Monday, August 5, 2013

Time Warner Strikes Again, Gives the Axe to CBS

"Once is happenstance.  Twice is coincidence.  Three times is enemy action." - Ian Flemming.

3.5 million viewers are now without the CBS and Showtime cable channels thanks to failed contract negotiations between Time Warner Cable and CBS corporate.    Per NY Times:

The two sides in the fee dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cablestayed in their respective corners Sunday, and may not engage in further direct confrontation for some time. As a result, CBS’s stations, and cable networks owned by CBS, remained blacked out in many areas, including large parts of New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. The continuing impasse resulted in two popular shows on the pay cable channel Showtime, “Dexter” and “Ray Donovan,” being unavailable to fans in those areas on Sunday night. And it means that the most popular drama of the summer, CBS’s “Under the Dome,” is likely to be blocked to millions of viewers on Monday night.

And per Reuters:

The blackout that began on Friday, when Time Warner Cable dropped the No. 1-rated U.S. broadcast network, has affected an estimated 3.5 million customers, including golf fans who missed Tiger Woods' victory in the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday. CBS, home to hits such as "The Big Bang Theory" and "NCIS," said there were no talks taking place at the moment, but the company remains "ready to negotiate in good faith." Time Warner Cable said it regretted the inconvenience to viewers and hoped to resolve the situation "as soon as possible." Industry analysts said the dispute over how much Time Warner Cable should pay to carry CBS could last until the start of the National Football League season in September, when millions of viewers rely on their cable providers to watch primetime games.
This is America, Jack. And if it's one thing we do not tolerate in America is somebody messing around with our TV shows, dangit.  Now I would chalk this up to the usual contract negotiations gone wrong, but Time Warner Cable has formed a habit of doing this before:

In 2009, Time Warner v. Viacom:
Time Warner Cable Inc. said Wednesday it reached a deal with Viacom Inc. on carriage fees, avoiding a blackout of 19 cable channels including MTV and Comedy Central.
In 2010, Time Warner v. Fox:
Time Warner Cable Inc. and News Corp. have extended their contentious negotiations over carriage fees for the Fox Broadcasting network into the early morning hours of New Years Day on the east coast, averting any programming disruptions for cable subscribers for the time being.
In 2012, Time Warner v. MSG:
The 48-day blackout of the MSG Network on Time Warner Cable is over.
In 2012, Time Warner v. ABC:
Time Warner said Wednesday that it will not be able to provide ABC programming to most of its subscribers in Maine during a contract dispute with Hearst Television, owner of Portland's ABC affiliate, WMTW (Channel 8).The dispute, about how much Time Warner must pay Hearst for the rights to air its stations, led Time Warner to black out WMTW's signal as of Tuesday.In the affected areas, Time Warner subscribers saw a blank screen and a small message where they normally see WMTW programming. The blackout will continue until the dispute is settled.
And now, in 2013, Time Warner v. CBS.  At what point do we admit that the common denominator here in all of these disputes is Time Warner Cable?  And for what?  More money?  Time Warner Cable made $5.55 Billion (with a "B") dollars last year.  It made a net profit of $1.65 Billion dollars free and clear.  And they're arguing with CBS over relative chump change:
In this case CBS, according to several analysts following the situation, has asked for an increase from about $1 per subscriber to about $2.CBS executives have cited the popularity of their network’s shows to justify a fee price closer to what successful cable networks get from cable operators. ESPN, for example, gets the top price of any network, $5.54 monthly per subscriber, according to SNL Kagan.  David Bank, a well-regarded analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said CBS’s financial demands were not only justified, “I would argue they are almost a bargain.” He noted that CBS spends more than $4 billion a year on programming, “four to eight times as much” as cable networks getting similar subscriber fees spend, and that CBS has an audience about five times the size.
My point here is this: Time Warner has every right to make their money.  This is America and we believe in capitalism and free markets.  But don't pretend that you're doing networks like CBS a favor by carrying their programming.  The networks are doing you, Time Warner, the favor and you should pay them the appropriate market rate for their programming.  Without the networks that create television programming, cable providers like Time Warner (who, by the way, refuse to un-bundle their cable packages even though the majority of people only watch the same 10-15 channels) would have nothing to broadcast except dead air.  So my message to Time Warner - Stop blocking people's ability to watch their favorite TV programming which you did nothing to create and GET OVER YOURSELF!

That's it, I'm done.

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