Networks serving the African-American and Hispanic communities are available over the air in a limited portion of Columbus OH, and a pair of minority advocacies are “outraged” that they aren’t being given a place on the local Time Warner Cable system.
The exposure of the networks – Bounce TV and Azteca America – is limited because they are resident on a low power facility – W23BZ-D, owned by Guardian Enterprise Group Inc. Both are available on split streams, with Bounce occupying 23.1 and Azteca occupying 23.2.
The organizations expressing their displeasure with TWC are the Columbus NAACP and the Minority Media Community Collaborative.
They say that minorities make up 40% of the Columbus population, including 28% African American and 5% Hispanic. They also say minorities pay roughly $72M in annual cable fees, only to be shut out from programming aimed their way.
They note that TWC has about a 60% share of the local cable market and add that it will soon increase to about 90% following its acquisition of Insight Communications. They note that this constitutes a virtual monopoly over the MVPD business in the DMA.
Reverend Joel King said, “Time Warner Cable has hundreds of cable channels available and yet has refused to sign an agreement to carry local minority broadcasters. And to add insult to injury Time Warner Cable has snubbed our repeated requests for a meeting to discuss these minority community concerns.”
Noel Williams, President of the Columbus NAACP states, “Time Warner Cable says that they believe in the power of community and value diversity in hiring, but with no space allocated to local minority channels, they do not apply these beliefs to their programming.”
RBR-TVBR observation: This is definitely a chance for an MVPD to demonstrate its commitment to serving its community. That’s because W23BZ, as a low power outlet, has no must-carry rights to enforce. All it can do is provide compelling content for the citizens of its DMA and hope that the local MVPDs will also serve those needs by passing the content along.
Here we have a small channel doing an amazing thing – contributing content to not one but two local minority communities.
You’d think TWC would jump at the chance to pass W23BZ, Bounce and Azteca America along to viewers in Columbus, all while proudly informing the local citizens that it is voluntarily going the extra mile to promote localism and diversity in there.
We guess localism, diversity and competition are concepts that only broadcasters worry about.