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Sugar Bowl Could Be Blacked Out To Some Tampa And Orlando Residents

As reported by the St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel, Fox owned and operated stations in Tampa and Orlando are threatening to go dark unless Bright House (if you live in the Tampa market) and Time Warner (if you live in Orlando) pay a $1 per subscriber. Of course, the cable company would not pay a dollar, you would. So when would this start? The day before the Sugar Bowl.

It may feel like a rerun, but Fox TV owner News Corp. is threatening to pull its broadcast affiliates, cable channels and regional sports channels from all Time Warner Cable systems if both sides can't reach an agreement by Dec. 31.

WTVT Fox 13 in Tampa, WOFL Fox 35 in Orlando, Fox Sports Florida, and F/X (no "Always Sunny...") would go dark. Sun Sports, since it is partially owned by Comcast, seems like it would survive. While this will impact about 1.8 million homes, satellite and other cable companies are not under the same pressure by Fox to pay to carry what was once a free signal. If you still live in the dark ages and have an antenna TV, you can get Fox for free. But now Fox is set on making Brighthouse/Time Warner customers pay a $1 a month for the pleasure of "So You Think You Can Dance" and Joe Buck blowing another call on a dramatic touchdown. Also, the pleasure of seeing Tim Tebow's last football game. 

That last point seems to be the biggest motivation for Fox to get people to dish out the cash. Fox is not threatening to drop the big moneymaker, Fox News. Just dropping the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowl, NFC Playoffs and any Gator basketball games on Fox Sports Florida. Before you say, "I don't care if my cable bill goes up a buck," that is not the only issue. If Fox is allowed to charge cable customers for something that was free, they will do it to every cable company. The other networks will follow suit, and with five major broadcast networks and independent stations in some markets, you're looking at paying $60-70 more per year on cable. And that's for something that was once free. /says the former communications graduate

Orlando Time Warner customers were already once held hostage by their CBS affiliate, but that was resolved with no added charge to customers. Gator fans who are at risk of missing the Sugar Bowl might want to cave, but this is between the cable companies and Fox. You might want to look at satellite packages if you want to see Timmy on January 1.