Friday, February 06, 2009
Three Madison network-affiliated TV stations to rabbit ear owners: Drop Dead
Congress had scarcely finished approving the postponement of the digital TV transition until June 12 when Madison's three major commercial network affiliates -- channels 3, 15 and 27 -- expressed their contempt for the intent of Congress and the needs of their viewers by announcing they would go ahead on the original Feb. 17 timetable for shutting off their analog transmitters (channels 21 and 47 are still thinking about it).
After all, only 1% of the viewers in the Madison area would be affected, the stations said -- citing statistics they seem to have pulled out of thin air. (Actually, some cable subscribers aren't even ready -- their set-top boxes output a digital signal, and they'll still need suddenly hard-to-get converters for every analog set attached to the cable, if they haven't already bought them.)
Theoretically, the stations are within their rights -- the law says stations may switch early, but it was thought competitive forces would keep most from switching early. Some competition. Some free market. When the three primary competitors in a small city all make the same decision at the same time, it looks (and smells) a lot more like collusion than competition. Anybody read the antitrust laws lately?
Somebody needs to remind these jokers that they don't own the airwaves. We do, we the public, and they are licensed to use them with our (collective) permission. It's about time they show us some respect.