HEY TIME-WARNER, I WANT MY C-SPAN!
by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.
[September 13, 2007]
[HollywoodInvestigator.com] Shame on Time-Warner Cable. Upon buying Adelphia Cable in Santa Monica
early this year, they dropped C-SPAN 2 from basic tier and replaced it
with...a blank screen.
Time-Warner is a private company. And though cable systems
lobbied government for the power to violate others' property rights (such
as by forcing landlords and property owners to grant easements inside their
buildings and across their lands), I suppose Time-Warner has a right to
drop C-SPAN 2 from basic tier. But that doesn't mean I have to like
Why should you care? Because most "news" outlets are partisan and
dummied-down. Consider Neocon Radio, where blowhards confuse supporting
troops with supporting the war, supporting America, and supporting President
Bush (four distinct issues, sometimes overlapping, sometimes
not). Nor are complexities clarified on Air America Radio, whose hosts simultaneously
bash Bush for fighting an "immoral and illegal war" and for not
fighting it effectively; for busting the budget and for spending
Amid this idiocracy, C-SPAN shines as a stark example of unbiased, intelligent, in- depth political
coverage. (Not that I dispute Time-Warner's right to stifle unbiased,
intelligent, in-depth political coverage.)
C-SPAN stands for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. There are three
of them: C-SPAN 1, C-SPAN 2, and C-SPAN 3. If you're not watching,
you should be. You should hope your neighbors are watching, too. To pull off their dirty deeds, politicians, lobbyists, and pundits require
an uninformed electorate. C-SPAN keeps you informed. Sure, Washington insiders lie on C-SPAN,
just as they lie on other networks. But at least C-SPAN provides balanced coverage. All candidates -- even from minor parties
-- are given time to voice their message.
Contrast that with Fox "We Report, You Decide" News, which censored GOP
presidential candidate Ron
Paul's victory over both Thompsons (Fred and Tommy) and Giuliani in
an Iowa straw poll last August. Maybe Fox News feared that if it
reported Paul's victory, you might decide "wrongly."
Unlike Fox News, C-SPAN does report, letting you decide. (Not that I deny Time-Warner's
right to favor censorship over unbiased reporting.)
In addition to covering the House and Senate, C-SPAN produces intelligent and respectful political talk shows. Their hosts
don't argue with callers, or insult them, or twist their words. Their
hosts listen with deadpan faces, letting you, the caller, have your full
say – uninterrupted. C-SPAN hosts never interject their own opinions. Even when a caller asks,
"What do you think about X?" the host only replies, "What do you think
about X, caller?"
You don't get that respect on most cable talk shows, where discussions
quickly degenerate into heated, vapid, sound bite battles. (Not that
I challenge Time- Warner's right to foster idiocy and disrespect.)
Like most companies, Time-Warner trumpets its commitment to public service. That should include public access TV (an early form of YouTube) and C-SPAN,
as those were among the services the cable systems promised long ago, when
they first sought the monopoly privilege to wire neighborhoods. (Not
I contest Time-Warner's right to renounce public service.)
Ironically, Time-Warner in Santa Monica dropped C-SPAN 2 from basic tier
just as it (and other cable monopolies) beat back an attempt by broadcasters
to push "multicast, must carry" through the Federal Communications Commission. This proposed regulation would have forced cable systems to give additional
free space to local broadcasters, leaving less space for the three C-SPAN channels.
According to a February 2, 2007 C-SPAN statement, "Unlike broadcast stations, the C-SPAN networks have no government mandated guarantee of the right to be distributed
by cable operators." A September 5, 2007 statement indicates that
the danger of "multitask, must carry" has passed for now, but remains a
potential future threat. (For details and updates, see MustCarry.org.)
So it seems Time-Warner doesn't have to surrender additional channel space
to broadcasters. It's free to leave channel 68 (C-SPAN 2's former
home) a pretty, blank, blue screen. But Time-Warner must still contend
with consumer opinion.
Hey, Time-Warner! I want my C-SPAN! All three of them! On basic tier!
If you want your C-SPAN, tell your cable operator. And if it dropped
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