Americable loses TBS shows
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Americable pulled the plug on TBS Superstation at midnight Tuesday, replacing the popular Atlanta-based cable network with Court TV.
The decision leaves customers on Okinawa and Japan without such perennial rerun favorites as “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “The Cosby Show” and “Home Improvement,” as well as an assortment of movies and sports programming.
“TBS simply said they’re not going to give us their programs anymore, and there’s not much we can do about it,” said Charles Simon, Yokota Americable general manager. “It’s not a good thing for us. We have a lot of angry people calling up here.
“TBS didn’t tell us why, and they don’t really have to tell us why.”
TBS programs were taped in a studio facility at Americable’s Miami headquarters and broadcast in the Pacific theater on a three-week delay, Simon said. Without explanation, the network’s officials told Americable’s home office in early December they no longer would allow their programs to be aired.
“We had to scramble to find a replacement,” Simon said. “I hate to pass the buck but those deals were all made in the States. It makes us seem inept here but when a network says no, there’s not much you can do about it.
“I can guarantee you if there was any way we could’ve kept TBS, we would have. It’s good family TV, and that’s the type of programming we like to carry here.”
Rather than leave a vacant spot on the dial, he said, Americable officials in Miami opted to fill it with Court TV, which features news about the law, justice and crime in the United States and around the world. It also will be broadcast on a three-week delay.
“That’s the only network that would sign a contract on such short notice,” he said.
While conceding that Court TV is “not the same programming,” Simon said there would be no adjustment to the monthly Americable bills of customers.
“In the past, we’ve added programming and not raised the cost of cable bills,” he said. “We hope to do that in the future as well.”
Simon said officials continue to explore alternatives that could be a “suitable replacement for TBS, something geared more toward families,” but no deals have been secured.
Reaction to the cable switch was largely negative Tuesday.
“Thanks a lot, Ted,” Yokota dependent Laurie DeWitt said, referring to TBS and CNN founder Ted Turner. “It’s something that’s supposed to be for the troops. I don’t understand why they’d take it away.
“Our kids watch and we like to watch the old reruns, too. Court TV? Yawn.”
Senior Airman Terence Brown, a floor chief in one of Yokota’s dorms, said he became an Atlanta Braves fan watching TBS and enjoys its classic movies.
“Turner’s got all the best stuff,” he said. “They might as well take all the cable out.
“Court TV? They already have CNN, A&E and Unsolved Mysteries. We don’t need to see all that business. I’m not diggin’ it. It’s not like we have two or three cable channels to choose from.”
Senior Airman Amanda Thomason of the 374th Medical Group agreed.
“I’m not going to watch Court TV. I know that,” she said. “TBS has older movies but they’re still family-oriented movies that we like to watch on weekends.”
Simon said he delayed flipping the switch as long as he could, adding he sympathized with Americable viewers. By Tuesday morning, the Yokota office already had fielded about 10 complaints.
Simon said upset viewers should visit the company’s Web site at www.americablejapan.com to lodge any complaints. He said he routinely answers people through that format.