Okinawa cable company drops HBO and Cinemax
Stars and Stripes August 23, 2006
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Fans of “Deadwood,” “Entourage” and “The Wire” may have to wait for DVD releases to find out what is happening in their favorite HBO series.
On Thursday, Mediatti Broadband Communications pulled the plug on HBO and Cinemax, citing contractual problems with the two movie channels offered to its premier movie channel subscribers on U.S. military bases on Okinawa.
And while the company is offering free Showtime for six months and The Movie Channel for three months to make up for the loss, there has been a problem in distributing the channels to some customers.
In a letter to subscribers, Mediatti president and general manager Blake Williams said he regretted Mediatti lost its rights to carry HBO and Cinemax.
“This is due to the fact that some of the movie studios that HBO and Cinemax acquire their films from have objected to our recording and time-delay playback,” he said.
Mediatti provided HBO, Cinemax and Showtime as premier movie channels. The rate for two movie channels was $22.50 per month. The full premium movie package, offering three channels, which included Showtime, cost $30.50 a month. Subscribers to those packages will not have to pay the monthly fees during the periods Showtime and The Movie Channel will be offered free.
Most of the programming on Mediatti’s 69 channels — except AFN, local Japanese channels and military service channels — is recorded in the United States and replayed on Okinawa two weeks later.
Mediatti is continuing to seek alternatives, including the possibility of carrying HBO Asia, whose programming would not be delayed, Williams said in his letter to subscribers.
If HBO Asia eventually is offered, Mediatti will provide it free for three months to its movie package subscribers, the letter said.
Mediatti began broadcasting Showtime and The Movie Channel free over the weekend, but not all subscribers received the feed. Williams could not be reached Monday for comment.
Contacted by telephone, a Mediatti sales representative said the problem was scattered across several bases and technicians were investigating the cause.
It is not the first time Mediatti has had to scrap channels. In March the company dropped seven channels — USA, WGN, TNT, TBS, FX, HGTV and the Food Network. At the time Williams said the providers were up for license renewal and had decided not to allow Mediatti to record their programs for playback at a later date.
The discontinued channels were replaced by other offerings.