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HD carriage dispute w/ ABC/ESPN/Disney


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#141 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:30 AM

Note that the $65 million over two years and 14 million customers paying monthly is about 2c per month per DISH subscriber. (Yes, that includes non-HD subs but it also includes interest due to DISH's lack of timely payment.)

I still need to read other documents, but from what I gather the interest may not have been ruled upon yet, and depending on the time period awards Disney may yet still be entitled to more damages.

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#142 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:40 AM

Perhaps I haven't expressed my concerns very well. Let me try this again, perhaps by starting with the what I perceive as the "TV channel" model for the early 21st century.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have KGO 7, a broadcast TV channel owned and operated by Disney/ABC. As of the analog shutdown, it transmits over-the-air digital channels 7.1 (KGO/ABC programming), 7.2 (ABC News/Live Well HD) and 7.3 (ABC7 AccuWeather NOW).

As everyone on this forum understands from this, KGO 7 transmits one over-the-air digital version of ABC network (and KGO local) programming. This is a good example of the early 21st century model of a TV channel.

Here in the 21st century, if you still have an old analog SD 480i TV in 4:3 format, you have to buy a box to convert the one-and-only KGO signal offering network programming. If you have one of those digital-tuner SD TV's folks pointed out to me still can be purchased (in 16:9 format) you already can receive the one-and-only KGO signal offering network programming.

If you have an HDTV - you know, an early 21st century TV like the one I've had since 2003 - you can watch KGO's ABC network programming in its true format, delivered by the one-and-only signal (I'm ignoring the old grumble about stations still using SD programming).

Now we come to cable/satellite providers. Under this TV channel model, there is one channel offering Disney-owned ABC programming in the Bay Area DMA - KGO 7.1 digital HD. For awhile, Comcast continued to offer an analog version, but they are shifting to digital only requiring those with analog TV's to have an additional box. All satellite providers begin with a digital-only signal and have provided one or more analog outputs so you don't have to buy a box for your old 480i 4:3 TV.

My point here is that there is one ABC affiliate channel - KGO 7.1 - being transmitted digitally over-the-air. You must have a digital tuner to receive it. If you watch it on an SD TV, that's your choice, but its native format is 720p 16:9 HD. It is TV in 2010, there is no other version of ABC in the Bay Area.

In 2010, cable and satellite providers should be paying for that one Disney-owned KGO channel, not two. Because that is the way TV works in 2010.

Well, at least that's the way I thought TV works in 2010 until I read this court order. Apparently in the Magic Kingdom (and perhaps in other media conglomerate fictions) two time periods exist simultaneously:
  • the late 20th century where an SD channel exists offering programming that involves producers, writers, actors, camera operators, set decorators, etc., who live in the 20th century; and
  • the early 21st century where an HD channel exists offering programming that involves producers, writers, actors, camera operators, set decorators, etc., who live in the 21st century.
By some some miracle of 21st century time travel, Disney (and perhaps other media conglomerate fictions) can deliver a set of programs on one channel from the 20th century as well as a set of programs from the 21st century. And Disney desires ...no... demands that the cable and satellite providers carry both channels of programming and charge me for them.

Me, on the other hand, doesn't see the difference in the programming - it appears to have involved the same production costs - albeit accomplished through the Magic Kingdom's time travel. In fact, it looks suspiciously like the programming's native format is digital 16:9 HD and if there are additional costs incurred, it is to downrez to SD and reformat to 4:3 aspect that was not intended for that.

But some technology-challenged judge at the urging of the Disney folks decided to say (emphasis added):

Defendants license programming networks, consisting of standard definition and high definition programming, to distributors such as EchoStar.

The problem is the word "programming." According to Wikipedia:

A television program (television programme in the United Kingdom, Ireland and many Commonwealth countries) or television show is a segment of content broadcast on television. It may be a one-off broadcast or part of a periodically recurring television series.

"Programming" is content which could be created in 16:9 color HD 3D and delivered in black and white in the old British 576i format and would still be the same content, the same "programming" at least as I understand the TV-biz language.

I'm not willing to accept without protest an absurd TV business model that would have viewers paying for a black and white 576i channel, a black and white 480i channel, a color 576i channel, a color 480i channel and a color 1080i (or 720p) channel all delivering content originally produced for a color 1080i (or 720p) channel.

And I'm not willing to accept without protest an absurd TV business model that has viewers paying for "only" a color 480i channel and a color 1080i (or 720p) channel all delivering content originally produced for a color 1080i (or 720p) channel.

What has gone wrong here is that just because many people still have 480i TVs, instead of delivering one signal like off-the-air we have satellite and cable delivering two signals and Disney and the court describing them as two separate programming channels.

