Collateral Damage in the Cable Wars (updated)

Charter Cable and FSW are engaged in a spitting match, and we Angel fans are caught in the middle.


We unfortunate Charter victims customers were left in the dark the first week (sadly, it was Nick Adenhart's start) when a game was blacked out for us with absolutely no explanation offered.

Wednesday Night (the second game in the Tigers series) I checked the Fox Sports HD channel hopefully, as always, but while the info box promised the Angels game, what I saw was the Dodgers-Astros game in progress. That's the problem with surfing cable nowadays: you never know when you're going to happen upon something offensive.

I jumped over to FSW, and there was some kind of rock 'em-sock-em match going on, with a crawl instructing me to call my cable denier provider and ask them why I was not seeing the Angels game.

Well, a lot of us did, and yeswecan finally got the whole truth out of Charter:

Fox wants Charter to charge its customers for certain games. Charter does not. They are in negotiations, and since they don’t have an agreement, the following games are currently scheduled to be blacked out (not available to watch at any price): April 23-24, May 4-8, 12-13,18-19, 25, 27, 29, June 15-16, 22-24, July 6-8, and 10.

Several of us were told that these were "premium" games. As far as I can tell, a "premium" game is one in which our bullpen has a meltdown.

So the situation seems to be this: FSW is pulling a power play with the cable companies, and Charter is digging in its heels. Well, that's their prerogative, but instead of being up front with us customers, they acted coyly, issuing no warning beforehand, feigning cluelessness the first time, and then coming clean after being dimed by FSW, and then only under intense interrogation (well done, yeswecan!)

So what do we Charter Angel fans do? What recourse do we have? I doubt that even if we all demanded the pro-forma $5 credit every time this would force their hand, and in any event they make this so difficult that it's hardly worth the effort. We could cancel their service, and if you have Verizon FIOS available, this is the course I would recommend. I hear the service is fantastic. Unfortunately, it's not available where we live. We could switch to DirecTV, but we'd still have to stay with Charter for their Internet service. Forget calling FSN; they'd just tell us to call Charter.

What do you all think? I don't imagine the Angels have any direct control over this--at least, I can't imagine they would be party to this, given that they have more to lose than anyone--but it is in their best interest to see this matter resolved as quickly as possible, because this affects their ratings, and thus in a way the value of the franchise. So perhaps leaning on them would have the best effect.


I "chatted" online with supervisor Jocelyn, who after some prodding issued what sounds like the official Charter position, once one gets past their protective layer of guile:

Fox Sports has decided to make certain Angels games unavailable unless Charter pays an additional surcharge.

Following your favorite sports team is an emotional experience, so we hear from a segment of our customers that want their team on TV every week regardless of which network carries the game and the price involved. However, we have also heard from a significant amount of customers that appreciate greater choice in channels that would impact their cable prices.

Our priority is to continue providing the best value and choices to our customers. Sports on television is the most expensive programming available to cable operators and cable customers today. Charter has interest in carriage of all MLB programming, however we feel that pricing needs to be reasonable for our cable customers.

We are negotiating with FSN to carry these games and hope to be able to provide these games without raising our rates.

I worked on her for nearly an hour, making all the arguments you all have offered below and putting the flame to her straw-man argument about people who call up with unreasonable or impossible demands, but I couldn't make her budge off the company line.

I did nonetheless get her to knock $10 off our bill, which provided at least some compensation for the time I wasted with her and her underling before her.

Judging by the absolute lack of coverage of this situation anywhere but here, and Charter's apparent willingness to sacrifice some business to win this corporate skirmish, I guess (as Jim Healy might have put it) we have just two chances of getting satisfaction anytime soon: slimski and noneski.


This Fan-Post is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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