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What Happens When Cable And Broadcasting Companies End Up In A Pricing Dispute?

Updated on August 5, 2014
Time Warner Cable building entrance at 4200 Paramount Parkway in Morrisville, North Carolina.
Time Warner Cable building entrance at 4200 Paramount Parkway in Morrisville, North Carolina. | Source

This For That

Having worked in the cable and communications industry, I do know a thing or two about what happens between a cable and broadcasting company when they undergo pricing and programming negotiations.

It's a dirty, dirty, nasty, little business where greed overruns a never-ending loop of retransmission demands, and in the end, one way or another, it is usually the consumer who pays the inevitable price.

FCC Regulations

The first thing you need to know is by federal regulation, the cable industry can not sell each cable channel individually. To the insiders of the industry, the 'a la carte' ideal is the cable subscribers dream, and as long as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates and protects the rights of the broadcasting companies over this issue as a consumer do realize that this option will NEVER happen!

Please remember, the next time you call a cable representative and start to complain, hammering with the age old question ...


Be it known from here on out that all broadcast stations are guaranteed to be carried on a system of tiers. Don't be the ignorant subscriber who doesn't have a clue.

You no longer have an excuse.

Comcast Center, the headquarters of Comcast
Comcast Center, the headquarters of Comcast | Source

Who's In Control?

It is usually the broadcasting company who makes a demand since the law does give the broadcasters the right to make the cable companies pay for their programming, and it is up to the cable company to match, meet, or disagree with the broadcasting company's terms.

Here's the catch: Cable companies do not need on-air stations for their success.

However, broadcasting companies DO NEED cable companies to distribute their carriage based on the fact that paid advertisers need viewership.

When all is said and done, it is the cable companies who hold the upper hand.

It is important to know that as long as the cable companies hold out and do not cave in to broadcasting companies and their pricing structure demands, then you as the consumer are protected from outrageous price hikes.

So here's another tip the next time you call a cable company and complain that your favorite channel is blacked-out because of on-going negotiations. You might want to sit back and just be patient. Yes, you might lose out on your favorite show, but usually, the cable company is gratuitous enough to credit you back for the time and loss of your channel during negotiations, and you as the consumer eventually win win.

Personal Note

I'm one of those consumers who prefer On Demand programming like Netflix over subscribing to a set digital cable provider. Because I like to stay up to date with continuous world wide news, I do still subscribe to a basic cable package, but that is the extent of my programming.

More and more people are ditching the cable companies in preference to more control over what it is that they need and actually view.

Perhaps one day the cable and broadcasting companies will finally recognize the need to do a major overhaul of the entire industry. It is very likely the FCC regulations may one day have to allow for the 'a la carte' option as the consumer demands. However, this move is a last resort step in the event the industry should flop going belly-up in lieu of consumer abandonment.

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© 2013 ziyena


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  • ziyena profile image

    ziyena 3 years ago from Southern Colorado

    nanderson500 ~ Definitely Starz for me ... I got have a preview first look at the new series "The White Queen" and I'm hooked. What a sucker I am ... nice to meet you :)

  • nanderson500 profile image

    nanderson500 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

    Very interesting article and a great topic. It would definitely be nice if I could subscribe to only the channels I watch and not have to pay for the rest. I am actually a big HBO and Showtime watcher, but other than that I don't have much use for cable except news (and football games).

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

    I'm one who also only want the news, which right now I search for online. On my island the cable subscribers complain about the high cost for stations they do not enjoy, but they still subscribe. Me? I save my complaints. Thank you for raising these issues.

  • cleaner3 profile image

    cleaner3 3 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

    yep .. again great hub ZZz.. you and I are the same ..I watch news constantly .. but also like some different programming once in a while.


  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

    Interesting. I subscribe to basic cable (Century Link, which is also my phone company). I'm not interested in HBO, Showtime or any of those other premium channels. As long as I have HGTV, Food Network, TV Land, Lifetime and the major networks, I'm a happy viewer.

  • ziyena profile image

    ziyena 3 years ago from Southern Colorado

    Alot people take it out on the cable company representatives. Here they are just trying to make an honest living, and yet they take alot of crap from the consumer because of friction between two major corporations haggling over greed. You're right though ... relating to pizza and cheeseburgers ... makes so much more sense to please the consumer!

  • EricDockett profile image

    Eric Dockett 3 years ago from USA

    Interesting to see an inside perspective. As one of the people who complains that I can't have each individual channel I want without subscribing to the whole thing, I always suspected the reasoning was something like what you mentioned in this Hub. IMO, that still doesn't make it okay, no matter whose fault it is. It's like going into a fast food restaurant and them saying you can't have a cheeseburger unless you buy a pizza, a turkey dinner, a Denver omelet and a pecan pie too. In any event, you've sparked my interest to do a little more research on this. The cable tv . . . not the cheeseburger. :-)

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