Just a reminder – your To Do’s for today, Zoners:
Call Time Warner at 1-800-762-3786 and ask them to say NO to the blackout, and yes to keeping Comedy Central for over 13 million viewers!
Call Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman (pronounced DOH-mon) at 1-212-258-6000 and ask him to get back to the table and stop Time Warner from blocking 19 Viacom channels!
There has been some interesting commentary today after the bombshell yesterday that Time Warner Cable is scheduled to turn off Comedy Central and 19 other Viacom channels on January 1st. First, Nikki Finke reports that Time Warner was quite unprepared for our phone calls:
It appears Time Warner Cable customer service was unprepared for the onslaught of complaints from subscribers flooding into call centers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many reps were unaware of the dispute with Viacom, which began running news crawls below its programming that 19 channels would go dark on the cable system operation at 12:01 AM on January 1st. Viacom also placed full-page advertisements in some major market newspapers today featuring protests by its media characters, including Dora the Explorer who is shown crying because she is being taken away from her fans, or SpongeBob freaking out. Viacom is even telling viewers they can get Dora or SpongeBob back by signing onto Time Warner Cable’s competitors DirecTV or Verizon. Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable is prepared to refund customers for the lost programming if a deal can’t be reached by New Year’s, though the amount hasn’t been determined yet.
Also, Nikki is reporting that Time Warner is pushing back in its own media onslaught to defend itself against Viacom’s claims.
The LA Times makes a very interesting point about the entire debacle:
Time Warner Cable had better be careful what it wishes for.
Its legal head-butting with Viacom could wind up with Viacom yanking its channels off cable TV in about 12 million homes in LA and elsewhere before 2009 arrives at midnight tonight.
I wouldn’t blubber over a blank screen where “Spongebob” used to be, though I might feel some initial pangs of separation anxiety when it comes to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
But then again, I know that I can always find Stewart’s and Colbert’s best bits online. And that’s Time Warner’s dangerous gamble — that people can learn to live without what it’s selling. I already have, to some extent. When Time Warner pulled Turner Classic Movies from its basic cable lineup — in Hollywood, no less! — and substituted the Golf Channel, I didn’t bite and upgrade to premium. I’ve ended up buying a lot of the black and white classic films I love, and can now watch them on my schedule, not Time Warner’s.
See, here’s the thing. The shows I watch on network TV – Chuck, Ugly Betty, The Office – all come out on DVD. Which, in theory, I can rent from Netflix at the end of the season. The shows I watch on cable – The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Southpark – are all free and available on Hulu and Comedy Central’s official sites. In theory, like the LA Times columnist states, I don’t need Time Warner at all. Now my husband likes to watch sports and other live events, and the inconveniece of no cable would be greater for him than for me. But it is possible, that’s all I’m saying.
And don’t Time Warner and Viacom realized that a) the economy is in the toilet, b) cable TV is a luxury with so much available online and DVD rental, and c) people are looking to cut corners as their paychecks and disposable income is quickly dwindling? As one of the commenters stated before, Just give me an excuse to cancel you, Time Warner. Just do it.
And for God’s sake, Viacom, get back to the table, stop whining, suck it up and find a way to keep your shows on the air before the advertisers already start running from an already weakening cable advertising structure. No advertising means no ‘Colbert Report’ even online, which makes me extremely cranky. There’s got to be a better way to resolve this than ticking off 13 million Viacom viewers.
This threat is not just Time Warner’s fault, and not just Viacom’s fault. This is a team effort in the potential for major FAIL. Get on it bigwigs – surely one of you gets paid enough to be able to have the authority to get this mess sorted out before the fans get ugly.