Originally posted by glz
Well, first let me say there is no one here that would like to see all the local channels in HD on Comcast
Right, no one here would like to see that
but after a lot of thought about the whole thing i think I understand the position Emmis has taken. For the service I purchase from Comcast (limited basic) I think I have to support the position Emmis has taken (I know I'm in the minority here so please, no flames, it's just my thoughts).
Here in lies the problem. the cable company charges for a QAM receiver. If this type of receiver was free or available to the consumer to purchase or for free from the cable company I think this would be a valid argument. The problem seems to be Emmis sees the cable company profiting heavily by charging a monthly fee for the QAM receiver. I for one believe this IS a valid argument. The cable company should treat and provide HD channels the same way they provide local analog broadcast.
But they do therein lies the problem with that reasoning. All OTA channels - analog or digital - are provided in-the-clear, no scrambling or encryption whatsoever. If you possess your own clearQAM or OpenCable tuner (which are
available on the open market for consumer purchase, many integrated into new televisions), you don't have to pay a dime more to the cable company than what you're already paying for limited basic to get those channels. That the customer may not currently possess the proper tuner to receive those channels isn't the cable company's fault.
They may charge you to rent an HD QAM tuner ($6.45 in your case), and may be making a tidy profit on the side, but that's no different than how they distribute any of their tuners we're still paying a $10/mo lease on any SD digital cable box (well, $5 for the lease, $5 for the access fee, and the first is included with the digital package), the HD version is just $5 more (and the DVR another $5 on top of that).
But that's not the only profit with which Emmis is concerned. The problem with Emmis's reasoning is that they think the cable company would make more money off of carrying their signal by upselling their customers with higher-cost HD programming, so they want a cut. But again, how is that any different than what they did with the analog channels? It wasn't that long ago that neither satellite company offered locals, how big a selling point was it that cable did? That didn't change the fact that limited basic was still $9-$12, as mandated by law, regardless of what locals they do or do not carry. They're not making one additional dime off of that channel directly; as long as the laws governing such rates remain in place, they never can. Any additional programming a customer may or may not buy isn't affected by whether Emmis's feeds were carried (if I'm deciding whether or not to subscribe to HBO, the presence or lack thereof CBS-HD is a non-issue), it can only affect their decision to subscribe to Comcast
or not. What Emmis would have them do would require them to raise their limited basic rates, and that's just not an option.
As you said, if that type of receiver were available - either free or for purchase from outside the cable company - then their argument falls flat on its face. We've already got one of those qualifications, it won't be long before the other is met as well. What Emmis is doing now only amounts to extortion.