John Colson: Hit and Run
December 31, 2009
As I write this, I am staring at the end of the “Decade From Hell,” as the first decade of the 21st century has been dubbed by certain wags.
Interestingly enough, as you read this, that decade will be a thing of the past by a three-day margin, at the very least, thanks to the time constraints imposed by early deadlines, printing schedules and the like. What I mean is, things may have changed from the time I tap these words into the computer, to the time you read them on the printed page or the Web.
As the end of the year and the decade ticks closer, ever closer, Armageddon lurks outside my window – the Fox channels may go dark on all Time-Warner Cable networks as of midnight tonight, meaning that 13 million cable subscribers would miss out on the New Year’s Day football extravaganzas, not to mention such national favorites as the Simpsons and “House.”
There will be blood in the streets if this happens. Riots in the streets of certain cities are certainly a possibility. According to my research on the Web, large parts of New York City and the hamlet of Tecumseh, Nebraska, share the distinction of service by Time-Warner Cable, and could go up in flames.
According to news reports, those 13 million subscribers – which translates to households, not people, so the number of afflicted TV watchers is higher – live in various big-market towns across the nation.
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The austin360.com website, in Austin, Texas, carried an early-morning story about the failure of negotiations between Rupert Murdoch’s network and the cable giant, Time-Warner.
Austin readers, you may already be caught up in the debacle.
It appears that Fox wants to get $1 per subscriber from the cable company or the “fair and balanced” network will take its toys and play elsewhere. Time-Warner, not exactly a paragon of community values itself, has refused to go along.
Hence, the standoff.
Thankfully, we in the Roaring Fork Valley are not likely to be affected, which should prompt a number of people I know to stop holding their breath and allow their skin to get back to its normal, if somewhat ravaged flesh-tones.
But, once more thanks to a little research on the Web, I understand that Telluride and Gunnison might not be so lucky. I have friends in both towns, so this is my shout out to you – I hope everything is okay.
There are, of course, a number of ramifications to this situation that disturb me greatly, not the least of which is my difficulty in maintaining a proper sense of timing. I mean, I don’t know what’s happened yet, but you do, so how?????
Oh, to hell with it.
I also happen to not really give a damn what happens to Fox, despite my affection for some of the shows the network has produced, and I absolutely could not care less if a football game or two were to be bereft of a few viewers.
But the systemic madness of our entertainment world is something I do care about.
I view this little snit between Murdoch and the TWC bunch as just another symptom of a basic flaw in our society. We have allowed corporations to get too big, too powerful and too insulated from our own needs and wants.
What is it to the rest of us if Fox gets to soak us for yet more money, while giving us increasingly slanted news coverage and violent infotainment programming? (Well, perhaps shareholders would quibble with that statement, but that’s their own fault, not mine.)
I’ll tell you what it is, for most of us – just another stab in the eye by the mysterious forces of corporate control.
We’d all be better off if Fox went dark everywhere, and if TWC’s subscribers went into open revolt, and the rest of the infotainment-industrial-complex collapsed due to an excess of reality shows and “if it bleeds, it leads” news philosophies.