Sometimes it's fun be nostalgic. Sometimes it just makes you mad.
Recently I have been working with a small cable TV provider to conduct a "programming audit". The purpose of this exercise is to review all of their current programming agreements to make sure they are in compliance. In the case of this provider, they also asked me to scan and archive all of their old programming agreements. As a result I have been looking at some programming agreements that were drafted when yours truly was in high school.
One thing you notice immediately is that, as years go by, the agreements themselves become much more complex. For example, I'm looking at an agreement for WTBS Superstation from 1982 that consists of ONE (1) typewritten page. Apparently WTBS didn't use attorneys "back in the day".
Then there were the dearly departed channels of old, no longer with us in name but, after multiple name and format changes, still occupy space on our lineup. RIP The Nashville Network, The Family Channel, Odyssey, and the others who have passed into the great channel lineup in the sky.
The biggest difference between the old days and today is, of course, costs. That 1982 WTBS agreement had a programming cost of 10 cents per sub. Another I looked at was USA Network from 1987. That year the programming rate was a whopping 13 cents.
I was REALLY hoping to find a 1980's agreement for ESPN, but the earliest they had on file was from 1997. Still, the ESPN rate that year was just 83 cents. And of course, we can't forget that NONE of the TV stations were charging for retransmission consent.
Indeed, the good old days.
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June 16, 2021
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