US pay-TV provider DirecTV has come out in support of Time Warner Cable in its retransmission dispute with CBS, suggesting that the conduct of content companies had “reached a new low” in such battles.
After failing to reach agreement by a 5 p.m. deadline on Friday August 2, Time Warner Cable (TWC) dropped the network in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and several other markets. That deadline was one of a number set since the existing contract expired at the end of June. In the meantime, the network was kept on the cable company’s line up.
“Unfortunately, despite our continued efforts to reach agreement, CBS has been uncompromising – making demands that are completely inconsistent with the agreements we’ve reached with hundreds of other broadcasters,” said TWC CEO Glenn Britt in a statement. “As a result, we were unable to reach an agreement by this evening’s deadline and we are no longer authorised to carry the CBS-owned broadcast affiliates, such as KCBS Los Angeles, WCBS New York, and KTVT Dallas, as well as other CBS-owned cable networks, such as Showtime, TMC, Flix, Smithsonian and CBS Primetime on Demand programming. We regret that CBS has put Time Warner Cable and, most importantly, our customers in this position.”
“We deeply regret this ill-advised action, which is injurious not only to our many affected viewers, but also to Time Warner Cable itself,” said CBS, in a statement. Throughout this process, Time Warner Cable has conducted negotiations in a combative and non-productive spirit, indulging in pointless brinksmanship and distorted public positioning – such as the fictional and ridiculous 600% increase CBS supposedly demanded – while maintaining antiquated positions no longer held by any other programming distributor in the business. CBS, for its part, is eager to make an agreement in line with the kind it has struck with every other cable, satellite and telco provider, and has continually sought reasonable term extensions to get that job done. 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.