Yesterday, Time Warner Cable stopped transmitting CBS and CBS's premium cable channel Showtime to 3 million customers around the country because the two companies are fighting over transmission fees. Naturally there's a lot of finger-pointing!
Time Warner Cable said, "We agreed to an extension on Tuesday morning with the expectation that we would engage in a meaningful negotiation with CBS. Since then, CBS has refused to have a productive discussion. It’s become clear that no matter how much time we give them, they’re not willing to come to reasonable terms. We thank our customers for their patience and support as we continue to fight hard to keep their prices down." Here's the TWC propaganda for their position.
However, CBS said, "We deeply regret this ill-advised action, which is injurious not only to our many affected viewers, but also to Time Warner Cable itself. Throughout this process, Time Warner Cable has conducted negotiations in a combative and nonproductive spirit, indulging in pointless brinksmanship and distorted public positioning... This is the first time in its history that CBS has been dropped from a cable system. Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, has a long history of taking channels off the air - more than 50 in the last five years alone. It has also chosen to drop Showtime, which is owned by CBS, a move that is completely unnecessary and totally punitive to its subscribers."
Time Warner Cable pays CBS $1 per subscriber to retransmit CBS's programming; it's believed that CBS wants that doubled to $2. Analysts say that now was the time for TWC to have this fight because it's not the fall TV season (in spite of Under the Dome) or football season yet (though pre-season games are supposed to air later this month).
Pivotal Research Group's senior research analyst Brian Wieser told the LA Times, "This will be resolved soon enough. The broadcasters will win. They have the most clout. Time Warner Cable will pay more money, and CBS will make more money. The only question is how long the signal will be off."
The NY Times reports, "Despite recriminations on Friday from both sides, the negotiations are expected to resume as soon as Monday. That does not mean a quick settlement is likely, however. [BTIG analyst Rich] Greenfield said he could foresee CBS’s being dark 'six weeks, if not more.' An executive close to the CBS side of the talks predicted 10 to 14 days." The blackout of Fox stations on Cablevision lasted 10 days back in 2010.
In the meantime, Time Warner Cable has said its customers can watch CBS programming with an antenna or Aereo, or on CBS.com. However, some TWC broadband customers are finding that CBS is blocking them from accessing the site.