TelevisionWeek is teaming up with TV industry veteran Marianne Paskowski. The blog will give Marianne a forum to convey her deep knowledge of the industry and pass along some of the juicy morsels she's hearing on the grapevine. Marianne has covered the TV industry from the inside out and top to bottom, and TVWeek's readers are bound to benefit from her sharp eyes, ears and wit. TVWeek.com invites readers to jump online, chime in and pick Marianne's brain on the latest industry news.


Marianne Paskowski

Snore of a Debate Gets High Ratings

October 8, 2008 12:28 PM

While hardly electrifying, last night’s second presidential debate attracted a ton of viewers, scoring a 42.1 rating, according to Nielsen, and trailing not far behind last week’s one-and-only debate between the veep candidates.

NBC's Tom Brokaw

How could it not get great ratings, given that the Dow dropped another 500 points yesterday, delivering investors another punch in their already sore guts.

The debate got better ratings than it deserved. NBC’s Tom Brokaw was not at his best, trying to cover too much ground at a time when the nation is scared senseless about the economy and the state of their 401Ks and IRAs.

I expected to hear far more detail from Barack Obama and John McCain about how they would bail out us, the folks actually footing the bill for this fiscal recovery plan. Instead, Brokaw basically stuck to the script, giving the economic collapse cursory coverage, moving quickly on to health care and foreign affairs.

I thought I was watching a rerun, with both candidates echoing many of the points that they had earlier made on the stump. Clearly it’s time for some new thinking here.

I didn’t hear any, and the scary thing is there probably isn’t any new thinking.

Am I being too cynical?

Did You Watch Veep Debate? You Betcha

October 3, 2008 9:56 AM

Viewers across the nation were glued to the first and only vice presidential debate between Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Biden Palin Vice-Presidential Debate

If people were watching for a Palin train wreck, they didn’t get it. She didn’t derail; she came off as strong and spunky with her homespun “you betcha” and “darn right” manner of speaking.

Clearly the format worked for Palin, who bore no resemblance to the candidate recently interviewed by CBS’ Katie Couric.

So what did we learn last night? I walked away with one and only one thing: Palin does well when scripted, as she clearly was last night, but when it comes to thinking on her high-heeled feet in an interview, she trips up.

Meanwhile, I was surprised this morning when I took the Cape Cod Times’ online poll, which showed 67% of the respondents said Palin won the debate.

Was there a winner here? I say no.

How Cable Can Boost Satisfaction Scores

September 30, 2008 10:47 AM

Michigan-based CFI Group released its Telecom-Cable Industry Satisfaction survey and, to nobody’s surprise, cable’s scores were “abysmal,” posting only a 60% customer satisfaction rate.

That’s old news. Cable never does well in these surveys, with respondents griping mostly about lousy customer service.

But there’s a new wrinkle this go-round: Longtime cable subscribers are angry that newer customers, thanks largely to competition from satellite and the phone companies, are being rewarded with lower rates.

Cable could fix this in a minute, if the industry really cared. .Cable companies lured subscribers with an attractive $99-per-month bundled package of phone, video and cable modem services. But those terms were only for the first year or two, and early adopters soon found their rates get higher after the initial offer.

In this economy, price is a problem. I have friends who dropped cable’s triple-play service when they saw their bills soar and ran straight into the arms of Verizon.

Cable boasts about customer loyalty and retention programs. But those plans are often a day late and a dollar short when a customer calls ready to bail.

Does anyone have a story about a good cable customer retention plan?

I’m afraid I don’t have even one.

Obama Shames McCain Into Ole Miss Debate

September 26, 2008 9:53 AM

Sen. Barack Obama

Sen. Barack Obama

At 11:30 a.m. EDT today, Sen. John McCain’s team announced that he would be attending the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., this evening.

Earlier McCain announced that he was suspending his campaign and would not attend the debate, saying that it was more important to him and the country for him to stay in Washington to hammer out a bailout plan for Wall Street.

