Why is New York City comptroller John Liu trivializing government by inserting it into a petty dispute between entertainment giants?
Yesterday, Liu put out a statement showing that he’s ready to fight for New Yorkers who face a grave crisis: “nearly 2 million customers … without access to their beloved Knicks and Rangers.”
Why’s that? The MSG sports channels, owned by Madison Square Garden, and Time Warner Cable are fighting over costs.
Time Warner doesn’t want to pay what MSG wants, and so has blacked them out, causing fans to miss some Knicks and Rangers games. To mollify customers during the dispute, Time Warner is offering subscribers a package of other, normally “premium,” sports offerings.
Liu is on the case, though, saying that he has asked the city’s IT and telecommunications department to “step up and hold [Time Warner] accountable and make sure it reimburses subscribers for the loss of those channels. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Yet there’s no legitimate city government role here. This disagreement is a business fight, and not an important one. Time Warner thinks that bespoke sports channels are growing too expensive. MSG wants a 53 percent increase for its programming, Time Warner says.
The cable giant figures that as cable costs rise overall, people who don’t want these niche channels will stop subscribing, and not enough new sports fans will make up for the loss.
MSG, unsurprisingly, thinks the opposite: that its special programming is worth it.
Who’s right? The real question is … who cares? That’s what shareholders pay entertainment moguls to determine. In the meanwhile, we can watch cats on the internet for free.
Liu should find something better to do.