Monday, November 24, 2008

Broadcast Stations vs. Glasgow's Economy

Cross Posted from The Red, Blue & Green Blog

When the EPB meets this week they will be considering the latest offers from the television broadcasters relative to what they are going to charge the people of Glasgow for the privilege of viewing their programming via the EPB cable system. You will recall that this is the broadcaster's little "agreement among friends" to extract massive payments for programming that everyone is accustomed to receiving for free. Curiously, they all decided to make these demands this year.

The EPB Board will be considering some painful choices. We know our customers are already rocked by financial hardship. The economy is in trouble. The cost of electric power is spiraling. In short, everyone should realize that this is not the time to demand more money from folks who are already hurting. But, that is exactly what the broadcast television stations are doing.

A couple of things are certain. Some of the broadcast stations you have been getting for years will disappear on January 1, 2009. However, all is not lost as we may be able to add a couple of stations back to our lineup that have been gone for a long time. Finally, it is also certain that the very best deal we can negotiate will still result in an increase in the rate for our basic tier of programming. Right now it looks like the increase will be in the neighborhood of $1.75 per month for the basic broadcast tier, but that final decision will be up the EPB Board when it meets.

I think everyone should know that our friends at WBKO in Bowling Green are being the most hard- nosed about demanding money (if we agree to what they are demanding they will be taking $50,000 per year out of Glasgow's economy) and refusing to negotiate more reasonable terms. Each of the other broadcasters started off asking a certain amount and then were willing to negotiate with us for lower amounts. This has not been the case with WBKO and as time winds down, it does not seem like they are going to change.

This is another example of the problems faced by Glasgow's local economy. There are simply too many businesses (like WBKO) that are determined to export money from Glasgow's economy while providing precious little for us in return. These are the problems that Glasgow's new movement, Sustainable Glasgow is being created to address. We simply have to learn how to provide more goods and services for ourselves such that we can keep our money in local circulation and enjoy the "multiplier" effects of sustaining local businesses. In the future, every time I look at WBKO's programming I will be thinking about the $50,000 per year they are taking from us and how that money might have helped a local business person grow his business in Glasgow. I hope you will too.

Of course, WBKO feels that the information and entertainment products they produce are well worth that money. But an event this weekend at The Plaza Theater reconfirmed my belief that we can inform, and certainly can entertain ourselves as well. If you were one of the roughly one thousand folks who attended the bluegrass music event at The Plaza Theater this weekend, you know what I am talking about. Local government officials made a fantastic decision to purchase and renovate this facility. Local employees and volunteers at The Plaza Theater assembled the talent and produced the show. They also sold tickets, ushered folks, sold concessions, and ran the lights and sound systems. To a large extent, the talent was local as well, and that closes the circle on my theory. We have a place, we have the management folks and talented volunteers, and we have local talented musicians. We also have wonderfully talented local thespians - The Far Off Broadway Players who are working hard to entertain us locally as well.

So, my point is this. Distant companies who are enriching themselves by siphoning off Glasgow's wealth better pay attention to the changing tide. Sustainable Glasgow intends to work diligently to identify places where our treasure is leaking out of the community to vendors who might be relying too heavily on our slumber. Together, we can awaken Glasgow's determination to protect itself and provide for our own needs.

1 comment:

bill travis said...

For WBKO this is just business - but for the community here it borders on blackmail.
I, for one, would be in favor of calling their bluff and letting them withdraw their programming from the Glasgow market. I would hope that SCRTC would join this approach in community solidarity and refusal to succumb to coercion.We can then have a public discussion about the reasons that WBKO is no longer offered on cable here. They will be losing a large market in Glasgow and Barren County and I would imagine that local advertisers would no longer purchase air time from WBKO. Maybe even some enterprising local entrepreneur would decide to take advantage of that vacuum and start a local station....who knows?
As much as is possible, we need to let the community here know what is going on in this situation.