Now tell me that isn't absurd. Maybe I should pay for better technology, but I shouldn't have to pay to have these companies actually deliver lessor technology. And right now, that is what is going on. Tell me those of us with HDTVs aren't paying for duplicate channels in SD and not even getting some channels now producing new programming in HD?

Give me a cogent argument that says any channel that is native 1080i (or 720p) should be offered or carried in 480i by a cable or satellite company when off-the-air the federal government, the channel, and now Comcast (in some places) have already said if you want to watch it on a 480i analog TV, buy a box to convert it. Otherwise join us in the 21st century, which is now over 10 years old.

After all, WRAL began broadcasting in HD in 1996. The ATSC HDTV system had its public launch on October 29, 1998, with live coverage of astronaut John Glenn's return mission to space on board the Space Shuttle Discovery. That was 12 years ago, or 4 generations by technology advancement standards.

Why should I pay for a 480i signal of ABC Family or Disney or ESPN or any other channel? HD isn't some standard just now available for "early adopters." Certainly in June 2010 high definition TV is "standard" TV.

What don't I understand? I know I'm old, so maybe I've missed something younger folks who grew up with computer technology accept. Maybe a lot of folks have opted for technology to stop with their Commodore 64 PCs and their 480i TVs and we all have to adapt backwards to them?:grin:

Edited by phrelin, 29 June 2010 - 09:49 AM.
typo

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#143 OFFLINE   tsmacro

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:41 AM

When was the last time the price of HD was raised? DISH has taken some channels out of the original $10.00 package but they have added a lot more than have been moved to Platinum HD.

I remember when $9.99 got you five channels, and the opportunity to see HBO and/or Showtime (if you subscribed to AEP or the premium packages). Now $10 can give you a lot more.


Yep I agree completely. That's why I was saying it's silly for people to expect a credit because "Dish took away some channels from me and i'm paying the same price."


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#144 OFFLINE   inazsully

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:49 AM

I think that sometimes we forget why any channel exists. Profit. Mash was a great show, as was Cheers and Gunsmoke and Law and Order. But they eventually all went away. Why? Because they lost viewers. And why did the networks care? Because it became difficult to sell advertising time. The networks spend millions every year to produce these and all other shows. They eventually fell below acceptable profit margins. Every year we see dozens of new shows replacing shows that didn't make it from a profitability standpoint. Why? To sell advertising. Advertising is where the vast majority of a stations profits come from, not contracts with various cable and sat. companies. I will no longer watch SD, PERIOD. Let the advertisers know that their advertising will fall on blind eyes unless it's in HD. That's where the real leverage is.

#145 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:14 AM

My point here is that there is one ABC affiliate channel - KGO 7.1 - being transmitted digitally over-the-air. You must have a digital tuner to receive it. If you watch it on an SD TV, that's your choice, but its native format is 720p 16:9 HD. It is TV in 2010, there is no other version of ABC in the Bay Area.

In 2010, cable and satellite providers should be paying for that one Disney-owned KGO channel, not two. Because that is the way TV works in 2010.

We do not know the status of carriage for OTA contracts. Now that there is no "analog" equivalent, we do not know if multichannel carriers are being forced to pay for both an SD and and HD equivalent. We do know that many station groups (including Sinclair in 2005) mandated separate fees for both their analog and their digital channels. It is quite possible once the analog cut-off occurred there were changes within contracts, either renegotiated or standing in the current agreement.

What we do know is that although there was the ability to pick up both the analog and the digital version of these stations before the analog cut-off, there were many station groups that digitized their analog channel and sent it via fibre to a point of presence. Therefore, that 480i channel existed as the analog station prior to the analog cut-off, and can still exist in that form today, delivered to your provider under contract from the programmer.

Why should I pay for a 480i signal of ABC Family or Disney or ESPN or any other channel? HD isn't some standard just now available for "early adopters." Certainly in June 2010 high definition TV is "standard" TV.

Yes, and as you pointed out to me, Dish Network finally stopped charging extra for HD as of 3 June 2010, although techically there are extra monthly fees in additional HD equipment. DirecTV still charges for it. I'm fairly certain most cable companies charge extra for it in the form STB rental if not simply an add-on package. So this "standard TV" costs extra.

The reality is that all providers still charge extra for HD, the programmers charge extra for HD, and the easiest (and hardest) way to "fix" the problem is to vote with your wallet and your eyeballs.

[Edit: then again, I see that Dish Network has AT120, AT180, AT250, and then an additional $10 fee for the HD feeds, so they are still charging extra]

Edited by Greg Bimson, 29 June 2010 - 10:27 AM.


#146 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:40 AM

I still need to read other documents, but from what I gather the interest may not have been ruled upon yet, and depending on the time period awards Disney may yet still be entitled to more damages.

