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Open Mike

Cable: Not the Electric Co.

The recent rhetoric surrounding Sinclair Broadcasting's retransmission negotiations with Mediacom (“Happy Hostilities,” Nov. 13) reminded me of the misleading nature of the cable industry's “big lie” that retransmission payments must automatically be passed on to the consumer.

Cable companies are not utilities that operate in a “cost-plus” pricing model. They should not assume that their costs are passed on to the consumer. In a competitive landscape, they must price their services to attract customers.

Satellite and telephone companies are steadily building their market share while at the same time paying stations an appropriate retransmission fee. These fees are part of their cost structure.

Why should cable operators be granted a competitive advantage over other, newer delivery systems?

Since its inception, the cable industry has taken without payment the copyrighted material produced by television and sold this programming to their customers.

There is a term for this economic model: piracy.

The cable industry's behavior has been indistinguishable at its core from the video pirates that steal Hollywood movies and sell their wares in street markets.

I must agree with my friend David Smith that cable retransmission fees for television signals are important to our industry's future.

More important, they are fair. Cable's “if we pay, the consumer pays” is only applicable in the monopoly environment cable operators still believe they enjoy.

Vincent J. Young


Young Broadcasting Inc.

Hawaiian Eye?

I was at the Honolulu airport when the quake hit. I pulled out my battery-powered TV to find out what happened, but the only station on-air was KFVE. In the hours following the quake, KFVE programmed infomercials, a real estate show, religious programs, and then a football game.

There was never any mention of the quake, not even a crawl. Despite what was stated in your article, (“Stations Learn From Hawaii Quake, Oct. 23) none of the other stations were on-air.

Larry Fuss, President

Contemporary Communications LLC

Las Vegas