Time Warner, CBS Drag Viewers into Their Fee Fight

This image provided by CBS shows a CBS advertisement in Times Square in New York on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. Three million Time Warner Cable customers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas lost access to CBS programming in a fee dispute Friday, threatening their ability to watch popular shows like
NEW YORK -- CBS and Time Warner Cable can't work out their differences, so they want viewers to help settle the fight.

Three million Time Warner Cable (TWC) customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and other cities remained without access to CBS (CBS) for a third day on Sunday, after the cable provider dropped the network in a spat over fees.

The blackout meant affected customers weren't able to watch Tiger Woods win the Bridgestone Invitational on their home screens, or shows including "60 Minutes." Also at stake was preseason National Football League coverage starting next week.

The two sides couldn't agree on the status of their talks either, with CBS saying on Sunday that no negotiations were taking place. A Time Warner representative, Maureen Huff, maintained that, "Talks continue."

In the meantime, the two New York-based companies have been taking their cases to the public, with full-page print ads.

A CBS ad on Sunday, for example, showed a TV screen with shots of the shows people wouldn't be able to watch, including "The Big Bang Theory" and "Big Brother."

"Call Time Warner Cable now," the ad urged. "Tell them you want your CBS 2 back!"

Time Warner Cable customers who turned to CBS this weekend were greeted by a message on white screen saying the network had made "outrageous demands" for fees. It advised viewers that they could still see their favorite shows through several ways, including "using an antenna to get CBS free over the air."

Although CBS sends its signal out over the airwaves for free to anyone with an antenna, about 85 percent of CBS viewers watch TV through a pay TV provider.

Time Warner cut off CBS for viewers in select markets on Friday, saying the network is demanding retransmission fees that are out of line with what it pays other broadcasters. CBS said it had asked the cable provider to continue negotiating while its programming was still on the air. But it said Time Warner rejected the request.

"We remain ready to negotiate in good faith when they are," the network in a statement Sunday.

CBS says it's never been dropped by a cable provider before and that it has successfully negotiated deals with other providers including AT&T (T), Cablevision (CVC), Comcast (CMCSA), DirecTV (DTV) and Verizon (VZ).

CBS is trying to gain revenue from retransmission fees as a buffer against swings in advertising revenue. Analysts say earning revenue from pay TV subscribers is crucial to the network's growth prospects.

Time Warner, meanwhile, says giving in to demands for higher fees would result in skyrocketing bills for customers. DirecTV came to the defense of its competitor, saying it applauded Time Warner for "fighting back against exorbitant programming cost increases."

Time Warner is trying to hold down costs as it fights to keep subscribers. In the most recent quarter, it lost 191,000 cable TV subscribers, ending with 11.7 million at the end of June.

Both companies nevertheless posted healthy quarterly earnings this week. Time Warner Cable grew its net income 6 percent to $481 million, as revenue rose 3 percent to $5.55 billion. CBS Corp. grew net income 11 percent to $472 million on stronger revenue.

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TWC Sucks. I could careless about there so called dispute with CBS. They told me it's for the customer benifit. I don't think they could care to sheets to the wind about how much more we give them. I have been with this TWC for to many years and have nothing but problems with them. I can't record more than 2 programs @ a time. And I would have to watch the second one if I was watching TV @ the time. Then I would get their conflict notice, I would correct and it would come back 5 minutes later conflict. Then for many year my TV would reboot and tell me your tv will be right with you. This has got to be the crappiest service I have been dealing with for years. I am done with them as of 8/09/2013

August 06 2013 at 1:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Big John

This is what happens when federal and state governments allows (middle men) corporations to charge the public for things that should be sold direct for a lot less or even free. All it does is inflate the price of the service and then they have total control of the consumer. Same thing goes for health insurance companies, total rip offs.

August 05 2013 at 5:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I remember when Time, Inc and Warner Brothers were giants in their industry, led by professionals who understood their markets. Now, greedy, MBA's are besmircing their good names. I don't hear much anger from the Time Warner cable customrs, who like lemmings, are led without squealing, to their dooms

August 05 2013 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One word describes this; GREED. Get used to it cause its not changing anytime soon.

August 05 2013 at 2:38 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The viewers are the ones who pay the bills? I can't believe the author of this article is that naive.
Guess they never had to run a business, just write garbage like this article. I doubt you will see an article on how much the fees have went up over the last 2,5,10 years paid to CBS, ESPN, and a host of others.

August 05 2013 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Switch to Dish or ATT, get rid of Time Warner altogether, I've had them they are nothing special.

August 05 2013 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


August 05 2013 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sonnybabe59's comment

I am going to deduct money from my next bill. They will not do it on there own.

August 05 2013 at 1:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

You know... I cant stand TWC. They are the biggest cable provider in L.A., with astronomical fees, and slow internet, no matter how many times you are told their internet is the fastest. Take it from a TWC customer, who is only offered TWC, in my current complex, and their lightening fast internet, sucks ars.

They need to stop this entire greed persona, and put CBS/KCAL9 back on the air ! Im glad CBS/KCAL9 had the guts to actually stick up for themselves, against the greedy cable giant.

Enough TW. Put them back on the air !!

August 05 2013 at 1:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

cbs has blocked their signal on dish tv. no restart is in sight. Extreme raise in cost in cost by raycom given as reason.

August 05 2013 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have no sympathy for TWC. They own a huge share of the market so if they're trying to get their customers to hold a pity party for them, they'll be celebrating alone. TWC is expensive and unrelenting with fee hikes. I was looking for an excuse to get rid of TWC and if they keep me from watching the new season of "Homeland" I'll say adios to another corporate greed monger. Why is it that companies ask for customer loyalty but they shown none back.

August 05 2013 at 12:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply