Get Ovation Back on Time Warner Cable

Shortly before the Christmas holidays, Ovation TV was alerted by Time Warner Cable that they would be dropped from its channel line-up effective January 1, 2013.  As the only channel on Time Warner Cable completely devoted to the arts, Ovation is perhaps the best way for nationwide viewers to access world-class ballet, orchestral performances, musicals, and contemporary arts and music.  For almost three months now, that access has been removed.

In an economic climate in which arts and music programming are being cut from our nation’s public schools, more and more students have turned to arts programming on the most accessible of all media: their televisions.  Ovation allows those without the economic means to purchase tickets to Broadway, visit museums, and go to the opera, for example, to enjoy those pleasures for free (or for the cost of basic cable).  Perhaps most troublesome is that Time Warner Cable has a monopoly in parts of Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens – areas that are widely recognized as the more underserved and economically challenged boroughs of New York City.  With no ability to switch to Verizon Fios, Comcast, or Dish, (all of whom still feature Ovation in their channel line-up), those viewers who are most at risk of not having access to art in their own cities are left with no alternative way of viewing exclusive arts programming at home.

More than just a television channel, Ovation has donated enormous sums to arts programs around the country; approximately $14 million has been allocated to such causes.  RxArt, like so many other arts non-profits, has benefited enormously from Ovation’s support since they came on the air in 2007.  Ovation produced public service announcements and short films for RxArt, disseminating our message across the country and helping raise awareness of the work we do.  Like Ovation, RxArt believes that art should be available to everyone – in the most unexpected of places, like in a hospital waiting room or on a CT scan machine, art can serve a vital purpose, ease tension and inspire thoughts beyond that of fear.  To see a channel dedicated so tirelessly to promoting arts and culture cut from millions of households is a tragedy.

Time Warner Cable cannot rationalize their cutting of Ovation by a drop in ratings or viewership.  According to Nielsen, Ovation is the sixth fastest growing network: it has grown from a presence in 5 million homes five years ago to over 51 millions homes prior to the January 1st drop.  Furthermore, Time Warner Cable has violated its franchise agreement in New York by not giving Ovation proper notice of its termination.

RxArt has joined forces with other arts groups around New York City and, with Gotham Government Relations, has attended and spoken at public rallies at City Hall and Brooklyn Borough Hall.  With the support of elected government officials, Brooklyn-born and Queens-raised actress Rosie Perez, Bertha Lewis and The Black Institute, and Urban Arts Partnership, among others, we have brought this issue to our city council and are calling for a joint hearing before the Zoning & Franchise, Cultural Affairs, Education, and Consumer Affairs Committees, all of whom are involved due to both the legal and ethical considerations at hand.

Yesterday, we presented Speaker Christine Quinn’s office with 45,000 signatures of Ovation supporters.  We are anxious to resolve this, get Ovation back on the air with Time Warner Cable, and prove that the arts deserve a place on our television as much as the sports games and sitcoms currently filling our dials.

To show your support, please visit Ovation’s Take Action page and add your name to the tens of thousands of others who are dedicated to preserving our culture and our nation’s access to it.

Image Rosie Perez
RxArt’s Morgan Jacobs at City Hall Rally, December 19, 2012.  Courtesy of Citizens for Access to the Arts.

Image Morgan Jacobs
Rosie Perez at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Rally, January 10, 2013.  Courtesy of Citizens for Access to the Arts.

Categories: Partners