CBS Stations, Showtime Go Dark for Time Warner Cable Customers

CBS Stations, Showtime Go Dark Time

After weeks of haggling and mud-slinging, CBS and Time Warner Cable remained deadlocked over retransmission fees  — resulting in blackouts Friday afternoon of CBS stations in New York, L.A., Dallas and other markets, as well as Showtime and other CBS cablers for the operator’s 11.9 million subscribers.

Effective 5 p.m. Eastern, Time Warner Cable “has dropped CBS in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and several other markets,” the Eye said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: CBS Blocks Time Warner Cable Internet Users from Full Episodes Online

“We deeply regret this ill-advised action, which is injurious not only to our many affected viewers, but also to Time Warner Cable itself,” CBS said in a statement. “Throughout this process, 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 no longer held by any other programming distributor in the business.”

SEE ALSO: Time Warner Cable Will Credit Showtime Subs for Blackout, But Nothing for Loss of CBS

Time Warner Cable confirmed shortly after 5 p.m. that it was in the process of removing CBS stations primarily in New York, L.A. and Dallas, and that CBS-owned Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix and Smithsonian Channel are also going dark for customers nationwide. CBS is forcing the operator to pull primetime shows from the Time Warner Cable video-on-demand service.

“We agreed to an extension on Tuesday morning with the expectation that we would engage in a meaningful negotiation with CBS,” the cable operator said in a statement. “Since then, CBS has refused to have a productive discussion. It’s become clear that no matter how much time we give them, they’re not willing to come to reasonable terms.”

Friday’s blackout comes after TW Cable earlier this week began removing CBS local owned-and-operated stations and the cable nets after the previous deadline at midnight Eastern Monday. However, the operator halted the blackout just minutes later after CBS came back to the negotiating table.

It appears that this will be the first extended blackout for CBS-owned stations in almost a decade. The fight shows that both sides are willing to go to the mat in the public wrestling match — with CBS intent on grabbing more revenue from pay TV operators, and TW Cable pushing back against hikes in programming costs.

Showtime is blacked out for not only Time Warner Cable customers, but also for subscribers of Bright House Networks, which has an arrangement with the larger operator to piggyback on its programming deals. According to Showtime, it had authorized TW Cable to continue carrying the channel while negotiations continued.

“Showtime has been working in good faith with Time Warner Cable to work out a contract, and is deeply disappointed with Time Warner Cable’s decision to pull Showtime channels,” premium cabler said. “The service interruption is not only completely unnecessary, but totally punitive to our subscribers, and will impact and inconvenience millions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks subscribers in major markets across the country.”

CBS Sports Network is not part of the current negotiation between the companies, and is still being carried on Time Warner Cable.

SEE ALSO: PREVIOUSLY: Time Warner Cable Still Carrying CBS Stations, Cable Networks Amid Clash Over Fees

The blackout could last days or even weeks. With the companies digging in their heels, Time Warner Cable customers are likely facing “an extended multi-week blackout of the CBS network in NY, LA and Dallas,” BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield wrote in a blog post earlier Friday, prior to the channels going dark. For Time Warner Cable “this is ‘the battle’ to fight. Simply put, this is a ‘Once-in-a-Cable Lifetime Opportunity’ to battle retrans.”

CBS, in its statement Friday, said “we hope and believe this period of darkness will be short and that we can all get back to the business of providing the best entertainment, news and sports to the Time Warner Cable customers we both serve.”

Many analysts believe CBS has greater leverage in the dispute but have pointed out that Time Warner Cable will not feel real urgency to reach a pact until the start of the fall TV season and the start of the NFL’s 2013-14 regular season.

The blackout of CBS’s 13 owned-and-operated stations affects an estimated 3 million Time Warner Cable customers. Those stations are: WCBS and WLNY (independent) in New York; KCBS and KCAL (independent) in L.A.; KTVT and KTXA (independent) in Dallas; WBZ and WSBK (independent) in Boston; KDKA and WPCW (The CW) in Pittsburgh; WBBM in Chicago; WKBD (The CW) in Detroit; and KCNC in Denver.

