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. azfederalist says:

    Since it is CBS, will anybody even notice?

  2. Jorge Boosh says:

    Wow! The 2 or 300 hundred thousand a night that watch that must be devastated. There is a reason they call it television “programming”. Read.

  3. Steven Fiore says:

    For every reason you could hate a company, Time Warner Cable of New York is the absolute worst cable company ever. Their service stinks, they have more failures of equipment with employees that don’t give a dam. They are unintelligent and ignorant. In my upper middle class neighborhood almost everyday you see one Time Warner truck removing equipment, and three Verizon Fios trucks installing theirs, and that includes me. Time Warner lies about their service, and I’m surprised they aren’t sued for it, or maybe they are. In any event, I would rather stick hot needles in my eyes than ever buy Time Warner anything ever again!

  4. Micah Stone says:

    Kudos to Time Warner for standing up for their subscribers against the MASSIVE PRICE GOUGING by the corrupt socialist media with their leftist propaganda !

    Unlike Time Warner, the leftist rulers at Comcast – one of the MOST DESPICABLE LEFTIST MEDIA GROUPS IN AMERICA – gladly accept every price hike by their socialist media pals, add on a huge profit markup, then shove it up the %^&%&^%&^ of their customers.

  5. Pilot Dave says:

    I dropped the cable and TV almost 6 years ago. My now 17 year old son survived….

  6. Wade Ward says:

    Let me see if I’ve got this. CBS sends its signal out over the air. A cable company comes along, and says, we’ll send your signal to more people who would not get your over-the-air signal. And for that CBS wants the cable company to pay? It seems it is CBS who should be paying the cable companies for the service they provide. Because of the cable companies more people see CBS shows, which allows CBS to charge higher ad fees because more eyeballs see them. Am I the only one who sees that something is very wrong here?

    • Tayvl Hunt says:

      No, you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head. Except there is an argument to the effect that if you use someone’s copyrighted material for your own profit then you owe them. The solution would be for cable companies to not charge extra for local channels…

    • Pilot Dave says:

      Wade, you missed the part where T-W gets the feed via satellite with electronic queues for then the local stations are to inject their commercials, which T-W is happy to do so they collect the real money for advertising.

      Yeah, CBS is being taken advantage of…

  7. Phil says:

    i get all my news from the Internet and I don’t care much for local programs anyway.

  8. Tom P says:

    Looks like it may be the time for this long time TWC customer to switch to FIOS. It’s not a 600% increase by CBS, so TWC is lying, and they charge too much anyway.

  9. I have Time Warner Cable and the loss of CBS means nothing. I can get CBS on line if I must have it and I don’t need it. The days that ABC, NBC and CBS mattered are over.

  10. À la carte pricing- the only way to go. And the cable companies refuse to offer it. I hate to agree with John McCain on anything, but I do on this one.

  11. Horace Kent says:

    Time Warner is the one who needs to stop increasing fees on their subscribers. 3 bucks here, 5 bucks there and before you know it, you went from paying 120.00 to 150.00.

  12. Ben Dover says:

    That’s really going to piss off the 10 people left who still watch CBS.

  13. A bit offtopic, but this is just par for the course of spinning your wheels.

    The only way to get fair value in a monopolistic market is to not be in that market. From the consumer side, this means not buying cable, satellite, or any other paid service that rewards your payment with commercials robbing you of time and money. And that means the internet.

    These people are fighting over content because they think it matters. It doesn’t.

    Most people just want 3 channels and no commercials. They are paying you $150 a month, yet you still can’t do it. Others can. So when you are done flinging feces like monkeys, keep something in mind. Your customers made you and they can unmake you- not your shareholders. With whatever self-preservation it is that you possess, you should supply their demand.

  14. harry underwood says:

    time warner Austin is one of the sloppiest operations in business so it’s not surprising its national office makes the same crappy style of decisions. this is the last straw; TW and gouging me are history.

  15. Reverend Ken says:

    How much of this is because CBS actually reports real NEWS on a rare occasion?

  16. Tina Rocha says:

    If TWC dispatches ABC and NBC they’ll have hundreds of thousands of new customers with me one of them. Seriously.

  17. Horus says:

    What bothers me is that TWC won’t be reducing my bill by an appropriate amount for the reduced content of their service. As usual, it’s “we are fighting to keep your rates down” and never a case of them making a little less. Always the consumer that takes the hit. Meanwhile, less programming for the same rate.

    I will be watching closely in the next week. I will switch to a satellite server if I don’t get CBS and NBC back.