Obama, to me, demonstrated his leadership by saying that he was attending and that a president has to have the skill to handle more than one problem at a time.

Tonight’s presidential debate, the first of three, was supposed to focus largely on geo-political issues. Given the new twists of the bailout plan, and how large it has become, I hope the focus of tonight’s discussion tackles the question of who the government is actually bailing out, Wall Street or Main Street.

Obama did the right thing by insisting that the show must go on. And in the process I think he took a lot of wind out of McCain’s sails. Do you?

AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ Makes Me Mad

September 24, 2008 9:35 AM

Okay. I know “Mad Men” won the Emmy for best dramatic series, but I absolutely hate the show.

AMC's 'Mad Men'

AMC's 'Mad Men'

True, I didn’t walk in those women’s shoes in the early sixties, the time period for this show. Frankly I was a kid, and I never witnessed how women at home, raising families were treated by their high powered, well-paid male spouses.

Pretty shabby, according to this show, including all of the women who worked at this fictional ad agency. But when I grew up, I saw the other side, “Bewitched.” I personally prefer that slice of life. Darren never cheated on Samantha. Remember?

I’ve only seen two episodes of “Mad Men,” and I’m still trying to get the drama’s appeal. So I took it upon myself to ask older women why they find it appointment TV.

They all say, and some can really relate, being married to ad agency executives, while they were raising families, that it’s all true.

However, I find this show extremely deprecating to today’s young women. Sure you can argue that’s the way it was, but it isn’t anymore. Bring back “Murphy Brown.” That I can relate to.

I would like to see more shows on TV about women who actually crashed through the glass ceiling, like Murphy Brown, and are on equal footing with their husbands (Although Murphy didn’t have one and raised a baby anyhow).

To me, “Mad Men” is one very sexist show and didn’t deserve the Emmy.

CNBC Tells Us Where Our Money Went

September 18, 2008 9:39 AM

Maria Bartiromo

CNBC's Maria Bartiromo

Count me among the hordes of viewers who are glued to cable net CNBC this week as we watch our 401K and IRA funds dissolve before our eyes.

With this week’s broad-based selloff in the stock market, the financial news net by contrast has seen its viewer base soar, getting its best ratings since September 2001.

CNBC reporters have done a great job of de-mystifying what went wrong with their well informed coverage of credit default swaps and naked shorts, two factors that led to this week’s collapse of the market.

CNBC’s Dylan Rattigan, in particular, has been asking some hard hitting questions and advising investors how they can protect themselves moving forward. Also CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo, who always starts her after the final bell show with the question, “Do you know where your money is?” is doing overtime, anchoring extra shows during prime time

CNBC has become the new safe haven. Heck, even Jon Stewart is watching. Are you?

Should ‘SNL’ Bring Back Tina Fey?

September 17, 2008 10:55 AM

Tina Fey

Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Tina Fey, who now has her own hit show in NBC’s “30 Rock,” returned to her roots last Saturday, outshining all other cast members with her spot-on portrayal of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

So much so that “SNL,” now in its 34th year on the air, had its largest season premiere ratings since 2001.

Clearly the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska—who ever heard of that place?—has captured the attention of the American public.

A day doesn’t go by here when I don’t get at least five e-mails about her, and her bespectacled face is everywhere. You would think she’s running for president instead of John McCain, and in a sense she is, being just a heartbeat away from the top job should the GOP win this election.

“SLN” executive producer Lorne Michaels has said he’s trying to find a way to bring back Fey, even though she’s busy with her “30 Rock” day job. He’s also said there are two other “SNL” cast members who could portray Palin.

I don’t think so—do you?

Anchors Away for MSNBC’s Olbermann and Matthews

September 10, 2008 8:06 AM

Over the weekend, NBC Universal, parent of cable news net MSNBC, decided to replace co-anchors Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews on Election Night with MSNBC host David Gregory.

Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman

Chris Matthews, left, and Keith Olberman.

