Time Warner Cable
pulled a monumental
public relations gaffe
last month when it
bollixed a service call with none other than
the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Jean-
Luc Picard. Following a 36-hour attempt
to get TWC service at his new home in
Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood,
Capt. Picard, also known as Sir Patrick
Stewart, tweeted that he’d “lost the will to
live.” Followers jumped on the remark like
a landslide of tribbles. By the time TWC
caught on, the die was cast. A customer
service rep who tweeted fealty to the
captain-knight was told politely to step off.
Picard-Stewart later tweeted a “thank you”
note to Dish Network for “rescuing us from
the Faustian @TWCable_NYC with your
prompt and professional service.”
The incident was comical but
illustrative. Big cable companies
monopolize pay TV service within their
footprints because they bundle it with the
fastest broadband available in most areas.
They have the fastest broadband available
in most areas because phone companies—
make that Verizon—laid fiber just long
enough to bring cable operators to the
negotiating table. So cable companies
rule in their respective service areas,
which is good for them but not so good
for consumers, be they truck drivers or
beknighted starship captains.
That’s going to change in short order.
Dish’s Charlie Ergen can smell blood in
the water before it’s there. He’s already on
the cusp of launching satellite broadband
service, and now he’s got a brand new BFF.
I’ll be surprised if Sir Patrick isn’t hawking
for Dish Network by the time this magazine
comes out. You can certainly bet that Dish
Network provided Stewart with its very
latest technology, including the Hopper
set-top that can be programmed to skip
commercials on broadcast networks.
I know if I were a broadcaster in New
York, I’d be sending roses and chocolates
to Park Slope.