Monday, January 04, 2010
Open Letter,Re: the Food Network/HGTV New Year's Eve Massacre
Dear TV Corporate Entities,
This past weekend issued in a start to another year,one that many of us hope will be much better than the one we just finished up with. I don't tend to be a superstitious person but soon after midnight,I and many other viewers in the New York,New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area switched our channels to either the Food Network or HGTV,expecting some pleasant late night fare and received this blank faced message instead:
Needless to say,this was quite a shock and as of today,this message that tells us we won't be getting these channels for who knows how long is still playing. As paying customers(some of us for over ten years),we find it infuriating that advance warning was not given by Cablevision in most of our viewing areas. Also,the fact that this was done on a holiday weekend,when customer service is practically non existent,really takes the cake.
Apparently,the crew over at Scripps has been prepared for this situation to occur for some time now and is actively recruiting disgruntled viewers to join them in protest. They have websites set up for folks to send protest e-cards and even some of their network stars have taped appeals to keep these channels on the air:
I've sent out a few protests myself,including a letter to the head of Cablevision who had one of his staff send me a response that blames Scripps for taking the channels off the air and had this to say regarding the whole stand-off:
" This dispute is about huge fee increases that Scripps is seeking for HGTV and Food Network. They are looking for more than a 200 percent increase for their channels. In effect, Scripps Networks is asking Cablevision customers to bail them out of their financial difficulties. If every programming service demanded such increases, your cable bill would be astronomical. In fact, Cablevision's cable rates are increasing by less than 4 percent this year, but the costs we are paying for programming are increasing at double that rate.
HGTV and Food Network claim to be in the top 10 most popular networks. In fact, they rank in the lower half of basic networks watched by Cablevision viewers. However, we do understand that it is important for us to carry all of the networks that our customers want us to carry, but we need to do so in a way that does not dramatically increase all customer bills.
The channels where HGTV and Food Network appeared on Cablevision remain available and Scripps could put their programming back at any time while we negotiate a new agreement. We believe it was irresponsible for Scripps to take the channels off, and it is irresponsible for them not to put the channels back on."
Meanwhile,the folks at Scripps have sent out an open letter(posted at several websites)to Cablevision customers about this mess that we're in:
"We deeply appreciate that you value Food Network and HGTV and fully understand that the trust we’ve built between us underpins the success and popularity of these two television brands.
That’s why nobody’s more disappointed than we are that you – if you’re a Cablevision customer – aren’t able to see your favorite shows and on-air hosts. It’s especially disappointing considering that Food Network and HGTV can be seen on every other cable, satellite and telecom system in the country.
We know the reasons for this impasse with Cablevision are not what matters to you. What matters most to you is that you can’t enjoy the shows you’ve come to love. And for that, we’re deeply sorry."
You know what,fellas? Even tho I feel that Cablevision has totally underestimated the worth of Food Network and HGTV(plus the devotion to both networks from viewers)and seems to have a "let them eat cake" approach to the dissatisfaction expressed by their subscribers,this is getting to the point where we the consumers are ready to declare a plague on both your houses.
Scripps does at least have the decency to say they're sorry,but both sides of the table are asking us to speak for them like we're in a remake of Kramer Vs. Kramer. This is getting to be too much-if Time Warner and Fox can make an agreement without disruption of service,so can you.
We get that one of you wants more money and the other doesn't want to pay more,which is nothing new under the sun. Also,we are fully well aware that our rates will go up one way or the other. In such hard financial times as these,many people have had to tighten their budget belts and the advice and helpful hints given by both Food Network and HGTV have been a true boon to us,not to mention being a family friendly oasis in the turbulent TV storm.
By forcing us to take sides,you are not only adding an extra bit of annoyance onto our incredibly full plates,you're losing the most valuable commodity any business owns-good will. Good will is what keeps customers loyal to a company,even when times are tough,and brings new folks into the fold. Without it,your business is destined to fail,regardless of how good your product is.
Many people will turn to other network providers in order to get these channels back,while some of us will have no choice but to wait this out. Either way,this is a bad way to start off the new year and if it keeps up much longer,we may have to get all Drew Barrymore in Irreconcilable Differences and file for a divorce from both of you.
Go back to the bargaining table,people,and give us back our Food Network and HGTV while you work this out. That's the right thing to do here for all concerned and if you want us,the folks who give you our hard earned money year after year,to cheer you on,then you ought to treat us with more respect by releasing your network hostages. Consumer fury is a double edged sword that cuts both ways and your pocketbooks will be the ultimate casualty in this war. Count on that,guys.
Lady T and the rest of us stuck in the middle with you
P.S.: Howard Beale is starting to sound very sensible here,fellas-have a care:
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