It’s been 15 days, and still no movement on the contract talks between Time Warner Cable and Journal Communications. There are a number of stations being blocked out in different markets, including WGBA-TV Ch. 26 in Green Bay and WTMJ-TV Ch. 4 here at home.
If you’ve been following along as the banter has gone public, and has been far from friendly … you may be at the point where you are ready to make a change in your viewing habits.
Luckily, viewers have a number of options. I’ve reported on a few before, but I want to spell out a few that you may have not thought of, short of just pulling the plug on the TV altogether.
One option for WTMJ newscasts is to go online to TodaysTMJ4.com where the station is using a service called Livestream to create a 24/7 streaming loop of its latest newscast. When a new one goes live, it then repeats until it is replaced with the next one.
Clayton Rose, the head of the news division of Livestream, said there has been an increase in viewership after retransmission talks breakdown like we are experiencing in Milwaukee.
"We are starting to get interest from radio stations and newspapers," Rose said of his software’s popularity. The platform already serves a number of the largest broadcasting groups as well as HBO, ESPN, Facebook and others.
"We create a news channel that is available at any time from any device," Rose said of the updating flow of newscasts.
Livestream reported a 300 percent increase since July 25 in viewership from TV station markets where Journal is blocked out on Time Warner cable. They are WGBA in Green Bay, KMTV-TV in Omaha, Neb., KMIR-TV Palm Springs, Calif., and WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee.
Online options for NBC shows exist as well, and many can be found at www.NBC.com. Most of the new episodes for current shows appear online 24 hours after it runs on air.
If you are a home owner, you may have an easier option to switch over to DISH, DirecTV or AT&T U-verse, which currently has a retransmission contract with the Journal.
If you are on Time Warner Cable, and just plan on riding out until the sides reach an agreement, you can use the Primetime on Demand for many of the NBC shows as well.
And, there is the free, over-the-air signal, able to be tuned in through an antenna.
"I was in Milwaukee a while ago and did a channel scan," said Richard Schneider, the founder of Antennas Direct. "There are close to 40 digital channels."
Schneider said that many people don’t realize the new antenna options that exist for TV signals, and we talked about the days when it seemed there was an antenna on the top of every home. He and his crew developed the technology, that after the digital transition the TV stations underwent a few years ago, that an antenna about the size of an iPad is all that people need.
"We are seeing a lot of frustrated people," he said. "People feel that they are in a bad relationship and with (dropping cable and getting an antenna) they have a sense of empowerment.
"There tends to be better picture quality (over the air) because there’s less compression. Time Warner has to cram in 500 hundred channels and broadband through the wire. We have 10 pounds of potatoes in a 3 pound sack."
Schneider said he believes we are seeing a time where people are going back to over the air, which is now almost like the old basic service plan. And many people end up supplementing their viewing with online services like Hulu and Netflix.
You can see a number of different antenna options at www.AntennasDirect.com.
BACK TO SCHOOL: WISN-TV Ch. 12 will be hosting a phone bank on Monday and Tuesday next week to help the Salvation Army with its program to get school supplies for MPS students in need.
Former Green Bay Packers players LeRoy Butler and George Koonce will also be a part of the "Class Act" phone banks that will run from 6 to 7 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. each day.
"We are thrilled to partner with the Salvation Army on this drive," said Jan Wade, WISN-TV president and GM.
"These phone banks are an opportunity to respond to the need in our area. Helping school children access the tools they need is an investment in our future and a cause WISN 12 is proud to be a part of."
During the phone banks viewers can all in to make a donation. School supplies will then be purchased and the Salvation Army will distribute items after the school year starts on Sept. 3.
"I grew up in a very poor home, I remember what it's like to feel out of place because you don't have what you need for school," said Major Roger Ross, the Salvation Army Milwaukee County Commander.
"We are committed to providing meaningful assistance to families. Everyone at The Salvation Army thanks all of our wonderful partners and the community for joining us in this effort."
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.