Okinawa cable provider losing rights to seven channels
Stars and Stripes March 30, 2006
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Goodbye Food Channel, hello Discovery Home.
Mediatti Broadcast Communications, the provider of cable television and broadband Internet services on U.S. military bases on Okinawa, has lost its 18-month battle to retain the rights to broadcast seven popular cable channels from the United States.
In a letter sent to cable customers last week, the company announced that it will no longer be able to offer USA, WGN, TNT, TBS, FX, HGTV and the Food Network, effective Friday. The programming was recorded on DVDs in the U.S. and broadcast two weeks later on Okinawa.
Mediatti will continue to offer 69 channels, said Blake Williams, Mediatti’s president and general manager.
The new channels will be offered on tiers one and two, he said. There will be no change in charges to customers.
The company offers a basic package of free channels. Two packages with additional channels cost $34.50 and $47.90. HBO, Showtime and Cinemax are offered for additional fees.
“We regret to announce some channel deletions to our programming,” Mediatti said in the letter. “A few of our program providers that are up for license renewal have decided not to allow us to record their programs for playback at a later date for our subscribers.”
The notification stressed that the providers did not own the copyrights to all of their programming and it would be a violation of international copyright laws to rebroadcast them in Japan. Mediatti had spent 18 months fighting to retain the channels, arguing that even though the bases are in Japan, the audience is American.
“[The providers] argued that since the bases in Okinawa are not owned by the U.S., they are leased from the Government of Japan, that it would be a violation of copyright laws,” Mediatti’s letter stated.
The channels will be replaced by Discovery Kids, Discovery Times, Discovery Home, DIY, AXN, the Military Channel and Discovery Travel, Mediatti announced. The company will continue to offer the basic Discovery and Animal Planet channels, but using the U.S. versions instead of the channels’ Asian programming.
Also, CNN International will be moved from the company’s free tier, which included local command and AFN channels, to Tier One, a pay package, a Mediatti spokeswoman said Tuesday.
“We apologize for the delayed notification of our programming changes, but we wanted to exhaust all avenues and give those program providers every opportunity to change their decision,” the Mediatti letter stated.