Op-Ed: Comcast doesn’t want you know they dropped MSG Network & MSG Plus, county exec says


In an editorial, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise lays out why Comcast doesn’t want you to know they dropped the MSG Network and MSG Plus.

Imagine getting home from the grocery store and finding out you paid for something you didn’t get. Then imagine the store refuses to give you what you paid for – or even refund your money.

Or, if you’re a Knicks fan like me, imagine not being able to watch your favorite basketball team after being assured you would be able to.

If you pay for television, you don’t have to imagine that scenario – it’s most likely already happened to you.

TV providers are infamous for dropping channels under the guise of “protecting customers”, even as they bolster their profits by continuing to charge those same customers for the programming they no longer receive. Pretty neat trick.

Here’s how it works. Even though it’s entirely reasonable for consumers to expect a provider to carry all of the major channels in a market or, at a minimum, the networks they advertised at the time they bought a TV package, that’s not necessarily the case.

Buried in hard-to-find disclaimers and lengthy terms of service conditions is language that says the TV provider can change the channel lineup at any time and is not required to carry any particular channel.

So in reality, that means customers have no power over which channels are included in the TV packages they’re paying for. As a consumer advocate, that doesn’t seem fair, and I’m working to give consumers a greater voice in this process.

But an equally urgent question, particularly right now, is: are TV providers fully refunding customers for programming they paid for, but are no longer getting? You – as well as state’s attorney generals and elected officials – may be surprised and disappointed to hear how often that answer is no.

Comcast recently dropped MSG Network and MSG Plus, taking away hundreds of exclusive, live local Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils games from Xfinity customers in the Tri-state area.

According to MSG Networks, Comcast had been charging customers in excess of $10 per month for those channels, and after dropping the programming, only rebated their customers $3.

This would mean that Comcast is continuing to charge more than $7 per subscriber, per month for channels they no longer carry – which adds up to millions of dollars every month that Comcast is pocketing at the expense of its customers.

Comcast and others have engaged in this behavior for far too long. Back in 2012, then Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) argued for “blackout refunds,” observing that millions of Americans were victims of programming disputes and should not have to pay “for services they are not getting.”

For the average consumer, standing up to their TV provider may feel like a lost cause, but there is hope.

In November 2020, at the height of the pandemic – when people were working from home and children were attending school online — Comcast announced its intent to roll out a new (higher) pricing structure for internet customers based on consumption.

Comcast wanted to charge more for broadband at a time when their customers were most reliant on it. Ultimately, thanks to significant pressure from regulators and lawmakers from multiple states, they backed off.

That’s why I’m using my advocate role to shine a light on the anti-consumer practice of continuing to charge for programming customers no longer receive.

TV providers like Comcast are banking on $7 in any individual’s monthly bill going unnoticed. But it’s your money, not theirs. And if you don’t stop them, they’ll keep doing it.

For instance, if you’re one of the Comcast customers in New Jersey, Connecticut or New York who lost MSG Networks, call your state Attorney General to tell them you want a full refund. Without your voices, TV providers will feel no pressure to change.

But if we all work together, we can make them do the right thing. It’s happened before. Imagine that.

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  1. Imagine holding the highest office in Hudson County, where there is an affordable housing crisis, dozens of deaths due to traffic violence a year, and a crumbling infrastructure – all of which you have the power to take action on. And instead of doing anything to address these problems, you wield your power to have THIS op-ed published. Unhinged.

  2. In this dispute both sides are wrong and should never let it go this far bit $7 dollars Remaining in the regional sports fee also covers SNY and Yes. When MSG majority owner James Dolan Owned Cablevision/Optimum before selling out to Altice they did the same thing Comcast is doing now saying that the programmer wanted to much money once with MSG Itself before they owned it.

  3. I hate that Comcast forces a bundle which includes channels I’ll never watch. Like sports. Like religion. Like a Chicago station that shows 70’s reruns. Like QVC. Like TLC. Why can’t consumers pick and choose what we want and pay accordingly?

  4. “…you wield your power to have this op-ed published…” Really? He utilized the SAME power that John Heinis has bestowed upon all who cherish a Free Press can utilize.

    The real issue here is economics and the greed of the NBA, it’s owners, and it’s prima dona players. There was a time when, if one didn’t go to the game at the Garden, he or she could watch it on channel 9 for free. All the television viewer had to do for this bargain was tolerate the commercials. Basketball players made a good living. But cable tv and it’s cohorts changed that. The initial lure of cable was that it was commercial free. The changed rather quickly, as the ‘players’: cable moguls, nba owners, etc. realized they could leverage their product if fans were willing to pay. Sadly,We gave up our power. We indeed can take it back by organizing boycotts of cable by canceling our subscriptions to them. Indeed, that is what MILLIONS of former cable and satellite viewers already have done. Local and regional tv media outlets have definitely taken notice and acknowledged this fact, by giving BACK to those who cherish FREE tv in SPADES. Back in our day, there were 7 vhf tv channels and three uhf channels. Now, there are SEVENTY FIVE FREE channels one can access for a one-time investment of a two dollar antenna.

    One should ask the question of why Giants and Jets games are still aired on free tv. It is probably because those teams have figured that it is more cost effective for them to keep it that way. So now, Knick, Nets, Rangers, Devils, Islanders, Yankees, and Mets fans need to take back the POWER they once had in an earlier, more equitable tv viewing arrangement, where the price of admission was watching a shaving cream commercial. Let us ALL give up cable tv. Let us write to these teams and tell them to pay their lowest salaried performers more, their prima donas less, to END contracts with all cable and satellite providers, to stop selling merchandise made in third world sweat shops. You will then see how fast they give us back the power that we used to have as fans.