Time Warner Cable alleges CBS is demanding an “unprecedented” premium, asking for more than 600% what the cable operator pays in retrans fees to independent CBS affiliates in other parts of the U.S.

“CBS is making outrageous demands for the right to continue carrying their channels. We are holding the line against broadcasters who continue to make their stations available free over-the-air and online while they demand more from cable customers without delivering any additional value,” the MSO says in an update on its TWCConversations website.

CBS has countered that it’s underpaid relative to its popularity among TW Cable customers, receiving less in retrans fees than lesser-viewed cablers.

“What CBS seeks, and what we always have sought from the beginning, is fair compensation for the most-watched television network with the most popular content in the world. We will not accept less,” the Eye said. “We will not sign away rights not granted to others. We will not give up our channel position or any other asset by which our viewers identify us.”

CBS testily referred to the series of hourly deadline extensions from 8 p.m. to midnight ET on Monday, characterizing that as a stalling tactic by Time Warner Cable. “We will also not be subjected to pointless maneuvers like a series of one-hour extensions and mini-drops that do nothing for either side but annoy our viewers.”

Currently Time Warner Cable pays between 75 cents and $1 per subscriber monthly for CBS stations, and the Eye has likely been seeking around $2 per sub, according RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank.

Watch Time Warner Cable’s video of the “hard work” involved to take channels off its systems:

CBS says its stations have never gone dark because of a retrans dispute with a cable operator, although in 2004 Dish Network pulled several of the Eye’s locals as part of a broader carriage fight with then-CBS parent Viacom. In the past five years, the Eye boasted, it has reached deals with all other major pay TV operators, including Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Cablevision, Verizon FIOS and AT&T U-verse.

In an FAQ on its website, Time Warner Cable advises customers on alternatives to receive the blacked-out programming, including using an over-the-air antenna for free or for those in NYC by signing up for Aereo, the Internet video streaming startup that is being sued for copyright infringement by CBS and other broadcasters. The operator notes that CBS.com provides recent airings of the Eye’s primetime and daytime shows while other programming is available through pay services like Amazon.com, Hulu, Apple’s iTunes Store and Netflix.

Pay TV operators have increasingly complained about broadcasters seeking dramatic fee increases, with a surge in blackouts in the last several years.

Currently, in a separate retrans fight, Journal Broadcast Group’s CBS and NBC stations in four markets remain off the air for TW Cable customers. The operator says the station group is asking for a 200% rate hike, while Journal Broadcast says the increase is only pennies per day per viewer.

In addition, on Thursday, Dish Network customers in 36 markets lost access to 53 television stations owned by Raycom Media after the companies failed to reach a new retrans pact.

CBS is running a 30-second spot about the blackout on its websites, outdoor digital signs (such as digital panels leading into the NYC subway system) and CBS Radio:

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  1. kbandbeast2 says:

    The only thing I don’t like about TWC was they don’t count the Starz Encore channels as paid premium channels. They have tried in the last few years to get me to purchase in addition to the Encore channels, Starz, HBO, Showtime, or Cinemax. I remember a time when there were only three choices which were included in the package No Starz channels at all. They are a lot like AT&T with the nickel and dime taxes and fees. If I didn’t have to use the internet to write, I’d pul the cable plug. .

  2. Launa Ross says:

    I’m fed-up with Time Warner as well. They seem to not give a damn about their customers compared to the money they are sucking in. I don’t understand why they can’t honor the package that a customer signs up with after the first year or whenever the plan ends. Then they expect us to pay extra charges for the same plan that they say, “Is no longer available” never mind the fact that you just saw the exact ad. seconds ago. Now, they want to take channels away from the plan you are paying more for, but fill they don’t need to credit us for the loss. I think every customer should call them daily and request credit until we get what we are paying for, back. CALL THEM.. CALL THEM & DEMAND CREDIT

  3. Linda Shadle says:

    I’m thoroughly SICK of this whole mess! TW sats THEY’RE being picked on, CBS says they just want more money. TW pay the damned extra $2 and get us back our NCIS and other stuff! I’m pissed as HELL and I’m NOT taking it any more! Will drop you like a hot potato if you don’t grow some sebse!!!!!

