Friday, December 30, 2011

My final rant of the year

How do you know it's the end of the year?  Because a cable provider is threatening to drop a popular channel or two.  This time the feud is between Time Warner Cable (big shock) and the MSG network in New York.   Last year, cable subscribers in many areas were in danger of losing all Fox networks.   These contracts expire on December 31st.  And invariably there is an impasse, threats, ads taken out, more threats, and the two sides settle at the last minute.

So why can't the same deal be struck December 4th?   Think of all the money everyone would save on ads!  Think of the good will.  Every player in this game is a giant conglomerate.  All these public feuds do is get us to decide which of you two major behemoths we hate more.

Then you're forced to spend millions on advertising campaigns trying to convince us you're just plain folks looking out for our best interests.  Even village idiots don't buy that anymore.

The just plain folks at Verizon thought they could slip this one by us:  Without any announcement, they just started charging customers an additional $2 to pay their bill.  Taking your money isn't free, y'know!  It only took one day of customers going postal for Verizon to back off of that policy.   You're telling me that not one executive up in the Verizon board room figured this might be the reaction?   Not a single over-paid suit said, "I'm not sure this is the best move, PR-wise"?

"Can you hear me now?   You're SCUMBAGS!!"

When Sirius merged with XM and Congress was leery they assured the government they would not raise rates.  But I guess that was before they could.   Yesterday I got a lovely email from Sirius/XM CEO Mel Karmazin informing me he's raising subscription rates.  But here's his spin:

As we continue to add exciting new content and find more ways for you to enjoy our programming, we will work hard to control costs and create efficiencies to ensure SiriusXM continues to be the best value for your entertainment dollar.

"Create efficiencies".  Isn't that a lovely term?  What could that possibly mean other than firing people?  You've already fired a bunch of people. And your "unparalleled" programming has suffered as a result.  And it's "unparalleled" not because it's the best but because you're a monopoly.

This was another banner year for big business.   2011 gave us the Chevy Volt, Qwikster, the HTC Status Phone, the Playbook, the Fiat 500, and the $175 million dollar Disney spectacular, MARS NEEDS MOMS.

As we head into 2012 I ask this simple question:  Shouldn't we find someone other than Charles Montgomery Burns to run America?

Okay.  I'll stop ranting now.  I don't know why I'm getting so worked up.  I can't even get MSG here in Los Angeles. 


Don K. said...

Can't get MSG? Get some take out.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the part about MSG's contract being up, demanding about 50% more money from TWC, and the demand that TWC also carry FUSE network. Hard bargain.

James said...

Look at GoDaddy and, to a bigger extent, Netflix. A lot of companies are filled (then and now) with yes men. Someone high up wants something, and everyone says Yes, sir and figures out how to be somewhere else when it hits the fan.

Even if you're not a Yes man, how often can you tell the boss No and still hold onto a viable career? How many bad ideas got squelched for these to get through?

Buck Wild said...

XM and Sirius merged because they were each losing huge amounts of money, and could not have survived on their own. If you don't like their satellite radio monopoly, consider that today you could go without any option of satellite radio at all, because without the merger, it wouldn't exist. It probably still won't in a few years, but for now, the lower-quality stuff they're churning out is the best choice we have.

If you have a better plan for viable satellite radio, America would love to hear it. I'd pay for it.

Roger Owen Green said...

Why couldn't they settle on December 4? For the same reason the NBA players & owners, the NFL players & owners, the President & Congress can't settle- because a few minutes til midnight provides more perceived leverage.

DJ said...

AT&T dropped the NHL Network back in October, much to my dismay. I'm missing my Hockey Night in Canada...

Paul Duca said...

Maybe this will make you feel better,'s a great new old-sounding song:

And doesn't the singer reminds us of someone we all know?
(ignore that the video looks likes it was directed by Quentin Tarentino, or some of the lyrics--there's a radio friendly version)

Tom Quigley said...

And while we're in a ranting mood...

Ken, did you ever find out who at Paramount (I'm assuming) gave the green light to using the CHEERS theme in an insurance company commercial?

That decision still aggravates me almost as much as Nike using the Beatles' "Revolution" in one of theirs...

Howard Hoffman said...

@Buck: Ah, but there is indeed a better alternative to satellite. It's got thousands of channels, millions of listeners and you probably already have it in your pocket. It's what's scaring the crap out of both terrestrial and satellite radio companies. Best of all, car companies are already starting to offer it in their new models.

All you have to do is grab an app called TuneIn. It's available for any smartphone. Pick your stations from anywhere in the world, plug it into your car's mp3 jack and you're golden.

Once this catches on, Sirius/XM and transmitter fields will be the dinosaurs they're becoming.