I applaud that move. Watching Olbermann and Matthews co-anchoring the convention, and I confess I couldn’t stand to watch them and didn’t see much, was like witnessing a World Wrestling match.

Both have strong egos, and pairing them together was a huge gamble that failed, as the ratings proved. They both opine and get in the way of the news, which I thought was their job

However, they are really well-paid bloviators. They do that very well, but they are not news anchors.

Frankly, I’ve given up altogether on MSNBC. Before the election, I couldn’t stand to see Matthews ask questions and answer them before guests could respond. As for Olbermann, he’s just getting stale.

I used to like these guys a lot, but I’ve moved on to CNN, and now even drop by Fox News to see what the GOP is plotting.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Olbermann and Matthews after the election. For now, their followings have thinned. They lost me, and I’m a liberal. That’s not a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

So boys and girls, who will you turn to on Election Night? You already know where I’ll be, and it’s not MSNBC.

Cable News Nets Awash with GOP Veep Choice

August 29, 2008 12:49 PM

PalinToday is GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s 72nd birthday and he gave TV newsgathering organizations a present when he announced his dark-horse candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

The 44-year-old Palin is hardly a household word in political circles, having been governor of Alaska for just two years, after earlier serving as mayor of a suburb of Anchorage.

Palin, a card-carrying member of the NRA, is pro-life and took to the stage today with four of her five kids in tow. The fifth enlisted in the military and is shipping out to Iraq on Sept. 11.Wave-the-flag time here.

McCain’s maverick choice has reporters in a feeding frenzy, trying to learn more about her. From what we’re hearing, I sure wouldn’t throw her on stage with her opponent, Sen. Joe Biden, but I wouldn’t write her off, either.

While I think she will pick up few if any disenfranchised Hillary Clinton voters, because they’re liberal, Palin has her own strengths, despite her lack of experience.

She pounded through legislation for the creation of a $40 billion natural gas pipeline in the state as the country tries to find alternatives to imported crude oil. She’s also had some success in fighting the oil companies and battling statewide corruption.

Among Alaskans, she has an 80% approval rating. Does she have a chance?

Big Night for Hillary and CNN

August 27, 2008 11:13 AM

Hillary Clinton

Wearing a bright orange pantsuit, Sen. Hillary Clinton delivered a riveting unity speech in Denver last night. I viewed it on CNN, and the cable net did a fabulous job with its camera work.

Cameras flitted from the charged-up speaker to Bill Clinton, sitting tight-lipped in the VIP section, looking like he was on the verge of tears. Female delegates went wild when Hillary thanked her “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits.”

But the best was CNN’s deft camera play on Michelle Obama, who was warily watching Hillary on stage. Only once did Michelle crack a smile, and that was when Hillary said, “Wasn’t Michelle Obama terrific last night?”

No love lost there, I’d say. So tonight it’s Bill’s turn. Will he behave himself?

Bochco Blasts Broadcast Nets

August 21, 2008 9:28 AM

In an interview Monday with Forbes.com, Emmy Award-winning producer Steven Bochco explains why he’s taking his latest drama, “Raising the Bar,” to cable net TNT instead of to one of the broadcast networks.

Bocho said the broadcast networks have “devolved,” and that they are overrun with programming that he has no interest in producing, namely reality shows. He also accused the broadcast networks of micromanaging every single aspect of production.

Clearly, Bochco, who produced “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “NYPD Blue,” has had it with the broadcast networks.

Honestly, what was the last prime-time program you watched on a broadcast network?

So kudos to Bochco for saying what the broadcast networks need to hear.

Ed McMahon: New Poster Child for Subprime Mess

August 15, 2008 10:56 AM

Ed McMahon

Well, I guess you can say the 85-year-old Ed McMahon, longtime sidekick of Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” has become the official poster child of the subprime lending mess, after he defaulted on mortgage loans with the now-notorious Countrywide Financial Corp.

The story made national headlines when Donald Trump got wind of McMahon’s woes and bought the house in order to lease it back to the octogenarian, letting him remain in his house.

