Time Warner Cable has made good on their threat to pull CBS and Showtime from the airwaves this weekend. For a time, it appeared that the two sides would be able to reach a deal, as deadlines for the talks were extended throughout the past week. (West Coast Under the Dome fans narrowly avoided missing this week’s episode when the two sides opted to again extend their talks.)
But on Friday afternoon, Time Warner Cable subscribers in several markets began realizing that CBS and Showtime have already been removed from their lineups.
Time Warner’s contract with CBS (Showtime is owned by CBS) expired in June — since then, the cable company has been in continuously extended talks with the network over the retransmission fees it pays CBS.
The divide between what the two sides want would appear to be potentially insurmountable. According to BTIG Research, CBS is seeking upwards of $2 per subscriber per month; it’s thought that Time Warner is looking to pay under $1/sub/month. Given that this is only the start of several transmission battles between the broadcasters and cable providers, the outcome of this skirmish will be watched with keen interest by many within the industry.
There are still several unknowns: how this will affect CBS’s ratings, particularly given the strength of its summer original series, Under the Dome, which was recently renewed for a second season; and for how long the blackout will continue. The issue goes far beyond just Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas — it affects channels in such markets as Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. It is also not just limited to Showtime and CBS; other channels affected by the blackout include the Smithsonian Channel and pay networks FLIX and TMC.
Both CBS and Time Warner Cable released statements on Friday afternoon, each accusing the other of being uncooperative.
“We agreed to an extension on Tuesday morning with the expectation that we would engage in a meaningful negotiation with CBS,” said Time Warner Cable in a prepared statement. “Since then, CBS has refused to have a productive discussion.”
CBS put its own spin on the volatile situation: “Time Warner Cable has conducted negotiations in a combative and non-productive spirit, indulging in pointless brinksmanship and distorted public positioning — such as the fictional and ridiculous 600% increase CBS supposedly demanded — while maintaining antiquated positions.”
And, finally, in its press release, Showtime — which is currently airing new seasons of Ray Donovan and Dexter on Sunday nights (sorry, subscribers!) — described the move as “unnecessary” and “punitive to our subscribers.”
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