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Time Warner Cable and Local HDTV Channels ??

541 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  gmclaughlin
Our local CBS channel started HDTV broadcasting on May 1, 2002 but our TWC does not provide this service "as of yet".

Does anyone know how long it takes TWC to start their HDTV tranmissions of the local channels. I have a lcd HDTV pj and am dependent on the Scientific America HDTV tuner box for reception. Is there anyway to recieve the the OTA hdtv with a front pj. ?????


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Be patient dre. If they're offering a HD box, they've got every intention of giving you some local channels to go along with your HBO-HD and Showtime-HD.

Our local CBS affiliate was simulcasting in HD months before our TWC office started broadcasting it. There's negotiations & hoops that have to be jumped through first and that takes some time.

Our ABC and NBC affiliates supposedly went HD a couple of weeks ago but I'm sure it'll be a month or so before TWC starts with their signals.

You might want to go to the local HD programming area and check for anything on your affiliate there. There may be someone in your own back yard that's already posted info that could help you.

My thoughts are that if TWC is working on bringing you network affiliates in HD, I'd wait it out rather than to mess with an OTA box and antenna.
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You don't mention where you live, and it's not in your profile, but I feel pretty confident the locals will be on. We at Time Warner have to solve technical issues, and copyright issues, before we can put any programming on the system.

Technically, they have to solve how they're going to get the signal from the broadcaster to the headend (OTA, or via fibre transport, and if fibre, who's paying for it?), how to statistically multiplex the signal into the existing channel structure, and rewrite the digital controller software to include the new programming.

From the copyright standpoint, TWC can't carry any programming without the permission of the programmer, in this case, the local broadcasters. That permission, "Digital Retransmission Consent", sometimes does, and sometimes doesn't come without cost. Sometimes it gets linked to bigger issues as a bargaining chip. I personally fought for six months to get the ABC digital on our system -- it's not necessarily easy.
Greg - First, let me say your posts are always interesting to read. Thank you. Second, if it doesn't violate any confidentiality rules, would you be able to discuss some of the reasons it took six months to get the ABC digital channel on your system? I'm curious what's involved in something like this. Thanks, again.
In NYC, HBO &SHO HDTV, which has been free for the last nine months, suddenly went off. Instead, a subscription fee for both. They said I had been accidently receiving it as part of $50 month package. Is that correct?
Always thought the two 8-VSB HD channels on NYC's TWC (one, CBS, since last summer) were generally freebies. But I've also assumed that HDTV HBO and Showtime, using TWC's 2000HD converter, required paying for them as non-HDTV premium channels. -- John
As I usually work for the Central Florida division, I can only speculate on what's going on in NYC. I know that HBO and SHO require us to sell subscription to the package before anyone gets the HD version. I know most of you would never pay for the HBO package, if the only one you want, HBO HD, was free without it. HBO knows it too. They don't get paid unless we get paid, and we are in this as a business.

Stephen C: Sorry, but it would definitely violate confidentiality aspects, and I wasn't the guy doing the direct negotiations. Instead, let me discuss a hypothetical case.

The FCC gives local broadcasters the right to demand "must-carry" from a cable system, where the cable company has to carry the broadcaster's signal, but without compensation. The broadcaster will be paid in the form of higher advertising rates due to increase viewership, particularly when 70% of the customers get programming through cable. Without those customers, and likely without the satellite customers as well (another 15%?), the ad revenues are going to be meager indeed.

The broadcaster does not have to demand must-carry however. Perhaps the cable company needs to have that programming enough that they will agree to "compensate" the broadcaster for letting them carry it. As the broadcaster holds the local copyright to the programming, without their permission, the cable operator is out of luck. But so is the broadcaster. In my military life, we called this "Mutually Assured Destruction", and the game of brinksmanship is played here as well.

So who demands "must-carry" and who invokes "retransmission agreement"? If you're sure cable customers will scream "bloody murder" if the company drops your programming, then try retransmission agreement. If they might not even notice you're gone...then must carry. Generally, the big networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, etc) go retransmission agreement, independents go must carry.

As some local broadcasters are owned by mega-conglomerates (i.e. Meridith, Clear Channel, etc.), we sometimes get handed "national" deals worked out by out Corporate folks up North. Others we have to negotiate locally. Generally, each type of programming (analog, digital, etc) requires its own permission, sometimes in one deal, or in separate deals.

Any number of things can get wrapped up in a deal, and this is lawyer territory for certain. I'm not sure if the network allows the locals to "sell" the programming, but they can demand compensation in other forms. We buy a lot of local advertising -- they may require we spend a certain amount with them. They may demand a certain amount of advertising on our systems at free or preferred rates. Any number of technical issues can get wrapped in. Who pays what costs to get the signal to the head end?

These things can be easy, or they can get really ugly. A few years back, TWC and ABC (read: Disney) got into a huge public "pissing contest" over a retransmission agreement in NYC. Without knowing any of the real details, it's obvious that ABC wanted more from us than we were willing to give, possibly to avoid setting a precedent our other systems would have to follow. Public accusations try to make the other guy the bad guy, but both parties lose.

Does that help?
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