McMahon’s home had been on the market for nearly two years and once was valued at $7 million, but now has an asking price of $4.6 million, according to published reports.

Trump, who didn’t know McMahon, was a fan of Carson and his sidekick and stepped forward, asking, “How could this happen,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Cynics said the publicity-loving Trump did it to get back into the limelight. I say, so what?

Money talks and you-know-what walks. And shame on Countrywide, the lender at the very core of the real estate market meltdown with its questionable mortgage practices.

NBC Olympics on Steroids, and I’ve Had It

August 11, 2008 2:43 PM

Beijing Olympics

I can’t believe this: I just tuned in to watch my favorite show, CNBC’s “Fast Money,” hosted by Dylan Rattigan and it’s been preempted with some boxing Olympics event.

Have its parent companies GE and NBC Universal lost their minds? “Fast Money” is one of CNBC’s fastest-growing shows, and given the volatility of this market, I can’t believe they made such a bone-headed blunder here.

Gold hit a two-year low, Russia and Georgia are at war affecting the price of crude, the market is a mess, and I can’t listen to what the “Fast Money” crowd has to say about it all.

NBC has plenty of other cable networks to overkill with its mindless Olympics coverage. I’m so ticked I just called to complain, and you can, too, at 201-735-2622 and ask for an operator. I got a very tired one who answered, sounding weary from what I hope is a host of complaints.

Just goes to show you why GE’s stock is in the gutter: It knows nothing about business.

Should GE sell NBC Universal?

Absolutely, and I have no skin in this game—I don’t own a single media stock.

Chinese Sanitize & Stifle Olympics Coverage

August 6, 2008 9:36 AM

Tiananmen Square

With the Summer Olympics just two days away, don’t expect to see the real China as NBC broadcasts the controversial events on its various media outlets.

I’m not just talking about the street vendors who have been displaced, the painted walls covering buildings and slums that the Chinese government doesn’t want the outside world to see, or the removal of dog entrees from about 125 restaurants.

Nor am I just talking about how Chinese citizens cannot drive and how the government has shut down factories, both efforts to abate the Communist nation’s notorious air pollution.

I’m talking about how the Chinese government has shut down access to certain Internet sites that it has deemed inappropriate for journalists covering the event. Clearly the Chinese are not living up to certain promises they made that journalists would have unrestricted access during the games.

Bunk. The latest crackdown of media coverage is that reporters now have to make appointments to report and film in Tiananmen.

I hope the International Olympic Committee has learned something from this fiasco. But I doubt that, don’t you?

And I’m double disappointed that our two presidential candidates are spending millions on ad dollars to get in the face of American viewers.

Media Coverage: Boston’s Overkill

July 31, 2008 11:07 AM

If you live in the Boston DMA, you’ll be a very happy camper at 4 p.m. today. That’s when the revered Boston Red Sox will decide whether they will trade off their All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez.

Beantowners have been inundated the past 24 hours with every stupid detail of this potential deal and will breathe a collective sigh of relief when it’s over. If you relied on Boston media, you would have no idea that Congress did not pass an offshore drilling bill or that the war in Iraq is still raging.

In a Cape Cod Times online poll today, 73.6% said get rid of the bum. Ramirez, who earns $20 million, is one of the reasons it’s impossible to get a ticket to Fenway Park.

Or maybe, just maybe, they’re getting as bored as I am with this story. With TV and print news departments shrinking, couldn’t they make better use of the reporters they still employ?

I think so.

Liberal Media Bias and the Election

July 29, 2008 9:59 AM

I used to yawn when I heard people carp about how the media fawned over Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and ignored his Republican opponent, John McCain.

That was until today, when I read a New York Times editorial that took President George W. Bush to the woodshed for remaining silent about China’s human rights policies with the Olympics just two weeks away.

That’s fair—Bush has said absolutely nothing about the subject and he is attending the Opening Ceremonies.

