[opendtv] Time Warner Cable, CBS at odds over distribution deal

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List “DTV” <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2013 10:19:45 -0400


Time Warner Cable, CBS at odds over distribution deal

July 11, 2013, 1:05 p.m.

Although neither side is taking shots at each other publicly, there is an 
undercurrent of tension between Time Warner Cable and CBS Corp. as the two 
companies attempt to negotiate a new distribution deal.

Time Warner Cable's agreement to carry CBS-owned TV stations including KCBS in 
Los Angeles, the basic cable channels CBS Sports Network and Smithsonian, and 
the pay network Showtime expired at the end of June. Since then, there have 
been a couple of extensions, the latest one running to a few days before the 
end of the month.

It has been several years since Time Warner Cable and CBS sat across from each 
other at the negotiation table. The price the cable operator is paying now for 
the CBS stations is well under $1 per-subscriber, per-month, a person familiar 
with the matter said. 

CBS is looking for a hefty increase. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves has not 
been shy about making the case that the network should be getting more than 
popular cable channels.TNT, for example, gets over $1 per-subscriber, 
per-month, according to industry consulting firm SNL Kagan.

Time Warner Cable is likely eager to get a deal done now because in a few 
months football will be back and the last thing the cable operator wants is to 
lose CBS stations that are carrying games.

Conversely, CBS knows that the closer the first games get without a deal, the 
more leverage it has in the talks.

That said, if sports fans lose football, expect certain members of Congress to 
use the business dispute as a opportunity to grandstand, attack both companies 
and demand government action. That is the risk the firms take if they go past 
the point of no return.

CBS has yet to have a so-called retransmission consent negotiation reach the 
point where its signal went off a pay-TV distributor because of a contract 

Another component complicating these talks is Showtime. Because it is a premium 
channel, consumers opt to subscribe to it rather than having to take it as part 
of their pay-TV package. It is unlikely that Showtime would be yanked along 
with CBS' other channels as such a move would take money out of both companies' 

Neither side is commenting publicly on the negotiations. 
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