Commentary

CBS, TWC Quarrel -- And Fans Pay

Is there anything more unnerving than watching financial behemoths fight over money?

As CBS and Time Warner Cable hurl accusations at each other to win public support for their fee battle, who wins? It may keep lawyers and publicists happy and flush, but it’s a pain for viewers.

At present, CBS stations are blacked out in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and other markets. Household ratings are dropping in all markets; New York, Los Angeles and Dallas account for about 14% of American TV homes.

If you’re a CBS watcher, you’re missing various shows, including “The Mentalist” or “Unforgettable.” But if you’re a Showtime subscriber, you’re also missing the final episodes of “Dexter.”

Assuming you, like me, have been following the exploits of America’s favorite serial killer — or avenging angel, as Dexter sees himself — for years, the frustration is acute! Added diss: The day after I lost the ability to watch the first of the three final episodes, TWC raised my cable price.

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Oh, the humanity.

And it did so, while running a statement on TV that read, in part, it was committed to “reasonable rates.”

This is what is known as irony.

After all, when the shouting is over, whatever the resolution, TWC customers will be stuck with the bill, which unlike the stock market, is on a perennial upswing.

What’s a fan to do? Illegal downloads are out. There aren’t full episodes on YouTube — I checked. I’ve considered befriending anyone with FiOS, but only if our friendship is finite — a few Sunday nights and it’s history.

When CBS and Time Warner have their annual fee arguments, it’s hard to garner much sympathy. They are giant corporations with ample funds, while the subscribers that keep their coffers full have no say. Conversely, the executives in $5,000 suits yelling at one another receive bonuses that could pay cable rates for thousands of viewers — for years.

Aside from the option of dropping TWC and adding FiOS in Manhattan, which means disentangling double or triple play for many consumers, there is little recourse, save cord-cutting.

Perhaps it would be easier if we sent Dexter to the negotiating table. When it comes to cutting deals, he’s a natural.

6 comments about " CBS, TWC Quarrel -- And Fans Pay".
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  1. William Buckley from FarePlay, August 12, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.

    As we saw with HBO's "Game of Thrones" in Australia and other countries, when programming is available in certain markets and not others, fans turn to unauthorized, pirate, sites for the content.

    This diverts revenue from the show's producer, networks and ultimately other individuals working in support of programming. It also drives people to sites that some ordinarily would not visit.

    None of these are good for the audience or the industry.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, August 12, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.

    Could viewers in blocked-out cities just buy a Slingbox and mail the streaming mechanism to friends/family in unblocked cites?

  3. Fred Hutton from Better Television, August 12, 2013 at 2:23 p.m.

    I don't understand. Why dosen't everybody just hook their rabbit ears or digital antenna up to their TV and pick up CBS over the air? It's Free and Time Warner can lump it. It won't help with Showtime, but CBS is FREE OTA. Always has been.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 12, 2013 at 3:06 p.m.

    How about somebody(s) who still have a vcr and tape it to send to other people with old vcrs for Showtime ? Note: People in buildings and certain communities will not allow antennae and rabbit ears do not work although the bunny is worth a try. Aero will be a partial solution.

  5. Lisa Gansky from White Ops, August 12, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.

    I don't understand why, but FIOS is "unavailable" to even be wired in my building, despite the apartment building directly across the street having FIOS installed. It doesn't make any sense, really. I personally have ended up paying $189 for the "triple play" and sports package, one DVR/cable box combo, and NO premium movie stations. Yes folks, nearly $200! If they're charging everyone as much as they charge me, TWC should have more than enough $$$ to pay whatever CBS/Showtime want, and still make plenty of profit.

  6. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, August 13, 2013 at 5:24 a.m.

    Any programing that TWC and CBS offer can be found elsewhere, one have only to search for it, it can be found and may be a lot cheaper just not all in the same place...

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