    • Tayvl Hunt says:

      CBS depends on useful tools to not pay attention to what’s going on and demand that Time-Warner accede to their extortion. You folks just make it more expensive for all of us in the long run.

      Keep not paying attention….

  4. Marilou says:

    I’ve been a time warner customer for years, and have always had confidence in them. I have my phone computer and all the premium channels. I am really upset about not getting Showtime! I miss my episode of Dexter and Ray Donovan this past Sunday. How am I going to catch up with these programs. I am definitely considering dropping TWC. And what happens when Homeland series begins? I can’t miss that show!

    • Tayvl Hunt says:

      So you’ve decided to support CBS in what they’re doing. Not me. I’ll happily watch all those shows you mentioned somewhere else (as I’ve always done), and support Time-Warner by continuing to be a subscriber. I’m not going to punish future cable subscribers simply because I can’t wait to watch a particular show.

  5. Theresa Bowers says:

    This is all about greed and its always the middle class that suffers.i don’t blame TWC for playing hard ball to CBS’s outrageous demands for money but it always hurts the consumer. I am very upset with the President of CBS and will never watch CBS again! I will definitely miss Showtime though and it will take some getting used to not having but I can thank Les for that

  6. Don says:

    Gee, no Big Brother. I guess I can always do something constructive, like read a book.

  7. Goofy says:

    On my way to Verizon’s package. Bye bye TWC

  8. Valerie says:

    No worries, TWC! I cancelled your service today in favor of AT&T.

  9. Why don’t you guys get it together (CBS & TWC) and put everything BACK ON THE AIR. Thank you!!

  10. such====UTOPIA=NEWYORKCITY=AND CALIFORINA-SOCIALIST PROGRESSIVE=TV NETWORK.======HOW SWEET IT IS==YUCK.

  11. Lauren says:

    Who cares about CBS. I LOST DEXTER!

    • Sam Watson says:

      Exactly. The CBS Network doesn’t matter to me, but I’m paying for Showtime and I want to watch it. They offer Starz to everyone as a substitute but I already get Starz anyway and Starz doesn’t have Dexter.

    • Tayvl Hunt says:

      I know it’ll sound like sacrilege to some, but I like being able to get an entire Dexter season on disk when it comes out (Netflix) and not having to wait a week between episodes. As for waiting a year for the disks, if I don’t think about it, it doesn’t bother me at all…

      • Roger In Raleigh says:

        Tavyl, completely agree. I think Netflix ( streaming and disk ) does too. They are getting original programming ( and old programming ) and releasing it in bulk. I don’t want to wait a week. I might wait a week, but it is my choice when I do. I personally like the long story arc that spans 10-to-15 episodes, like basic cable and premium cable are providing.

  12. John Campbell says:

    Maybe it’s time for the people who use cable TV service to demand they get a choice that includes whose feeds they do and who they don’t want fed into their homes. Such a choice means the people actually get to vote instead of high priced packages for channels they don’t watch nor want.

    Another interesting point might be the leftist politics that often seems to be a major part of TV these days and getting it thrown in our faces via alleged news, movies, and other programming. The 2014 elections are coming up and the 2016 presidential race will soon follow. Take note on who spends their money where. Do cable subscribers want foot the bill for more leftist politics? I don’t think so.

  13. For those of you who want CBS back, no worries, when the NFL season begins and CBS loses all it’s income from advertisements, CBS will fold.

  14. Roger In Raleigh says:

    Time Warner Cable should charge “a la carte” for CBS, whatever price CBS wants to charge. Then let the cable subscriber decide if purchasing CBS as a standalone product is worth it. In fact, I would love a-la-carte pricing for every station. Then, I only pay for what I want to watch. I could see TWC charging a flat base fee to cover expenses of every channel being a la carte, for example, different billing system, new filtered menu option, more customer support calls, etc. I don’t watch a hundred channels, I watch 5 or 6. Then, I could decide, on a per-show or per-network basis, my costs.

  15. Pennies per day per VIEWER, not customer. The average household has 3 viewers. That’s an increase of $38.33 per year per household for CBS, um yeah I can do w/o.

