Originally posted by w9wi
In Sinclair's defense (and remember, I work for one of their competitors... but the below is strictly my personal opinion)
Please keep in mine that my reply always includes the phrase "With all due respect (WADR)" first.
A significant portion of the audience that's subscribing to Comcast Digital Cable is doing so to receive HD locals WKRN/WSMV/WTVF/WZTV.
I'm one of those people, but WADR, you're kidding, right? The number of HD sets out there in Nashville has to still be a very small minority of the digital cable tier customers out there. And digital cable in people's homes longer in most cases than HD televisions. Finally, it is a myth that you need Comcast's digital cable tier to receive HD. I'm on their "Limited Basic" service which gets you all the HD locals and INHD 1 & 2 thrown in. Since I primarily use DirecTV, I didn't need to duplicate that service in its entirety. Without HD locals, I wouldn't be using Comcast at all.
WKRN/WSMV/WTVF/WZTV have spent enormous quantities to get a HD signal on the air.
True, but Comcast was not the cause of all this...a federal government mandate was. Comcast also has had to spend large sums to upgrade their network for HD.
Comcast is reaping financial benefits from this effort, as thousands of subscribers pay extra for digital cable and HD boxes.
Perhaps, but so are the local stations. I've been watching a lot more of WKRN, WSMV and WTVF in recent months because of their HD content. Which means I've been watching more of their advertisers too. And again, you don't need digital cable to get Comcast HD locals. The HD box fee is $5 a month, which is reasonable considering alternatives. Given the increased cost of the boxes, I doubt seriously they are making much money off of them.
And the four OTA stations see none of this extra revenue.
Again, more people watching your station means more ad revenue, especially as the number of HDTV owners increase.
I don't think it's at all unreasonable for Sinclair to expect a fair share of Comcast's HD revenue - after all, if none of the local OTA stations were HD, Comcast would be doing a lot less HD business.
Sinclair got the rights to the HDTV broadcast spectrum for nothing. All this hubbub is caught up in the old "must carry" statute that Congress passed ages ago that said that local cablecos had to carry every local affiliate, no matter how big or small. The local stations benefited since they were guarenteed that a large audience would see their signals unfetered by the limitations of OTA technology (antennas). In those days, the CableCos wanted to charge the local stations for access to them, largely to pay for their massive construction costs in a given area. That didn't happen, but the local cable stations were allowed to insert some advertising to pay for their costs to present the locals on their network.
So now the shoe is on the other foot and some local stations want to charge the CableCos. But Comcast is now interpreting the "must carry" rule as including HD signals. At $11 a month, I doubt they are making much money on me, but at least they are being consistent about their policy on "limited basic". I benefit, but the local stations that are providing their signal to Comcast also benefit by my patronage. Putting an antenna on my house is a major PITA, especially where I live since OTA reception is terrible due to terrain. Sinclair's campaign of "Free HDTV" ignores the fact that most HD sets in people's homes are monitors only...which means they would have to spend extra on an ATSC tuner, the right antenna, someone to install it, etc, etc. Without FoxHD on Comcast, I'm not watching Fox at all. Is that what they really want?