If you're a Time Warner Cable subscriber looking forward to catching Hugh Jackman and Lisa Kudrow on Late Show with David Letterman Friday, you might want to change your plans.
After another round of failed negotiations over fees related to retransmission consent—the permission that cable and satellite operators need to get from broadcasters to carry their programming—CBS has gone dark for Time Warner customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. The kerfuffle also impacts CBS-owned Showtime, The Movie Channel (TMC), Flix, and Smithsonian Channel.
Over the course of the back-and-forth, Time Warner has said that CBS is demanding six times as much to carry CBS content to about 3.5 million of its 15 million customers (those in certain large metropolitan areas, it seems) calling the demands "outrageous" and "out of line and unfair" and more than others pay for the same programming. CBS said Time Warner has been engaging "in a public campaign of disinformation and voodoo mathematics (featuring wildly inflated percentages)" and accused Time Warner Cable of having a "short-sighted, anti-consumer strategy."
In the meantime, Time Warner is instructing customers that they can visit CBS's website, as well as the sites of individual programs, to view many shows. The company also says that people may be able to get CBS's free over-the-air signal using an antenna.
The consensus seems to be that CBS will win this fight, because it's the most popular network on TV and customers probably won't stand for being without it—regardless of who they ascribe fault to.
These types of content fights are all too common these days. A year ago DirecTV and Viacom went through a similar struggle with 17 Viacom channels pulled for 9 or 10 days over fees as well.
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