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Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Franklinton, NC, USA
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There is no actual advantage to a TV station to cause them to get out their DTV signal. The problem is how Nielson ratings work.
When you watch Channel 13, over the air or on cable TV, you are counted as part of the audience wacthing that station. Channel 13 takes the audience data and sets their advertising prices based on it -- the more viewers they have the more they can charge advertisers to run their commercials. The digital broadcast is not counted by Nielson as part of the Channel 13 audience. So if you watch Channel 13's DTV broadcast, they lose you as a viewer. From the point of view of the local affiliate, they lose money by having you watch their digital television station. As far as I can tell, aside from a public/community relations point of view, they have no benefit to increasing the viewership of their DTV broadcast, and actually a small downside. When you look at it from the point of view of actually being a cost because they have to support the transmitter to be OTA (both equipment and ongoing cost of transmission), this is an even larger cost. At some point, this will change as advertisers begin marketing to the HDTV market -- it is only a recent phenomenon that some national commercials are in HD.
Some medium sized media conglomerates, such as Sinclair, have decided that because of the above, and because there are commercial advantages to local cable for carrying the signal, the local cable companies should compensate them for the signal.
There is one action you can take that will hit Sinclair in the pocket book, and that is to actively boycott Sinclair and Sinclair's local advertisers. Stop watching CBS. Send a letter to CBS and to CBS' national advertisers. Send letters (snail maile, email, or fax) to the local advertisers, tell them that you disagree with Sinclair's actions and ask them to pressure Sinclair to change. You may have to go so far as to tell them that you will no longer support companies which support Sinclair. If Sinclair's advertisers pull their commercials, then Sinclair will have a reason to change.
In the past when people have discussed "boycotts" of local advertisers, someone always says "but it isn't fair to punish the local companies" -- you aren't. All the local company has to do is withdraw their advertising from Channel 13. Others say you shouldn't try to hurt Channel 13, because these local guys aren't making the rules -- but that is the only way you might get Sinclair to change.
You can take the same tack regarding Adelphia (or Time Warner). Complain to Adelphia. send letters to local advertisers, and to your local cable authority (probably your city hall). Then dump cable for DirecTV or Dishnetwork. Until you hit them in the pocket book, they have no reason to change.
I'm afraid none of these actions will give you much in the way of satisfaction.