Time Warner Cable Girds For Retrans Battle
Time Warner Cable says its RollOverOrGetTough consumer marketing campaign has now resulted in 95% of respondents telling it not to cave in to demands from TV programmers looking for higher fees.
A Time Warner Cable spokesman says 600,000 of its subscribers have responded with comments for the big cable operator to "get tough" via its Web site, RollOverOrGetTough.com.
A week ago, the cable operator received about 400,000 responses, with virtually all demanding that it hold the line when it comes to programming expenses. Overall, Time Warner Cable has 14 million subscribers; it's the second-largest cable system operator next to Comcast Corp. At present, Time Warner Cable is in heated distribution contract negotiations with News Corp. for its TV stations and some of its cable networks, Scripps Television cable networks and The Weather Channel.
The battle between TWC and Fox, which is owned by News Corp., may be a blueprint for future retransmission negotiations between cable operators and broadcast TV. Both companies say they are prepared to "go dark" if an agreement is not reached by midnight, Dec. 31, although such action could harm both. (The News Corp. deal ends Jan. 1.)
If a deal is not concluded, it could jeopardize Fox network's big broadcast TV events, such as New Year's Day Bowl Championship Series and the debut of "American Idol." News Corp is reportedly looking for deals that would give its TV stations $1 per cable subscribers per month. Cable operators said TV programmers have been looking for 300% increases over their current contract terms.
This week, other TV distributors said they would be raising retail rates to consumers. AT&T U-Verse IPTV video service said it would be hiking monthly rates by $5, from $49 to $54 per month, for its U-Verse U100 and U-family TV packages.
Time Warner recently inked retrans-consent deals with two TV groups: Sinclair Broadcast Group and Local TV LLC.