At Rain-Soaked Open, Weather TV Needed


The Wire had a correspondent at last Thursday’s (June 18) rain-threatened first-round of the U.S Open golf tournament, at the Bethpage Black course near Cablevision Systems headquarters on Long Island outside New York City.

The people’s course, in Bethpage State Park. Where Tiger triumphed in 2002. Sweet. Well worth a trip that involved a car drive, a subway trip, a railroad excursion, a shuttle bus and a walk.

The rain was intermittent, but certainly seemed playable. If the golfers could endure, The Wire could too, making it to the first tee around 10 a.m.

Instantly, the bull horn sounded, to suspend play.

There’s something to be said for timing being everything.

Umbrellas held high, The Wire dug in for a wait. A guy who said his name was Macgruder joked about how the Scottish invented golf to have something to do when it rained. The Curb Your Enthusiasm episode in which Larry didn’t trust the golfing meteorologist came to mind. So did the impact the weather would have on ESPN and NBC’s ratings.

Some golf notables — Rory Sabbatini, Luke Donald, Geoff Ogilvy and Paul Casey among them — sloshed by en route to clubhouse. Then, photographers and camera men dragged their equipment back up the hill.

On the 18th green, three squeeges were in full push. That was to be expected. But judging by the water getting raked off the fairway below, it became apparent this round was unlikely to be saved.

With cell phones prohibited (no snapshots of Tiger — or, perish the thought, a ring tone roughing a drive), there wasn’t any easy way to call and update Mother Nature’s plan. And at least where the hoi polloi dodged the growing puddles and slid through the matted grass, TVs and computers with weather updates were hidden.

Meanwhile, a Jumbotron replayed Tiger Woods’s physical pain and Rocco Mediate’s emotional rollercoaster during an encore of their 18-hole U.S. Open playoff duel at Torrey Pines in California last June.

Then a blank screen. As the satellite searched for its signal, we hoped for The Weather Channel, Cablevision’s local News 12 channel or perhaps its sister traffic-and-weather service. Alas, Tiger-Rocco returned.

The Wire planned to, too. But on Saturday, when another deluge was forecast. Hopefully the TV issues were worked out by then.

Free Museum Days Help Lift Ovation

Ovation TV is crediting its local affiliate efforts with helping pick up cable subscribers lately.

The arts network has local programs going with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications currently. It has launched local video-on-demand fare on Comcast in Chicago, with programs including Art & the City: Chicago and with Comcast is sponsoring free Tuesdays at the Museum of Contemporary Art there.

With Time Warner, Ovation is doing free days at the Dallas Art Museum and sponsoring “Jazz Fridays” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In New England, Ovation is working with Charter to support its “Live It” loyalty program by supplying a number of local art and cultural assets for customer rewards, including museum memberships and theater tickets.

The payoff: Comcast added Ovation in several new markets this year, including Houston, Boston and, in August, Portland, Ore. Time Warner Cable added it in Albuquerque, N.M., and parts of the New York City market, and Charter added Ovation subscribers in New England.

The network is at 32 million subscribers now, projecting 37 million at year-end.

To FCC Turning 75, A Plea for Diversity

The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council wished the Federal Communications Commission a happy birthday last Friday (June 19) but said it needed to improve its record.

The FCC opened its doors June 19, 1934, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested to Congress that there was a need for an agency to oversee all the services “which rely on wires, cables, or radio as a medium of transmission.”

In a statement, MMTC chairman and former FCC commissioner Henry Rivera said the FCC owed a debt of gratitude to a lot of people who had “devoted their lives to telecom policy and the public interest.”

He also said the new FCC needed to devote itself to meeting the challenge of producing diversity and competition “in all of the industries it regulates.

Rivera advised the Obama campaign and was at one time a candidate for FCC chairman. His emphasis on ownership diversity is a sentiment shared by acting chairman Michael Copps.

According to staffers, the FCC had planned a birthday party Friday afternoon in the commission meeting room.