But where is the dialogue in the media about Obama spending $5 million on advertising during the Olympics on NBC? The conversation has focused on his shift from regional swing-state spending to his national buy.

Big deal. I’d like to hear what people have to say about Obama’s tacit approval of China’s policies by spending ad dollars in the controversial Games hosted by China and airing on NBC.

Anyone else have a problem with this?

Sorry NBC, I’m Following Leno

July 25, 2008 9:51 AM

Now it’s official: Jay Leno’s last “Tonight Show” broadcast is May 29 and Conan O’Brien will inherit the throne.

It’s been widely reported that Leno will land his own show on ABC, and if that’s the case, count on me to be in the audience.

Frankly, I just can’t understand why NBC would let Leno go, given that his show consistently wins the time period. Personally, I think the switch is all about NBC trying to lure younger demos, hence O’Brien.

To me, O’Brien is an acquired taste who just doesn’t appeal to my palate at all. Leno is part of my evening ritual. He makes for a better night’s sleep than O’Brien, whom I find sophomoric.

So if Leno goes to ABC, will you be following him there, like me?

TV at the Gas Pump Fuels Purchases

July 22, 2008 10:55 AM

According to an Associated Press article today, 89% of the consumers who are exposed to some 20,000 TV screens at gas stations across the country say they are willing to buy the products being hawked.

PumpTop TV, Gas Station TV and FuelCast are three independent outfits that provide programming ranging from NBC and ABC content to sports scores, news and weather forecasts. Gas stations rent the screens and, in turn, hawk products ranging from car washes to candy bars.

Clearly I’m out of sync with the public here. I would rather see gas stations lower the price of gas than rent TV sets that carry heavy rotations of 15-second spots. Buying gas is already an expensive, unpleasant chore. Who needs to be captive to a bunch of commercials, when you can’t even change the channel or sound level?

And what if the jerk ahead of you gets mesmerized by some numb-nuts sports report? I can hear the horns blowing already as time spent at the station is actually lengthened.

So has anyone out there been to one of the gas stations with TVs?

Feel free to rant, or tell me that I’m a lone voice in this choir.

Rev. Jackson’s ‘Hot Mic’ Moment on Fox

July 15, 2008 10:42 AM

It’s been about a week since supposed Barack Obama supporter Jesse Jackson apologized on the Fox News Channel about earlier “crude” remarks he had made about the presidential contender.

I have to ask, with friends like this who needs enemies? Jackson, speaking with another guest before his segment appeared, did not realize his microphone was on and accused Obama of “talking down to black people.”

If that weren’t bad enough, right before showtime the mic picked up Jackson saying, “I want to cut his nuts off.”

A week later, Obama supporters are still fuming over Jackson’s comments and wondering if he is really helping or hurting Obama’s chances of winning.

Your two cents?

Spitzer’s Call Girl Coming to Cable?

July 10, 2008 11:24 AM

Here’s one for the books. E! News reports that former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s call girl might land on cable with her own TV show about dating.

Apparently call girl Ashley Dupre, according to published reports, is working on a project with Handprint Entertainment, the folks who work with Nicole Richie and Pamela Anderson.

So which cable network will stoop this low? I’m sure the show will get great ratings if it comes to pass. It’s like watching a car accident on the other side of the road.

But I can’t see this happening at all. Sure, the kid needs a job, but prostitution is a crime in New York, where she was busted, so what cable network would want the bad ink?

And what does she know about real dating? Most people don’t get paid to go on a date, at least in my circle of friends.

Lifetime’s ‘Army Wives’ More Than a TV Show

July 3, 2008 10:03 AM

Earlier this week several cast members from “Army Wives,” attended a red carpet event at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

They were there—joined by real army wives and military personnel—to screen the upcoming July 6 episode “The Hero Returns,” and to launch a postcard drive that will deliver moral support to military families.

For me, “Army Wives’ is appointment television, but it’s more than that: It’s public service at its best. And the timing couldn’t be better given the Independence Holiday weekend.

