Friday, January 1, 2010

Cablevision Starves Its Viewers Of Food Network And HGTV

Many residents of New York City (and beyond) have a real problem on their hands.

Come Sunday night, they will miss the much touted battle royale between Iron Chefs Mario Batali (with Emeril) and Bobby Flay (with White House Chef Cris Comerford).

Why? Because Cablevision has dropped the Food Network and HGTV from its distribution list, as of midnight, December 31st. This affects more than 3 million Cablevision customers in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas. (I never thought I’d be happy to say I’m a Comcast subscriber.)

Cablevision says that Scripps is being unreasonable in its financial demands to the cable company. Scripps says Cablevision is unbelievably lowballing the content the network gives them. Who is caught in the middle and who will pay the ultimate price? The viewer, of course.

Here is Cablevision’s Statement:

“Unfortunately, Scripps has decided to stop distributing HGTV and Food Network to Cablevision customers upon the expiration of our current agreement at midnight, December 31. We are sorry that Scripps’ current financial difficulties are making it impossible for them to continue our relationship on terms that are reasonable for Cablevision and our customers. We wish Scripps well and have no expectation of carrying their programming again, given the dramatic changes in their approach to working with distributors to reach television viewers.”

From Scripps:

“Viewers love our talent and our shows, which is why Food Network and HGTV rank among the top networks in cable,” said Kenneth W. Lowe, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Scripps Networks Interactive. “But our valuable networks simply are not being compensated like top ten networks by Cablevision. The distribution rates Cablevision pays for Food and HGTV are among the lowest in the industry.”

Among Scripps’ arguments is that Cablevision customers pay an average subscription rate of $83 per month. The monthly fee Cablevision pays for Food Network and HGTV combined is less than 25 cents.”

I think EVERY cable customer, anywhere, with ANY company, thinks he or she is being overcharged ALREADY for cable service. Add to that taking away someone’s favorite channels and I would be royally pissed. Food Network fans obviously think the Food Network should be included in any lineup.

Cablevision wants to wring pennies out of every deal and Scripps obviously gambled that consumers would fight back, when threatened with losing the whole gamut of new shows of FN and HGTV have been promo-ing mercilessly. It’s rather sleazy that Scripps waited until the AFTER the 11th hour to enlist viewer support.

What’s a consumer to do? You can visit, where they suggest you send an email protesting Cablevision’s action.

They also tell you to call 1-866-695-BEST (2378). That turns out to be HGTV and they will give you the Cablevision phone number closest to you. I spoke to Ryan, who told me that they had received 100,000 calls today protesting Cablevision’s dropping of the Food Network and HGTV. Wowza!

The whole thing stinks. It’s a part of the larger puzzle that networks, cable providers, the folks who produce content, advertisers and so many others are trying to solve that gives everyone a piece of the pie.

Unfortunately, as we cooks know, pies can only be cut into so many pieces, before they crumble and splinter and no one gets a good bite.


DebCarol said...

My husband say Scripps has a legitimate case here ~ content has value and needs to be compensated. Nobody wants higher prices but that is the way of entertainment today - Food Network and HGTV have become mega-moneymakers for advertisers - so follow the money trail. I say - thank goodness we are Comcast subscribers because there is a limit to what I will pay to watch. On the other hand, these two networks have become so slick and so far away from their origins that eventually even the most loyal fan will no longer recognize them.

SayGrace said...

And then there's Hulu... it's free and much more commercial-limited. A quick check indicates that most of the top-rated FN shows are there. I say bypass the whole nonsense and cozy on up to your laptop... or, do like my son does and hook it your laptop to the big screen and run everything you want on your schedule without paying a cent for cable. It's legal. It's legit. And it's going to make frustrated cable customers sing little happy songs as they cancel all but basic services and go off into the sunset. Makes you wonder what all this is going to look like as we ring in the next decade!

Cynthia said...

Wow, that's a blow. I actually went to check my tv just now to see that those channels are still in my local cable line-up.

DebCarol said...

Oh my . . . I must have had the New Year's blues ~ I sounded negetive in that last post. In fact there are a large number of shows on both FN and HGTV that I really enjoy and watch regularly!! (of course Ina being among them).

Sue said...

Hi DC,
I really agree that content should be king and you're right that nothing is getting any cheaper. Free television will probably disappear eventually as everyone's monetary needs get sorted out.

You're not being negative saying that the Food Network and HGTV have a lot of crap on them. The first episode of the heavily touted The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie was sooo bad. It should be called the OVERDONE ROOM. It was these overprivileged, overbeautiful people getting a completely overdone, over-elaborate outdoor courtyard space that was "inspired" by Jamie's trip to Bali. It had an oversized water feature that covered most of the space. You had to walk THROUGH it to get from side to side. Really dumb, and so overindulgent that it was nauseating. (I admit that it really is true that there are few things about which I don't have a strong opinion!)

SayGrace, Hiya!
Hulu is a great idea, but I just checked and the Food Network shows that they have seem to be only in clip form. So if you want to see a particular recipe, that's fine, but not for unfettered viewing. Darn!

I love the idea of hooking up the computer to the tv. Some people are so smart...

Happy New Year!!! Thank goodness, Cablevision doesn't reach to your beautiful island.

We're all entitled to a little rant now and then (or constantly, as in my case).

Adam said...

Yeah I heard about this with Time Warner also. Gotta love politics and $$... way to start a fight on the new year :(

At least there's the internet if everything doesn't pan out. Gotta stay positive right?

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I remember years ago Cablevision didn't carry FN. I remember envying people who had it (this is back when it was actually worth watching). It wasn't until I got married and got Comcast in our new apartment that I finally saw FN. I have FIOS now. Of course the Food Network isn't really worth watching these days anyway. I've never had any use for HGTV. To me it's just people with more money than I have acquiring nicer places than I live in either through buying it or really nice home renovations that I could never afford.

Sue said...

Hey Adam,
I'm getting more disgusted with each day. IF this is finally resolved, it's the Food Network fans that will be screwed anyway with a higher cable bill.

And don't worry, programming on the internet can't stay free to the consumer forever. We'll end up paying for that as well. But if we have less to watch, maybe we'll exercise more...just looking for the silver lining too.

Hey Rach,
I certainly complain about the Food Network as much as anyone, but I still want the option to be able to watch it if I want.

I actually find a lot less to complain about with HGTV...maybe because I'm so far from an expert that I love to watch people who are.

Sorry to complain about this again, but the show that epitomizes the over-rich, over-indulged is the truly awful Outdoor Room or Space or whatever with Jamie Durie.

You HAVE to watch it, just to see how incredibly wrong it is for the times we live in. EVERY square inch is designed to the hilt. It's supposed to be tranquil or spiritual or goodness knows what else. It's so gaudy, extravagant and pompous, just like its host, that it's completely awful.