TWC, CBS End Blackout, Carriage Dispute Resolved

The month-long, sometimes testy carriage disagreement between CBS and Time Warner Cable  -- where TV stations and CBS cable networks were off the air -- is over.

On Sunday, the two parties announced they had an agreement: CBS was back on the Time Warner Cable systems in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, and CBS’ cable networks, including Showtime and CBS Sports, will be available to Time Warner Cable subscribers in all U.S. markets where CBS cable channels had aired.
Les Moonves, president/chief executive officer of CBS Corp, in a memo to employees, said: “This was a far more protracted dispute than anyone at CBS anticipated, but in spite of the pain it caused to all of us, and most importantly the inconvenience to our viewers who were affected, it was an important one, and one worth pursuing to a satisfactory conclusion. That has been achieved.”

Moonves didn’t go into details.

It has reported that CBS was paid around 50 cents per subscriber per month from many cable, satellite and telco TV/video distribution deals -- but was looking for somewhere around $2.00 per subscriber per month. CBS’ justification was that in comparison to ESPN, which is getting around $5.00 per subscriber per month, it believed CBS should get far more for its programming because its ratings are significantly higher than cable networks.

Time Warner Cable said on its Web site: “We have reached an agreement that returns CBS and CBS-owned programming to your channel lineup. ... As in all of our negotiations, our main goal was to hold down costs and retain our ability to deliver a great video experience for our customers. We’re pleased that we successfully achieved both."

But TWC added that the month-long blackout of television stations like the one with CBS, which started on August 2, is still a reality going forward, concerning possible future snags in carriage negotiations: “It’s also really encouraging that over 50 consumer organizations and legislators have joined us in calling for Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to reassess the 21-year-old rules that allow this sort of broadcaster brinksmanship to happen in the first place. We hope that Congress and the FCC will pay attention to this growing call to action and reform these outdated laws.&rdquo



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