areas they cover – sorry, but Dish is not a viable alternative for those of us who live amongst the trees – and as a monopoly they can and have gotten away with whatever they want with impunity. Time Warner down here in NC has seen the writing on the wall and has started the nice-nice commercials in the hopes that when the viable alternative that’s just around the corner shows up we’ll all forget about how they took advantage of us when they were the only fish in the pond. All free market haters out there need to wise up and understand that when you take competition out of the equation bad craziness results. And before anyone jumps to the tired “not enough regulation” rant which usually follows any mention of the phrase “free markets” know this: there’s a difference between regulation which simply enforces known rules and regulation that gives arbitrary powers to the government to force others to knuckle under to demands that have nothing to do with the ostensible purposes of the regulation. —Ken Eustace It just so happens that Scripps and News Corps provide most of the best content available and News Corps especially has huge viewer ratings. Cablevision – which merely owns the cable that delivers the programming and has a monopoly with greater than 20 percent annual profit margins – uses the airwaves to demonize content providers who charge more for their products. Cablevision calling News Corps greedy is the pot calling the kettle black. When it comes to greed and consumer rip-offs, they don’t get much worse than Cablevision. Moving from greed to bizarre – Cablevision thinks companies like News Corps can be treated like management treats recalcitrant unions – force them into arbitration. Here’s news for ya Cablevision: News Corps sells its products. If you don’t want to pay the price, move along. —Anna Not communicating the full rate vs the reduced programming proactively to customers is as criminal as paying increases on real estate taxes in NY when home values go up but not getting a reduction when they go down. I’m not sure Cablevision wants the term “criminal” circulating around. When more customers move to FIOS and Direct TV, those companies will have more money to invest in developing premium services. Tick-tock, cablevision. —Bill Cablevision is 100 percent wrong in billing customers for services not provided and must give credit for the period of time that they did not provide Fox and refused to renew and pay News Corp. No other cable company seemed to have a problem with News Corp, only greedy Cablevision, which has no respect for customers. I wish we had an alternative to this monopoly greedily managed and controlled by the Dolan Family. Even their stock trades with a Dolan Discount. —Lance People need to stop being so simple minded… Cablevision has 3 million subscribers in a world of over 350 million. If you were to break it down for 2 weeks it’s about 3-5 dollars per person. If you’re hard up for 3-5 bucks cut your service off cause you have bigger problems. Everyday that passes by I feel worst for what the future bears and its mentality. Read, exercise, do something productive with yourselves… It’s not that serious!- Be a blessing in someone’s life and if you can’t Pray for them, look at the bigger picture. —Marcus As usual, Reality Check has got it right. This is simple Business 101. Our power to negotiate is in what we agree to pay for a product/service. The company decides what it will provide in these areas. We figure whether it is a fair exchange and enter into a fiscal contract, a good faith that the service (in this case) will be provided without interruption or excuses. It is initially about dollars and cents, but in the need it is about principle and what right you have as a consumer to question the validly of the bills you receive commensurate to what you are getting in product/service. If Cablevision had gotten this right in the first place, which it did not and paid dearly in public relations and probably lost in customers, then it would have been ahead of this stating outrage by being held up by Fox News and siding with its customers by giving them a minor discount, which would have seemed much more by the mere gesture. Instead, we get its propaganda on our channels and in the press – beautifully dissected and blown apart in this column – and this call to arms against News Corp. Well, if you wanted us to be up in arms, you should have secured us as allies by doing the right thing and throwing your customers a bone instead of peddling a load of crap as answers. —Elaine Issa James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and “Midnight For Cinderella. 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