Cable/Satellite vs. Broadcast TV. Again.

Almost every month, a cable or satellite company gives its customers warning that they might lose access to one or more local channels.

These things usually get settled before the deadline. Except when they don’t.

This is one where I get both sides of the issue. No one wants to pay a higher cable bill. They’re crazy high already. And there’s a reason it’s called “free” over-the-air TV, right?

But from the TV stations’ standpoint, the cable company makes a lot of money from retransmitting TV stations. If you’re going to make money from my product, you’re going to share some of that money with me.

If you have cable or satellite, you pay $7.72 a month (nationwide average) for ESPN, whether you watch it or not. That’s just for ESPN. ESPN2, ESPNews, all of the other networks are separate and you pay for them, too. You pay $1 a month for Fox News, whether you watch it or not. And Fox News fans, you’re paying for CNN, whether you ever watch it or not.

It’s pretty hard to find a household that doesn’t watch ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox, at least once in a while. The local affiliates of those networks usually get 50 cents or a dollar a month. It’s a pretty good deal, when you consider they get the most viewers, have (usually) fewer commercials than most cable networks, bring local news and weather and face governmental regulations and fines.

I’d be all for a la carte cable/satellite, where you just pay for the channels you watch. A limited proposal for that actually came up in Congress this year. It was limited because you could only choose to opt out of your local TV channels.

So you could opt out of that 50 cents for your local TV station, but you could NOT opt out of the $7.72 for ESPN? How, exactly is THAT fair?

It would sure be great to figure out a fair way to let us pay less for cable/satellite.