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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

OLIVER: Time to stop playing ‘Who Has More Money?’


This weekend the NFL officially returned, and I don’t know about you, but I spend all summer looking forward to the beginning of each season. As soon as the Super Bowl is over, I start thinking about how long it is until next season begins.

Sunday morning was wonderful. I watched football, did homework and was ready to enjoy some evening football. Oh wait, we didn’t get the Sunday night game because NBC is still blacked out.

Journal Broadcast Group stopped airing its programming on Time Warner Cable July 25. Since then the cities of Milwaukee, Green Bay, Palm Springs, Calf. and Lincoln, Neb., have been without programming.

Since the beginning of the blackout, Journal Broadcast Group and Time Warner Cable have been playing a game of “Who has more Money?”

Each week it seems that there are more commercials trying to convince the other party to fold and come to the negotiating table. Then they go to negotiate, decide that there is nothing they can agree on and make more commercials. It is a vicious cycle that is never ending, and until something is done to change the system, blackouts are going to continue to be a semi-regular part of our seasonal programming.

Journal Broadcast Group has seen its stocks fall a whopping 23.3 percent, while Time Warner Cable has attempted to offer a plethora of options, most embarrassingly the Tennis Channel and the Game Show network. These inadequate substitutes for our regular programming are disgraceful. No offense to tennis fans, but tennis just doesn’t have the following that football does.

It is almost like a bad cold I can’t shake. Throughout the entire blackout, people speculated what it would take to get the networks back on air. First it was fall primetime programming. Then it was the Packers preseason. Now it is the NFL regular season. SURPRISE nothing has worked.

More than a week ago, Time Warner Cable and Journal Broadcast Group representatives met in an attempt to get the channel back on air.

“We are encouraged that, for the first time, we had the opportunity to meet directly with Journal leadership to try and resolve this issue,” Michael Pedelty, a spokesperson for Time Warner Cable said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are hopeful that we can come to an understanding soon, but any deal has to be in the customers’ best interest.”

Here we are a week later, still not any closer to having TMJ4, Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate, back on the air. If Time Warner Cable really cared about the customers, it would settle this contract dispute, and put WTMJ-TV back on the air.

The worst thing about the blackout is that the student body does not have a voice in the matter. Students in a dorm or a university apartment that provides cable, are not in control of their cable subscriptions. You can’t even call Time Warner or Journal Broadcast Group if you’re not an account holder. Milwaukee is by no means a small city, we may be a smaller market than Chicago or New York, but we are the biggest city in Wisconsin. If there was more of a public outcry, this issue would’ve been solved already.

Yes, people have threatened to switch service providers, but Time Warner’s latest commercial is correct – switching providers is futile because there is nothing stopping the other providers from blacking out channels in the future. Neither side is right, and the biggest problem is that there is no real way to change this. We are all just cogs in a machine that is on the last legs of its life. Until it is truly broken, nothing will change with our cable service providers and their channels.

Nobody wants to be ignored, but the public currently is. If you pay for these programs you should have some sort of voice, but when we try to ask questions or demand some sort of negotiation, we’re given some free channels to hold us over until the adults sort out the problems.

As Journal Broadcast Group stock continues to plummet, as people start to leave Time Warner, the companies will be forced to sit down at the negotiation table and come to terms on a contract to hold us over until the next blackout. But until Journal Broadcast Group and Time Warner come to that agreement, I know what I won’t be watching: Sunday Night Football, and that’s a damn shame.

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