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Old July 21st, 2005, 07:59 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Lincoln, NH
Posts: 10
uniquely frustrating situation

I have a production company in a resort town. There's another established outfit in town who runs the local channels. I've talked with both the resort & the cable provider & they relinquish all control to this company. The problem is that the town is used to seeing local commercials on these channels, so when I try to drum up business doing commercials locally, I am asked whether I can get on the channels that the competion controls. So in effect, I'd have to pay the competion for air time...if they allow me. To make things worse, I've also been doing some video home tours, which *ironically* this company just started doing as well & now they are putting them on these channels. Unfair advantage? Absolutely. Is this even legal? I can tell you that it is very frustrating. Are there any rules that govern cable public access (& making money on such channels)? Any good books or references on the subject? I am familiar with telephony laws & this kinda thing would not fly there. The town (& I) would certainly benefit from the competition.
Edward Croteau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 21st, 2005, 02:49 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Issaquah, WA
Posts: 62
Hi Edward,

Well that's a STINKY situation. In reading about your plight these things came to mind...

Usually, a cable system is liscenced to serve a particular area by (generally) the city or town. Part of that licencing agreement is to provide a "public access" channel and/or facilities, generally free or very low cost for producing or placing programming. If you can get hold of that document, you can learn the intent and/or specific rules about how the channel is used.

I'm surprised to hear of advertising on this type of channel, I don't believe I've seen that before. However, I've see other specialized channels on cable systems that offer the kind of advertising and specialized (home tour) programming you describe.

If its truly a public access channel which permits advertising, it should cost you no more than the established outfit to place ads, as it is a publicly mandated resource. If it costs you more, your bone to pick is with the town government since they hold the cable liscence irregardless of who actually runs it.

If it is a specialized type of channel, ask the company programming it for a rate card for commercial and/or program insertions. There are also local commercial windows on cable services like CNN and TNT. Think about playing dumb and asking about the current commercials running ... what does that cost? If it seems outragous, find other cable systems in your region and see what they charge. If it still seems outrageous, its time to write a letter to the town government about how their cable licence is being abused. If there's no relief there, maybe a newspaper reporter can help.

Lastly think about your product. Do you offer a higher quality of program? Are the local realtors (who I'm sure foot the bill for the home tours) happy with how they are represented? Are they willing to pay more for a higher quality product? Do they want a creative product, or one produced by a "utility?" Can you offer both video and web products promoting real estate? How else can you differenciate your services from your competition?

Random thoughts, but hopefully a nugget or two to help.

Matt Ockenfels

a pixel a day keeps boredom at bay
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