well, that doesn't get around the paying for a box issue
I understand that the larger issue is that Comcast is cajoling people to rent boxes and pay for higher tiers of service.
One way this really affects people is if they already rented one box, but just plugged the cable into any additional tvs around the house. Those additional tvs are getting fewer and fewer programming selections.
But between business practices and tech limits, there really isn't much we can do.
It's largely a technological decision, potentially a targeted maneuver to get people to pay more to get the increasingly popular MSNBC, and politics (both macro and micro) were probably the least likely factor in the decision.
It's strictly a technological decision. It's happening all over the country. It's been talked to death. And Comcast - at least as far as large telecom companies go - is not a right wing organization.
check out their spending at open secrets; it's basically even
What is really happening here is largely related to the addition of HD programming. Each old analog station (the kind you can see with out a converter box) take up a large chuck of cable bandwidth. With most cable systems being maxed out, it becomes neseccary to juggle somethings when it comes time to add new features--like HD programming.
At up to six times the resolution of standard def channels, HD programming also takes up a big chuck of bandwidth per channel. But at least your getting more.
Where the cable company can save some bandwith is by transmitting the old analog channels as standard def digital-cable (not HD-type digital) across their cable to your house. Digital cable channels take up about 1/6 the room of analog cable transmissions. So by moving one channel from analog to digital (remember cable transmission, not HD--that's a whole other ball o wax) the cable company now has room to add an HD channel, or maybe 5 other regular (digital cable) channels. Oh, and as I just remembered, most of these channels already have a transmission in digital anyway (for channel alignment and quality reasons), so they're really just turning off the old analog channel, opening up the entire chuck of bandwidth for alternate use...
On many systems around the country, MSNBC has drawn one of the short straws. It's not the only one. The CSPANs have been getting moved as have some other odds and ends (odds and ends? is that the psychologist/proctologist channel?). Some systems still had HBO in analog. Some people were satisfied to just get the one HBO channel without a box, even though they'd get 10 different HBO sub channels with a box. Often, that HBO has gone away.
I think if you looks at real world factors, the MSNBC choice is understandable (although not desireable). Usually one of three major full time news channels on the system, and usually not the first place people turn for news. While some MSNBC shows are doing very well, I don't see any conspiricy that between CNN, FOX and MSNBC, MSNBC gets the boot.
Fair? In a perfect world--no. And yes, you will need to choose to rent a box abd subscribe to a digital package if you still want to watch these channels.
Soon, there will be little broadcasting left of the old analog-type. Probably just your local stations (I believe the FCC has mandated that cable co's keep sending those stations out on their system in an analog format, even after the stations themselves switch to over-the-air digital in Feb 2009) and a few barker/info channels.
While I certainly understand our dislike and distrust of Fox News, what if they had taken up on the Air America offer? Wouldn't we have then been compelled to live up to that deal?
How is it much different to have FOX and the CBC cohosting or collaborating on a debate?
While we certainly cannot trust FOX to independantly run a debate in a 'fair and balanced' way (not that they can't--we just can't trust that they will), perhaps more collaboration will allow groups like the CBC to exert pressure on their cohosts to achieve the fairness and balance to which they 'aspire.'
(Not that the CBC doesn't have it's own issues. FOX is still a big player, and I doubt we can cull them from the circuit completely.)