It is confusing ... there is a document from last October that mentions interest but it exceeds the $65 million that has been talked about. There would obviously be additional finance charge due per month that the bill remained unpaid.

The thought was that the base cost, if paid on time, would have been negligible.

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#147 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:52 AM

My point here is that there is one ABC affiliate channel - KGO 7.1 - being transmitted digitally over-the-air. You must have a digital tuner to receive it.

Fine. If you have a few billion dollars you can upgrade every satellite receiver in the country to one that can use the HD feed. Until then, there will be SD channels.

In 2010, cable and satellite providers should be paying for that one Disney-owned KGO channel, not two. Because that is the way TV works in 2010.

Pay TV isn't the same as "free" OTA TV.

And I'm not willing to accept without protest an absurd TV business model that has viewers paying for "only" a color 480i channel and a color 1080i (or 720p) channel all delivering content originally produced for a color 1080i (or 720p) channel.

Your protest is duly noted. You, sir, have done your duty and tilted at the windmill. :D

In the real world we pay because we can't get the content for free. Those who can get the content for free (via OTA or legitimate distribution sites such as Hulu) don't have to pay for the classic cable/satellite distribution model. If you want to play the cable/satellite game you must play by the rules that the industry follows ... and, logical or not and whether you or I agree with them or not, those rules involve paying for the feed and paying a little bit more to have the feed in better quality.

#148 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 11:03 AM

Edit: then again, I see that Dish Network has AT120, AT180, AT250, and then an additional $10 fee for the HD feeds, so they are still charging extra

DISH Network still allows their customers to pay $10 per month for the basic HD packages (HD120, HD200, HD250).
DISH Network also offers free HD packages (HD120 Free, HD200 Free, HD250 Free). The Free HD packages require a commitment, autopay and paperless billing, or the payment of a one time $99 fee. Customers who had HD & Platinum HD before June 3rd were automatically converted to the HDxxx Free package appropriate to their level of programming - with no commitment/autopay/paperless or extra cost.

HD is free ... or it is $10. It all depends on how and when you got HD.

#149 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:23 PM

Looks like I need to read a heck of a lot more:

1. The amount of interest with respect to the calculation of interest after the 30th day is allocated as follows:

a) ESPN = $42,562,834 plus pre-judgment interest of $8,080,758
B) ACNG = $9,287,094 plus pre-judgment interest of $1,907,481
c) IFE = $2,715,904 plus pre-judgment interest of $486,158

This is the $65 million that was awarded.

This all has to do with the interest accrued for failure of Dish Network to pay Disney in a timely manner.

I have to wonder, which means I'll have to dig up (or James will :) ) any documentation regarding damages for carrying channels without compensation. With a successful counterclaim, Disney can now walk back into court and demand damages for carrying four HD channels without compensation.

#150 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 01:35 PM

I recognize that I'm tilting at windmills, guys. I expect to pay for technology costs and my own tastes. I can't go to one of the all-HD packages because there are channels missing, some like AMC Dish offers only in SD and some like BBC and FX aren't in the all HD packages. And I can't cancel Disney channels in my AT200 package.

Nor do I know who all at Dish decided it was ok to uplink the Disney and ABC Family HD feeds or why they thought that. I thought a contract had been negotiated when they were added. If they didn't, then they'll have to pay.

With that said, I still think it's stupid for cable and satellite companies to lock themselves into contracts that pretend that SD and HD feeds of the same channel are two channels. What this fiction means is that sometime around 2018-2020 the cable and satellite companies will want to quit offering SD, but the media conglomerates will not want to lose that 2-channel revenue.

Also, providing an SD feed of the content does not mean a carrier has to seek out two signals from the network. Even if Dish has to offer MPEG2 SD feeds because of the boxes out there, it can do so by reformatting and uplinking the HD channel content (in letterbox top and bottom bars). Heck, they already screw with the HD content they get and send out as MPEG4 HD. They shouldn't need to buy two channels from Disney or anyone else.

It's just weird that when broadcast channels go HD, OTA viewers get what they get including a "hey, you gotta get a box." But when a cable channel goes HD, the cable and satellite companies must buy two signals termed by the court as different programming.

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#151 OFFLINE   l8er

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 01:46 PM

.... must buy two signals termed by the court as different programming.

In thinking back - there have some instances where the HD version of a channel had an entirely different programming lineup than the SD version. (HGTV is one example). But I think those days are long gone now that digital (and to some extent HD) is becoming the new standard. So paying twice for the same programming is ridiculous (at the distribution level).
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#152 OFFLINE   altidude

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 03:36 PM

I just want my DisneyXD HD back. "Kick Buttkowski" and "Phineas and Ferb" in SD just isn't right.

