Retrans discussions back on as TWC restores CBS programmes after blackout

Editor | 31-07-2013

The saga of the retrans dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS has reached a critical stage after the cable co dropped the nuclear option of blacking out services, albeit temporarily.

The dispute centres on a demand by CBS for an increase in fees for programming that TWC regards as unprecedented, unreasonable and unacceptable. The cableco asserts that that CBS wants it to pay over 600% more for some content that it pays in other areas from coast to coast for the same programming. For its part CBS calls its new charges "fair compensation" and dismissed TWC's claims as "disinformation and voodoo mathematics."
At midnight on 29 July following inconclusive negotiations, TWC pulled the plug on CBS broadcast stations, Showtime, TMC, Flix and Smithsonian from its channel line-ups. Following a brief period where screens went dark, it restored services and returned to the negotiation table.
In a statement issued after services were restored, a Time Warner Cable spokeswoman issued a statement saying: "At the request of CBS, we have halted going dark on their channels ... The outrageous demands for fees by CBS Corporation have forced Time Warner Cable to remove several of its networks and broadcast stations from our customers' line-ups. As of midnight ET, Time Warner Cable customers in New York City, Dallas and Los Angeles will no longer receive their local CBS broadcast stations. In addition, we have been forced to remove Showtime, TMC, Flix and Smithsonian from our line-ups across the country.
"We offered to pay reasonable increases, but CBS's demands are out of line and unfair and they want Time Warner Cable to pay more than others pay for the same programming ... We regret any inconvenience caused by the CBS/Showtime blackout, and we're working hard to restore the programming at a reasonable price. Switching is not the answer; sooner or later CBS will threaten others and go dark, just as they have with DISH in the past and with us today. We thank our customers for their patience, and we hope to resolve this situation soon."
Responding by breaking what has been some reticence on the matter, CBS issued its own statement, saying: "In spite of all our efforts to hammer out a fair agreement, Time Warner Cable has dropped CBS and Showtime from its channel line-up effective midnight EDT. Meanwhile, they continue to engage in a public campaign of disinformation and voodoo mathematics (featuring wildly inflated percentages) while doggedly restating their positions.
"Time Warner Cable seems incapable of accepting the concept that the value of a company's programming should be in line with its popularity. It is no mystery why this company has dropped more than 50 television stations from its service in the last five years alone, some as recently as last week. CBS remains resolute in the pursuit of fair compensation for our programming and will use the full resources available to us to make sure that Time Warner Cable subscribers are aware of its short-sighted, anti-consumer strategy. In the end, of course, an agreement will be reached. We continue to hope that outcome may be achieved very soon and we can get back to focusing on delivering great content to the customers we share."