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Friday, March 3, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 108

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Staff Editorial


EDITORIAL BOARD

John Harp                                 Ed De La Garza 
Jason Caesar Consolacion     Jim Parsons


Nothing but static

Depending on the results of negotiations between KTRK Channel 13 and Time Warner Cable, which were to end this morning at 12 a.m., many of you may have had to make it to class without your daily fix of The View or (gasp) All My Children.

Though the company receives "static" for its stranglehold on the greater Houston area, don't blame Time Warner for this one.

Disney, the company which owns ABC (Channel 13 here), has been attempting to re-negotiate a contract with Time Warner since December 99. Allegedly, Disney was to allow the Disney Channel on basic cable, removing it from Time Warner's list of premium channels. The cable company would have also added two new channels -- Toon Disney and SoapNet.

Disney counters that there was never a deal, and that it is Time Warner's fault for not negotiating. Thus, Disney is pulling the plug on KTRK. Oh, but there aren't any bitter feelings either way. That's why KTRK is graciously offering a $99 rebate to cable subscribers who switch to satellite dishes.

Time Warner is offering free antenna kits to subscribers wishing to pick up Channel 13 the old-fashioned way. As of today, upward of 500 subscribers had inquired about the kits.

Disney is using Houston in an attempt to back out of a deal. Why Houston? That's a good question, considering cities such as Los Angeles and New York (also going through the same ordeal) were given 30-day extensions as opposed to Houston's 24-hour grace period.

While Houston is the fourth largest city in America, it is only the 10th or 11th (it goes back and forth between the Bayou City and Atlanta) largest television market. Basically, Disney gets to pull its weight in a large metropolitan city while still keeping the big markets happy (for the time being).

Two media giants are standing in the way of 75 percent of Houston cable subscribers' ability to see the most watched network affiliate in the city.

Cable subscribers do pay extra, but broadcast stations have to be included on cable channel line-ups. It has something to do with the public owning the public airwaves. And wouldn't you know it -- KTRK uses public airwaves to broadcast its signal.

So no, Disney isn't merely flexing its muscle with Time Warner. No, Time Warner isn't merely flexing back. They're both infringing on the public's right. We're losing more than just General Hospital.
 

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