  16. steve says:

    and no one noticed.

  17. Its gone from my Dish network too. Havent missed it in the least.

  18. Currently most of the TV shows I watch are on CBS. However, I can live without ANY show, it would be no different than the station cancelling the show. We will move on!

  19. Frank Reynolds says:

    Does anybody really care? In a world where everything is readily available on the internet, netflix, and other such means (maybe a friends HBO account) only people who don’t know any better still have use for cable.

    • Roger In Raleigh says:

      Frank, completely agree. So many options for new episodes of the shows people watch … iTunes , hulu plus , Netflix , on demand, hbo go, websites. If Time Warner Cable doesn’t adjust their business model ( for example , a la carte programming for every station ) , then people will simply stop paying them. One interesting note, I *used* to watch “Person of Interest” on CBS, but one episode was pre-empted by a basketball game, and scheduled to be shown in its entirety later that night at 1:15 am. The problem was … It didn’t start until 1:30 or 1:35 am. But my DVR started back at 1:15. So, I missed the episode’s conclusion. Here’s the kicker: CBS does not offer that show in any other manner! Not on Hulu, not on iTunes , not on the CBS website. There was no way to catch up on the serialized “Person of Interest”. So, I stopped watching the show, and now one less reason for me to care about CBS.

  20. normw says:

    well, this could be good news…1 down 3 or 4 to go…who watches mainstream media anymore anyway…were better off…

  21. EB says:

    So if their content becomes less watched, will CBS pay the money back? I will give it a few days and then cancel Time Warner. I’ll begin research on attuverse and direct tv tomorrow. My house has satellite dishes from the last owner. Not happy about bring played as a pawn in a negotiation between two HUGE companies fighting for more profits.

  22. hangtime79 says:

    I’m not 60 years old and don’t enjoy NCIS; therefore I am not a CBS viewer. I scanned through my season passes and not one belongs to a CBS show. As for football, I can get Sunday Ticket over the Internet (year for leaving on the bottom floor of a NYC apartment) and I subscribe to the sports pack with the NFL Network and Red Zone. I say good riddance CBS and thanks for the fish.

  23. stoptouchingthatmabel says:

    We should be able to select only the channels we want but we aren’t. That is something the congress could do to help out average Americans reduce the amount of their sky high cable bill. More than fifty percent of the channels we don’t want yet we are stuck with them. Let us pick what we want and pay just for those channels we select not what is forced on us. Oh and about CBS they suck, have a good day.

    • Roger In Raleigh says:

      Stoptouchingthatmabel, completely agree. I want a la carte programming per network. I want Time Warner Cable to charge me one up-front fee for the ability to have a la carte programming. Maybe $5 or $10. But then , charge me for each network that I choose in advance. Either charge a fixed price per channel, or better yet, charge me whatever the network is charging TWC, and let them pass that cost along to me. Then, in a true market economy, each network will get the real price for their product. I WOULD LOVE A LA CARTE PRICING.

    • Gunther says:

      I agree. We should be able to select a la carte. Pay for what we desire to watch. I don’t want to be forced to pay for leftist-liberal Democrat propaganda. That goes for CBS also.

    • no says:

      A better approach would be to eliminate the the regional monopolies. Declare eminent domain and allow anyone to install a cable line along any road or power line right of way.

      • Nick says:

        So you are saying that the government should steal the assets of the cable companies and give it to you for free? Even if we dismiss the moral and legal issues with this… How long till our illustrious government “fixes” the service so that cable TV is delivered with all of the quality of the DMV or IRS. We could also look forward to 500 channels of 24/7 government propaganda like PBS or CBS, ABC, NBC and of course MSNBC/CNN.

  24. Nickles Castellano says:

    CBS really provides an inferior product with the exception of Smithsonian Channel. Most of their “popular” shows highly rely on product placement and pimp every product prop they can. It’s sad. That’s why they need more money because the shows they produce can’t even pay for themselves! But what it really comes down to on both sides, is very well paid execs acting like children. Either way, the consumer pays, pays and pays more.