Regardless of how you feel about the war, let’s not forget the troops who are fighting to preserve our freedoms. I salute Lifetime for its important public service work here.

Liberty Media’s Malone Speaks on CNBC

July 1, 2008 12:04 PM

John Malone, Liberty Media’s 67-year-old CEO, made a rare appearance on CNBC to discuss the future of his hydra-headed empire.

Any reporter who covers this company is always baffled by the more than half a dozen tracking stocks that comprise this empire. Apparently investors are confused, too, as the stock continues to languish.

Malone said a “simple company is best,” and that the transition is already under way, but not complete, to create a new, less confusing model, providing the tax ramifications are positive.

And there’s the rub: Malone hates to pay taxes, hence the baffling structure of Liberty today.

Anyone have any ideas for Malone here?

If he has them, he kept them close to the vest today.

FiOS: More Bang for the Buck

June 27, 2008 10:18 AM

Just got off the phone with my friend Bobby, who dumped Cablevision’s triple play and signed up for Verizon’s FiOS bundle of services: digital video, phone and high-speed Internet access.

Price was her driving motivator. Bobby was sick and tired of watching her bill go up from the initial one-year offer of $99 per month to $136. FiOS let her lock in a $109 monthly rate for two years.

Bobby got more than she had hoped for: far more channels than Cablevision had offered, plus free premium channels from Verizon for three months.

When she called Cablevision to cancel, she stopped them dead in their tracks when the customer service reps were going to offer her incentives to stay the course.

Which raises the question: How come cable companies aren’t willing to wheel and deal until it’s too late?

Bobby had made her decision and turned a deaf ear to what was probably a too-little-too-late pitch from Cablevision.

Is Cable Really Recession-Proof?

June 25, 2008 11:49 AM

Prevailing wisdom gleaned from past recessions would suggest it is, with a few caveats. During recessions, cable subscribers always trim the sails a little. They drop pricey premium services, only to restore them when the good times roll again.

But this go-round, the economic headwinds are much stronger, with people feeling the double whammy of high gas prices and skyrocketing food costs.

The Associated Press today reports about two kids in Salt Lake City who took to the streets to protest higher gas prices that led their mother to opt out of cable.

And the headwinds are likely to get stronger. The next wave of adjustable rate mortgages will reset, while nearly half of the tax rebate checks have already been issued and spent or saved, likely driving the economy into a deeper hole.

Maybe it’s time for cable to introduce price discounts to keep its customer base. Satellite TV has been aggressive lately, offering unbelievable discounted rates for new subscribers.

Even I, the queen of inertia, am thinking about DirecTV’s offer—it looks tempting.

Anyone out there make the switch yet?

Oprah Builds OWN Team

June 20, 2008 10:52 AM

This week Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications announced that Robin Schwartz, a relative unknown quantity in cable programming circles, was named president of the Oprah Winfrey Network that debuts next year.

But what’s more odd, is that Oprah didn’t name a CEO first. Usually, the big suit is hired first, allowing him or her to handpick the dream team.

What the Schwartz announcement says to me is that Oprah will be very hands on with the editorial direction of OWN. Rumors have been abuzz for months that MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath was a contender for the top spot. I’ve also heard that former Turner exec Scott Sassa has his hat in the ring, too.

Another name in the swirl is Susan Lyne, who left Martha Steward Living Omnimedia last week.

But does it really matter who gets the gig? Given the Schwartz hire, it’s clear to all that Oprah will run the new cable net with an iron fist.

Rep. Eshoo Wants TV Advertisers to Turn It Down

June 17, 2008 4:08 PM

Finally, a possible solution for blaring TV spots that send you scrambling to the remote to turn down the volume before deafness strikes.

This week congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., said she would introduce a bill pushing for the Federal Communications Commission to create new rules to reduce commercial noise.

This sounds like small potatoes given the range of issues at the FCC’s doorstep, and realistically, I’m not so sure this is possible. The noisiest spots seem to appear on local cable pods, caused by some needed but seldom done tweaking of the ad interconnect.

