Argues case against Time Warner Cable in media

Fox has upped the ante in the battle with Time Warner Cable over a new carriage agreement for Fox O&Os in seven markets, FX and a clutch of other channels.

Fox has launched a website dubbed KeepFoxOn.com and is taking out print and TV spots in key markets to alert viewers that its signals may go dark if the sides don’t reach an agreement by the Dec. 31 contract expiration. Fox and Time Warner have been negotiating for more than nine months, and talks are continuing, but Time Warner is balking at Fox’s push for a $1 per subscriber fee in exchange for the retransmission rights on its Fox O&O signals (Daily Variety, Dec. 17).

The deal on the table also involves carriage renewal terms for FX, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Movie Channel and regional sports outlets in 11 key markets.

Time Warner went on the PR offensive last month with the launch of its “Roll Over or Get Tough” advertising campaign and website. Time Warner maintains it will only have to pass along a steep fee increase to consumers. Fox and other broadcasters have argued that cable operators need to pay more for the rights to carry the signals of the networks’ local broadcast affiliates, which deliver top-tier primetime programming and pricey sports franchises like the NFL.

Fox’s website sounds the alarm that viewers in key major markets including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Detroit, may not have easy access to Fox’s regular NFL games or its coverage of numerous bowl games set for the first week of January. Fox is also warning that viewers may have a hard time finding “American Idol” when it returns Jan. 12.

The Fox site has a “save your programming” countdown clock ticking off the days until the deal expires and a “fact” sheet that makes its case for commanding bigger bucks for its O&O stations.

Our current proposal to Time Warner Cable includes Fox Broadcasting and an impressive portfolio of cable networks, yet we are asking for a total value that is in the same ballpark as what Time Warner Cable pays for ONE (sic) cable network — ESPN,” the site’s FAQ asserts.

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