Friday, August 9, 2013

AARP Outraged at Time Warner's Blackout of CBS, Mobilizes Members to Action

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS, which led Time Warner to drop the network on August 2 around 5:00 p.m., has now entered its eighth day. The blackout has directly affected subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. As of Friday, neither side displayed any signs of progress in negotiations nor made any overtures toward ending the dispute. The acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission told the press that her agency "will continue to urge all parties to stay and resolve in good faith this issue as soon as possible. However, I will affirm to you that I am ready to consider appropriate action if this dispute continues." But leaders at AARP, a non-governmental interest group that advocates for CBS' predominant demographic, say they can't afford to wait for the FCC to act. "Our members simply don't have time to see if the government will step in and end this devastating stalemate," complained Morris Irving Harolds, an AARP representative from California. "Literally, some of these people have only days left to live."

A minority of CBS' audience under 60 will miss out on select programming, such as "Big Bang Theory" (perhaps) or movies and original series on Showtime, but younger viewers tend to be savvy enough to find their favorite shows online. Those nearing 50, a sort of middle-ground demographic, will be impacted most by the block on golf's Major Championship this weekend. The rest of CBS' fanbase, sadly, will be left in the dark.

Harolds accused Time Warner of age discrimination by targeting CBS and not other networks.

"Our mission statement at AARP basically sums up how we once perceived CBS' value proposition: that both our organizations are 'for people age 50 and over, dedicated to enhancing quality of life for all as we age,'" he said. "CBS may have forsaken these commitments, but AARP certainly hasn't. And we're prepared to fight."

The blackout has left millions of America's senior citizens without access to televised entertainment. Nearly all other networks, particularly those still accessible by older TV sets with rabbit-ear antennas, offer programming choices Harolds described as "too racy, both in the sense of being inappropriately titillating and inappropriately ethnic, too socialist, too radical, too immature, too modern, too thought-provoking and just too darn gay."

CBS, on the other hand, provides the elderly a full schedule of easy-to-digest criminal investigation and police procedural shows about detectives who honor the dead, avenge the dead, talk to the dead or who are themselves dead.

AARP has organized a campaign with its members, most of whom have already mobilized into action, according to Harolds.

"We've got a lot of cheesed off TV watchers with nothing but time, crotchety attitudes and endless supplies of paper and pens," he cautioned. "CBS and Time Warner better prepare themselves for a flood of strongly worded letters -- a flood that would've intimidated Noah."

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