For the sake of getting lost in too many debates on the business practices and ethics of the locals and Comcast, I'll just keep my mouth shut after this.... Well, maybe some more glib comments here and there, but no more hypotheticals and Clancy-eque-ing.
See, this is what I get for ignoring local TV stations & cable until I was sans OTA. Thanks for the link on the KIRO story. Fully unaware that happened.
But, that article leaves opens some holes in my view. And they are likely to be holes that aren't going to be closed because that's the nature of business.
I guess what I'm trying to get at (and not doing a terribly wonderful job of) is that you really can't lay blame fully at the feet of one side or the other in this debacle.
If I was to stand here and say it's somebody's "fault", I'd have to go with a 60/40 break. The 60 would be Comcast. I firmly believe the 40 for the locals really wouldn't have much to do with some outrageous carriage fee being shoved down Comcasts throat. I've seen no evidene that locals are withholding their signals, in fact two of the emails in that HDTVPUB thread basically said, "they can have it anytime they wish", and another station is risking the loss of this revenue from a large segment of customers by playing the "you can have it free today" commercials and getting the word out that they are open for your HDTV business today, all you need is the HDTV hardware and an antenna.
Could KOMO be playing hardball by turning Comcast customers who can't get their locals OTA against them? Sure, but another likely scenario is, they want to start adding households viewing HDTV to their advertising rate books so they can claim a more affluent market and get Albert Lee Appliances to buy another set of ads on their HDTV stream.
Do the locals want money? Sure, show me a business that wouldn't in the same situation. Do I believe that's purely for the purpose of offsetting their upgrade costs? Nope. They can cover that in a few months with the new revenue stream advertising on their HD channels will open up. And I'd also suspsect that most of the big 4 have it already paid for. KOMO is the only station with full HD local production capabilities, and they've had those for some time. The rest aren't doing much of anything other than retransmission of their national feed. Had they all built full in-house production facilities and armed almost every one of their trucks with HD cameras, I could see this, but so far KOMO is the only player that has those features.
You could argue that they want the money so they can upgrade their studios and trucks, but here again I'll point you to the crowned jewel, the local ad money.
Add the fact that KCTS still isn't on the air when the deal has been done for some time and this opens a whole different can of worms...
KCTS is not-for-profit, but they are in a world of hurt financially. They are the only announced local HD deal Comcast has done. The fact that it's still not being piped into homes and there is no ETA in sight is a nice little twist here. Especially when you see that ESPN-HD, where the ink is hardly dry on the deal, has been tested on channel 100 and a press release sent confirming an August 4th launch.
Are there technical difficulties with KCTS' multi-casting feed? Why did Comcast sign and announce the deal not knowing when they could have it in homes? Or knowing they wouldn't have it in homes for some time? Why are they advertising it constantly knowing any number of the aforementioned is true? Maybe Comcast is looking to offset their facility upgrades by encouraging customers to sign up for an elevated pckage and then stringing along before delivering any promised content to them. That's just as likely as any of the locals holding Comcast over a barrell demanding outrageous fees.
Why did KCTS sign and not any of the others? Could this mean that KCTS was so financially strapped they had to take a low ball offer from Comcast? Did they do this hoping they could get into more affluent households with HDTVs and hopefully start generating more contributions? And usually when one station signs, one of the others in a similar situation will "break ranks" and follow, and then another one. Eventually one of the big 4 will want to open up that new revenue stream and get the jump on their competition so they'll blink. But that hasn't happened yet.
Will Lassie be able to get Timmy out of the well? That's about the only question I think we'll ever really know the answer...
Like I said, there are too many omissions and contradictions in this battle to make me stand here waving my finger and shouting "j'accuse" to the local channels alone.
Now I'll go sit silently with a candle lit in my window hoping my Local HDs can find their way home again.