#153 OFFLINE   Michael P

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 03:58 PM

but the channel providers did expend extra money to get those feeds started

Some did but others not so much. Case in point CMT "HD". I've yet to see real HD on CMT HD. For the Blue Collar Comedy film they had 16 X 9 formatted image within a letterbox! There are other examples too. Bottom line many of our new "free" HD channels are not ready for HD at all.
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#154 OFFLINE   sigma1914

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 04:19 PM

Some did but others not so much. Case in point CMT "HD". I've yet to see real HD on CMT HD. For the Blue Collar Comedy film they had 16 X 9 formatted image within a letterbox! There are other examples too. Bottom line many of our new "free" HD channels are not ready for HD at all.


There's been a few shows in HD on CMT. Their recent awards show was HD.
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#155 OFFLINE   BillJ

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 04:26 AM

I remember when $9.99 got you five channels, and the opportunity to see HBO and/or Showtime (if you subscribed to AEP or the premium packages). Now $10 can give you a lot more.


Back in the mid 90's my cable company charged $10 for a single HBO channel. And the audio wasn't in stereo because they wouldn't spend the money to install the right equipment at their download site. (They were giving us OTA network channels in stereo at the time.) That's what drove me to become one of DISH's early customers. I got several HBO channels all in stereo for my $10.

#156 OFFLINE   tlouwhite

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 10:59 AM

It more and more becoming the case where a channel will down res its HD for its SD feed. So, in essence the SD feed creates MORE work since the HD feed already exists.

That's why you see station IDs and game scores 1/6th of the way into the screen rather than in the corner and the outside edges of a 16X9 feed devoid of graphics.

#157 OFFLINE   lparsons21

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 11:23 AM

For all the discussion of this here and in other satellite svc sites, I'm amazed that the volume is so low about it. And in casual conversations with friends that have Dish, there is nothing except noticing it. No real complaints.

That doesn't bode well for Disney because if the viewers aren't complaining loudly, then Dish has little incentive to bend. Maybe it is because the HD on the channels isn't so hot, or doesn't matter much.

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#158 OFFLINE   Tony S

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 11:43 AM

For all the discussion of this here and in other satellite svc sites, I'm amazed that the volume is so low about it. And in casual conversations with friends that have Dish, there is nothing except noticing it. No real complaints.

That doesn't bode well for Disney because if the viewers aren't complaining loudly, then Dish has little incentive to bend. Maybe it is because the HD on the channels isn't so hot, or doesn't matter much.


I wouldn't have even known that the Disney HD channels were missing if I hadn't read about it here and on the other site.

The Disney channels are mostly for kids...Yes, I know some adults watch it too, but primarily it is kids who watch these channels. Most kids don't care/notice if it is HD or SD. They can still watch their shows in SD, so most of them won't care.

If Disney forced Dish to remove the regular ESPN HD channels you would see a lot of protesting, but ESPN news in SD is not that different from ESPN news in HD...so again, most people don't care that much.

#159 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 12:14 PM

I'd notice more if Kyle XY was still in production ... there might be something good on ABC Family but I have not looked at any of the four channels intentionally.

The last thing I saw on ABC Family was a few weeks ago when visiting inlaws and flipping channels on their cable system (SD, of course). I saw the beginning of The 700 Club. Right before the show there was a warning slate about the views expressed, etc. Obviously it was their fault for selling out, but seeing such a dire warning before the only show left from the original format reminded me of what has changed over the years. "Christian" programming became "family" programming (perhaps less offensive) and then became part of the monolithic ABC/Disney corporation.

I probably should set a timer for Who's Line ... that seems to be worth watching.

#160 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 01:17 PM

Actually, ABC Family focuses a lot on teen angst and serious problems and has a Monday night lineup that is unusual:
  • "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" started out addressing the struggle of a middle class 15-year-old girl who found herself pregnant after one experience at band camp. The problem with the show is that gradually became focused on who's having sex or is going to have sex - including the parents, who seem to sleep around and get pregnant inadvertently. The show, now in its third season, has had decent ratings. But we dropped it from our schedule last season as did one other member I know of.
  • "Huge" is about seven teens from different backgrounds attending a weight loss camp and about their individual journeys of self discovery and issues of self-esteem, friendship, rivalry, romance and body image. Nikki Blonsky ("Hairspray") is the name star. It was on our schedule to check out, but with the HD channel gone it disappeared from our recording schedule.
  • "Make It or Break It", now in its second season, is about the world of high stakes (world class/Olympic class) gymnastics. It's good. But with too much already recorded, the loss of HD made it disappear from our schedule also.
According to a news release the two returning shows have high ratings among Females 12-34, Women 18-34 and Viewers 12-34. We don't have any of those in our household. But it doesn't mean that these shows don't have something to say to every demographic.

Of course, if they just disappear from one's recording schedule, they have nothing to say.:sure:

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