A reader writes:
I’ve been in the cable television business for over 33 years. I remember when the new Fox News channel first approached the company I worked for at the time. To obtain carriage, they offered us $10.00 per customer we served to launch them on our "basic" level of service. The money wasn’t really free, because their monthly fees kicked in at 15 or 20 cents a month in the first year. My company was unimpressed with the offer, but many other cable companies took the bait.
Once on the cable system, Fox then ramped up its fees as soon as the original contract expired, and also tied FNC carriage to other Fox satellite and broadcast channels (and raised the retransmission fees for those too.) They bundle all these channels together, raise the rates, and hold a gun to the head of cable companies if you don’t renew. "Pay us for all the channels or we will force you to take them all off." One of these days someone is going to call their bluff. But not yet.
One small issue with your reader's statement: "I cannot stop paying Fox News no matter how much I hate it. I'm captive." Actually, you can. You can cancel cable.
I did about six months ago, and it's been a joy to fill time I would have otherwise spent watching TV by reading, hanging out with friends, watching movies, or watching TV – just online instead of on TV. Daily Show/Colbert Report, Louie, 30 Rock … it's all available online, for free.
Another is on board:
My response is that I don't pay for Fox News and I can't imagine how the reader that said this is unable to stop paying for Fox News or any other channel. I don't have a television, therefore I don't have cable, don't pay for cable, and don't pay for Fox, or MSNBC, or any other cable channel. I do watch television shows through Hulu and I have a Netflix subscription and get my fix of current events, politics, and analysis through a subscription to The Economist, the BBC online, the Dish, The Atlantic, some broadcast radio, and various other sources.
When I visit relatives that tend to have a cable news channel on all the time, I am reassured that I am not missing out on any news of substance (although they seem to be missing out on much that is happening in the world).
My one loss with this arrangement is that I don't get to watch ESPN. I can enjoy baseball on the radio, but basketball on television is a great way to spend a winter evening. Eventually, I would suppose that ESPN would wise up to the fact that they are sitting one of the most valuable assets in the cable package and look for ways to offer their product to streaming viewers on a stand-alone subscription basis.