Thursday, December 22, 2011

Weasel of the Week: James Dolan

James Dolan, owner of Cablevision in New York City, is perhaps the most despised man in the 5 boroughs. For one thing, Dolan, who also owns Madison Square Garden and its two winter tenants, the New York Rangers & Knicks, along with the accompanying MSG cable network, just loves to play a dangerous game of chicken with cable operators & subscribers.

Between now and January 1, Time Warner Cable subscribers in all of New York will see ads, both on television and in print, from both sides of the latest dispute between Time Warner and Dolan, who is threatening to pull MSG & MSG-Plus (formerly Fox Sports Net-New York) if the cable operator doesn't agree to a 53% increase in carriage fees, which, naturally, would translate into higher bills for subscribers. Time Warner has already pulled another Dolan-owned channel, Fuse, a music channel, due to low ratings & interest, and claims that decision is unrelated to the dispute over MSG Networks.

Dolan, who moonlights as a garage rocker on selected weekends, doesn't care about the subscribers. He wants to soak the cable and/or satellite companies for as much as possible, but jacking up rates by more than 50% is just flat wrong. That smacks of corporate greed, and we, the consumers, get hosed. The clock is ticking. If Time Warner doesn't meet Dolan's demands come January 1, the MSG channels are gone. To take it a step further, down the line, AMC (American Movie Classics), could be next to go simply because---wait for it---it, too, is owned by Dolan. There has to be a compromise somewhere. Dolan is trying to recoup losses from the NBA lockout, which saw a Knicks pre-season game, scheduled for the Times Union Center, cancelled back in October. He's going about it the wrong way, and there's no other recourse on Christmas week than to give him a 2nd set of weasel ears. This jabroni makes the Grinch look like a saint!


magicdog said...

If AMC dissappears from TV, I wouldn't miss it. It's a shadow if its former self and I haven't seen much programming on it I'd want to watch anyway.

Admittedly I'm more likely to watch TCM or rent a DVD.

As for the MSG debacle I can't say. How much is attributed to "corporate greed" versus actual operating costs is debatable and I'd need more info as far as that's concerned. It all comes down to money - whether or not cable operators will call Dolan's bluff and whether or not customers are willing to fork over the cash to see their favorite teams. Considering the recent fan backlash against sports stars, it's possible people might decide to tell cable sports networks where to go.

I will say cable hasn't been that much of a bargain in recent years, but I blame that on their own corporate overlords.

hobbyfan said...

It's strictly here in New York, not a national issue, magicdog.

I outlined one of the reasons why Dolan's taking this fool's stand. Another would be to recoup expenses from the renovation of Madison Square Garden itself. However, Dolan's going about it the wrong way, and I think at the end he's going to be the one begging.