  25. Carlos Danger says:

    Why are Time Warner customers so lucky? This is why we need to pay only for the channels we actually want to watch and get rid of lousy ‘rate raisers’ like CBS.

  26. Bill Souder says:

    If you are a TW subscriber and you lost CBS you will not miss anything that’s worthwhile.

  27. Timothy says:

    No great loss.

  28. John C says:

    You mean to say CBS was off the air on Time-Warner, who knew and who cared.

  29. nona says:

    LOL and no one noticed it

  30. Ken wilkinson says:

    Great, no more Obama media. One down two to go.

  31. spasticjack says:

    GOOD..Now hopefully people will see just how little there was to watch.

  32. Tony says:

    What? CBS is still around? Who knew?

  33. Bob Oneil says:

    I could care less about CBS, but where are our troubled teens to go now, for tips on serial killing, without Dexter?

  34. Rich N says:

    Share value in Direct TV and Dish Network just climbed thu the roof. Direct TV loves these little programming spats.

    • Big Mama says:

      Except those of us on Dish that don’t have have it either…because of a different fight. It’s Netflix that’ll make out like a bandit.

  35. william says:

    I am so glad I dropped time warner years ago.
    The other providers have the same channels and more with much better service

  36. D Dub says:

    CBS, what channel is that?

  37. DJII says:

    I don’t get how these over the air broadcaster want to take advantage of free spectrum and ‘must carry’ rules, and then ALSO want to be treated like a cable channel with retransmission rights. Give up the spectrum so it can be used for 4G data.

    Again people can get this signal for free so why should cable and satellite customer pay 2 dollars plus a broadcast channel because they don’t want to hook up an antenna? If they are in the territory it shouldn’t matter. And it’s these same broadcasters that will fight and claw for other broadcast channels from other cities not to be in their ‘territory’ and then take advantage of special rules that broadcast channels have. Just another example of crony capitalism.

  38. JP says:

    Just have the government take-over both and problem solved. OBAMAVISION!!!!!!

  39. bruce the hood says:

    cbs news…….the viewers blacked them out voluntarily

  40. joe says:

    Nobody cares

  41. Good lord, you can watch online even though they have blocked it

    Learn how to set up a proxy on your browser
    http://www.hidemyass.com/software/proxy-browser-extension/

    Put a Free Anonymous Proxy on your system
    and just go back to watching CBS online.
    Just search for “FREE ANONYMOUS PROXY LIST”

    or look up webproxy…. put in the location you want to go to and bing, bang, boom… you are at cbs
    and can watch all the Big Bang theory you want

    Plus the evil NSA can’t track you properly because you show up at a different IP address.

    • Andy Griffin says:

      I’m not sure if my replies are going through but to cut to the chase: use tvmuse or btvguide to watch shows through Gorilla Vid or Vid Bull. No laggy, inconsistent proxy necessary. Java doesn’t work in most web proxies, specifically hidemyass.

    • Tayvl Hunt says:

      Now that’s what I call a public service announcement…

  42. Bev Taylor says:

    In a divorce, it’s always the kids who get hurt. I’m not sure which parent I’m gonna’ live with, yet.

  43. gowestamerica says:

    Screw both of them they don’t offer any valu anyway.

  44. rudebutcool says:

    Oh crap how am I gonna watch…er watch….er, oh never mind

  45. Bob Gaugh says:

    I’ve no love lost for either company. But CBS is part of the media/propaganda arm of the Maobama administration and the democratic party; the fewer people see their lies and the sewer programs that passes as “entertainment” the better

  46. CBS wants “fair compensation for the most-watched television network with the most popular content in the world”? The Clinton Broadcasting Service will never be forgiven by me for propping up the old pervert and polluting the minds of Americans with its propaganda and putrid content. Suck it, CBS.

  47. Jwalter says:

    Just get an antenna, its not that hard. If you are paying to get local channels you’re getting ripped off. I got a C2 and the picture quality was better than cable.

  48. Dave-0 says:

    So glad I switched to Verizon FIOS a few years back. TWC is pure evil.

  49. Michael says:

    CB who? They are largely irrelevant.

  50. Damn shame the couldn’t do it during football season.

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