Mark Cubanís HD-Net dumped by T-W

Chris Forrester

Someone, somewhere, should recognise the pioneering work done in HDTV broadcasting by people like Mark Cuban (and also the Rainbow Media folk at Voom). If ever thereís an HDTV ĎHall of Fameí then Cuban should be the first inductee. But there are frequently no prizes for pioneers, just the notorious arrows! Cubanís HD-Net is being dropped by Time Warner cable, effective May 31.

Two channels are affected, HDNet, and HDNet Movies. The move deprives Cuban Ė not short of a few dollars Ė of carriage fees from about 8.7m cable homes on the T-W system. T-W Cableís PR boss Robyn Watson said: "There's a limited appeal for the programming. In a world with more than 100 HD channels, being in HD is not enough. We are adding other channels in HD to give our customers more choice."

Cuban, talking to Multichannel News, said he would not comment "on ongoing negotiations." However, he argued with T-Wís description of HDNet's programming as lacking appeal. "[T]here are millions of viewers who enjoy our unique and exclusive programming," Cuban stated, adding that "we are not a cookie-cutter network like those from the big media conglomerates" and claiming that HDNet's viewers "do business with providers specifically to get our progamming."

Denver-based (but Dallas HQíd) HDNet launched in September 2001, and features up to 20 hours per week of original programming, including a Dan Rather-hosted news magazine show. Mark Cuban, who co-founded Broadcast.com (which was sold to Yahoo! For $5.9bn), owns the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team.

HDNet remains widely distributed on US cable, and DTH satellite.