Friday, October 26, 2007

Still want BTN

I never met Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press, but I think I have found an ally.

Rosenberg recently wrote about the ongoing Big Ten Network (BTN) and Comcast on carrying it. BTN wants to be placed on the same basic cable tier as ESPN, while Comcast wants to stash it on a sports tier, where customers must pay extra. "We don't want to burden our customers with something they don't want," Comcast Midwest region communications director Patrick Paterno told Rosenberg.

This is the same crap that Minnesotans are hearing from the Comcast folks: they control both cable franchises in Minneapolis and St. Paul. They even put a channel on, which only shows a stupid message that the BTN will be there, if only they do what Big Brother Cable wants.

"This is a big money hungry company that plays to win," writes Rosenberg.


Last month I wrote that we as fans always are caught in the middle, getting squeezed (or something else, but I will keep this clean) by feuding sides. No one is willing to give, and those who want to watch the Gophers (well, maybe not football this fall) are left in the dark unless they buy a satellite dish or head to some sports bar.

Comcast isn't local, whether here in Minnesota or Michigan, or anywhere else in the Midwest. They are East Coast folk, Wall Street types -- they wouldn't know a Gopher, Wolverine or a Spartan from a hole in a wall. Or in their heads.

They only know one thing, as backup singers for the O'Jays -- For The Love of Money.

Comcast won't back down. They are propagandists that would make a former Soviet Union government official proud and envious.

They are as much looking out for me as a runaway train at night. If they did, Comcast wouldn't burden me with programming I don't want. Such as a zillion shopping channels, fifty MTV's and endless informerical garbage that currently crowds our local cable lineup.

But as Big Brother Cable claims, they are looking out for me, deciding for me what I want or don't want. The only way Comcast will change, if ever, is by flooding their phone lines, demanding that BTN be added. I do, every chance I get, as well as in person when I pay my monthly cable bill, which has increased 800 percent over my 20-plus years as a cable customer. It has gone up under previous regimes as Rogers, Paragon and Time Warner, before Comcast assumed their present money gouging position a couple of years ago.

For full disclosure, I have not added a single movie channel, or buy pay-per-view movies and such. In fact, several channels I loved watching, such as BET Jazz, was dropped last year in favor of more MTV channels. Oh, yeah -- my bill also went up.

Hear me Comcast -- I want BTN. Like Helen Reddy, hear us Big Ten fans roar.

You can read my "Cable Wars" column on Rosenberg's take is on the Free Press' web site.

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