Sunday, March 2, 2014

2016 Season about To Begin with Blackout Intact; Will Comcast Takeover of Time-Warner End Their Disregard for Giants, A’s Fans in Hawaii?

What will make the knuckleheads running these companies do the right thing?

JANUARY 26, 2016 UPDATE with this news:
Boiled down to a peanut shell, the great majority of San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s fans in Hawaii can’t watch those teams’ games on TV or the Internet (, etc.) because broadcast rights holder Comcast and Hawaii's dominant cable system, Time-Warner, have refused to cut a deal, and MLB stands to the side without lifting a finger for Hawaii fans.

The blackout has been in place for SEVEN seasons and seems unbroken on the eve of MLB’s 2016 season. The only cracks in the blackout wall are the 15 games Honolulu station KITV brings in each year and the deal Comast made with satellite providers, which probably account for 10 percent of the Hawaii market if they’re lucky. 

Honolulu Star-Advertiser sports columnist Ferd Lewis wrote about the blackout  July 3, 2012, and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler called out the knuckleheads (his word) behind the blackout in 2010.

If Comcast’s takeover of Time-Warner goes through despite the monopoly critics fear it would create, the impasse over cable-casting Bay Area teams’ games in Hawaii presumably would end. How could it not end? The companies would be on the same side of the table, not at odds across it.

But that conclusion probably is too logical. This seven-season blackout has been without a scrap of goodwill toward Hawaii’s baseball fans from Major League Baseball, Comcast, Time-Warner and the teams themselves.

If there’s a will to keep screwing Hawaii’s fans, this cabal will find a way.

Here's the Ferd Lewis column that explains why fans in Hawaii of every MLB team are affected by this blackout:

Greed traps Hawaii’s Giants fans in sad squeeze play

By Ferd Lewis
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 02, 2014
It hasn't been easy to be a San Francisco Giants fan in Hawaii these past few seasons, even with two World Series banners.

But this year it is getting more frustrating for the enduring faithful.

The 2014 season will mark the sixth year that Major League Baseball's absurd blackout policy restricts the number of games that fans can watch on TV or via the Internet. It is a greedy dodge that has affected Giants games more than others here, where San Francisco has historically had a strong following.

Now, not only will the blackout continue, it comes as the Giants' division rivals, the Padres and Dodgers, have networks debuting here.

Last week, Oceanic Time Warner Cable inaugurated SportsNetLA, the all-Dodgers-all-the-time network, on channels 217 and 319. The Padres' Fox Sports San Diego debuts March 30 on channel 227, Oceanic said.

If that isn't enough to make Giants fans, well, Dodger Blue in the face, then consider that those over-the-top salaries the Dodgers are paying (Clayton
Kershaw's seven-year, $215 million, for instance), are enabled by the $8.35 billion, 25-year rights fees deal Los Angeles has with Time Warner.

That's a four-fold increase over last year and it is being subsidized, in part, by guess who?

KITV's MeTVHawaii (Oceanic channel 126 and over-the-air 4.2), has stepped up to offer a 15-game selection of Giants games between March 15 and Sept. 12, but it is only part of the games that MLB's gluttony takes away.

MLB's scam goes like this: Teams claim territories in which to peddle their product. The Giants, A's, Dodgers, Angels, Mariners and Padres all grabbed our state even though it isn't like local residents can drive to any of their games. What this has allowed the teams and their rights holders to do is use blackouts to leverage cable carriers to ante up for their packages. Some, like the Mariners, have occasionally relented.

But most, notably the Giants and rights holder Comcast, won't budge, even in the case of games on MLB Extra Innings and The height of ridiculousness is that even when the Giants are playing on the East Coast, their games can be blacked out here.

"It makes me really angry ... really, really angry since Time Warner and Comcast have been unable to reach a deal to broadcast the Giants games for five years," fan Phil Kinnicutt wrote in an email. "According to Oceanic, Comcast was asking too much and that it was a Time Warner 'headquarters' decision. This corporate impasse has been going on for five years now while the interests of the fans are ignored and MLB refuses to step in."

The hope is that if Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner goes through, it will eventually provide the kind of change that common sense, the FCC and some political pressures have so far been unable to force.

Meanwhile, don't expect the arrival of Dodgers and Padres networks to soothe too many aggrieved Giants fans.

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