But if it works, people would jump for joy. I can’t tell you how many times my friend David has asked me to write a blog on this topic because it really, really bugs him.

So David, this one’s for you. Belated happy birthday!

So Much for Fox News’ Mantra ‘We Report, You Decide’

June 13, 2008 11:04 AM

Reporters have long quibbled with Fox News Channel brass about its handle, “We Report, You Decide,” with the cable news suits always saying its coverage is not partisan.

Oh yeah? Well, I’ve decided it is partisan, and it’s pro Republican. The cable net has hired as contributors GOP mastermind Karl Rove and now Mike Huckabee, former Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Arkansas.

However, in recent weeks, the network has bent over backwards, having to apologize for remarks said or displayed on-air about the Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama.

First Fox contributor Liz Trotta apologized for joking about Obama being assassinated. The next apology came when Fox anchor E.D. Hill did the mea culpa after describing an affectionate fist bump between Barack and Michelle Obama as a “terrorist fist jab.”

And now the latest apology from Fox is about an on-screen graphic reading, “Outraged liberals: Stop picking on Obama’s baby mama.” The terminology “baby mama” is slang for an unmarried mother of a man’s child.

I’ve decided, so jump in and share your decision here.

TWC Preps for FiOS NYC Assault

June 11, 2008 12:48 PM

Verizon’s FiOS service is set to launch in New York City this fall, and Time Warner Cable is making a smart move.

It doesn’t sound like much on the surface, mainly a few new tech features, but—more important—letting its cable subscribers lock in price guarantees.

That’s the real killer app in a war that will be won on price.

My friend Bobby in White Plains, N.Y., just dumped her service provider, Cablevision, and its triple-play service. She loved Cablevision’s video, voice and cable modem, but she was sick and tired of the annual price increases.

So as we speak, she’s enduring the daylong FiOS installation, and I can’t wait to hear how she fares.

She made the switch because FiOS is locking in her rate for two years. And that’s the only reason she’s putting up with the grief of making the change.

Anyone else out here who has made the switch to FiOS? How do you like it?

I’d switch in a New York minute, but it’s not available on the spit of sand where we live.

Presidential Nominees Support ‘Army Wives’

June 5, 2008 10:38 AM

Presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama salute the U.S. troops abroad in spots airing during the season premiere of Lifetime’s wildly popular “Army Wives.”

Each candidate taped a 30-second spot saluting the troops that will air within the wildly popular series about how spouses cope and support one another while their husbands are at war.

It’s a brilliant move from Lifetime, but a no-brainer for McCain or Obama. How can anyone not support the troops?

What would be more interesting, and more inflammatory would be if both contenders taped 30-second spots for CNBC’s “Kudlow & Co.,” saying “I feel your pain,” as rising gas and food prices have consumers strapped, with the economy now being voters’ No. 1 issue this election.

I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen. Are you?

TW Cable Plays With Fire in Texas

June 3, 2008 11:59 AM

Time Warner Cable confirmed to the Washington Post today that it is conducting a test in Beaumont, Texas, to measure cable users’ uploads and downloads of Internet data, and to charge more to those subscribers who are heavy Internet users via cable modem.

TW Cable acknowledges that, like most multiple system operators, 5% of its subscriber base takes up half of the cable line capacity. The test will be watched widely, as most MSOs would love to do the very same thing.

On the surface, this sounds fair. Wireless telephone providers charge more if subscribers go over their monthly phone minutes. We’ve all been hit there.

But TW Cable is playing with fire here, because its telco competitors, which also provide high-speed Internet service through DSL, do not have those technology concerns and have no plans to charge more to broadband hogs.

This new log on the campfire could heat up competitive wars between cable and telco providers, but cable doesn’t have much choice, given its technical limitations.

I predict TW Cable’s test in Texas will be a litmus test and one that could lead to widespread changes for cable modem users, as well as subsequent brushfires in the competitive wars.