    • LarsQ says:

      Horus, FYI: Cable companies are required by the FCC to carry all local broadcast stations by law. Therefore, CBS has to take themselves off the cable system. TWC cannot do this without CBS’s consent. If TWC caves to CBS’s demands for a per subscriber fee, then other broadcasters will ask for the same fee. Your monthly cable rates will go up quite a bit as a result. Understandably, CBS is trying to compensate for sagging advertising revenues by picking up subscriber fees. This is happening to all broadcasters as a result of competition from Internet entertainment, video games, etc… Unfortunately, we are all going to pay more for television in the future. Wait til the NFL goes purely pay per view… it’s coming.

  18. ttrif says:

    Shut out CBS for awhile and viewers will realise what carp it was to start with
    and how stupid it thinks viewers are. CBS will start to fade faster than the liberal biased
    drivel it brodcasts now.

  19. Trail_Boss says:

    Good by and good riddance. Who the hell cares and who the hell needs them anyway. There is no reason in this day and age we should have to buy a hundred channels we don’t watch. We should be able to purchase each channel separately. A dollar per channel a month sounds good to me. But seriously what do these people do for America anyway? Other then waste people’s time on earth watching what amounts to nothing. Most of the PROGRAMING is poisonous Its called programing for good reason… its the viewers being programed. GOOD BY AND GOOD RIDDANCE CBS…. you wont be missed.

  20. guammike says:

    I haven’t seen CBS since Dan Rather was busy making up “the news” there. I didn’t even know the network was still around but to me this just accentuates the need for a’ la carte cable/satellite programming. If CBS wants to charge more for viewers to access their network that seems fair but by the same token if I don’t want CBS or NBC, I shouldn’t be forced to pay for them because of mandatory package bundling.

  21. MoreFreedom says:

    I don’t have any sympathy for either TW or CBS. Both get permission/licenses to be part of a government supported cartel, and TW/CBS/governments all profit at citizens’ expense. If we had a freer market in cable providers and news corporations, we’d have a superior product and lower costs.

    At least the licensed news media is getting competition from the internet (also delivered via government created cartels). And it shows in their stock prices, market share and better news on the internet. Especially news of made up stories in the MSM.

    Unfortunately they can still harm consumers via their government bought license/cartel/monopoly, and do. More competition and less government would be a good start.

    My guess as to who is to blame, is that it is mostly CBS. CBS has lost market share, thus for TW it will get less ad revenue with CBS in its lineup. TW will also likely have more subscribers with a more popular lineup. This assumes TW gets the ad revenue, but TW and its vendors may have ad revenue sharing agreements.

  22. TMI Age says:

    What’s the big deal, read a book for entertainment.

  23. twinstick says:

    I don’t know. Is it time for the FCC to get involved???

  24. Mary Johnson says:

    should have dropped nbc

  25. franklin moore says:

    Good time to buy a over-the-air, HD for free, antenna.
    Screw your cable company right back by cutting back on the cord.
    But keep the high-speed internet. You’ll need that.

  26. JB says:

    Since CBS offered to keep the same rate going throughout the negotiation, it is TWC who is using me and every other subscriber like a chess pawn by cutting off our access.

  27. Jack Colt says:

    This is great, capitalism at its best…seriously. Two large companies cannot agree on a price and there is no deal. CBS is just a tetch shy of being a public utility so no one can claim their absence hurts the public good. I am on Optimum and we still have CBS but should the same dispute occur I would not complain to Optimum. The TV networks rape the public; oil companies do that and they are evil yet no one seems to mind the destruction the networks rain. I hope T-W holds on…and, Optimum, should you become involved in this dispute, I support your cutting CBS

  28. aswmbo says:

    I agree with the statement made that cable companies don’t create content…but what they do is build the infrastructure (cable lines, transmitters, etc) that allow folks in areas where signals are weak or non-existent to access content otherwise unavailable.
    That said, I agree with CBS’s position that quality programming deserves appropriate compensation. TW will just pass the extra cost on their subscribers anyway… :(

    • azfederalist says:

      “I agree with CBS’s position that quality programming deserves appropriate compensation. ”

      Now, if CBS were to actually offer quality programming, they might have a case. Aside from the one or two news stories from Sheryl Atkinson every once in a while, it appears that the people carrying CBS deserve compensation FROM CBS if that is their argument.

  29. Tim says:

    TWC is the worst! Dropped them two years ago…best thing I ever did!

    • Tayvl Hunt says:

      Two years ago you might have a point. A lot has changed since then. One thing that’s changed is that you can lie in bed with your iPad or Android tablet now and watch On Demand of nearly anything they have. Don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had to record anything…

  30. Chris says:

    TWC has always been douche bags. Famous for “Your total bill will be $70” and then when it shows in the mail it is $130…….. You have to demand the entire total cost of the bill before signing up or you will get a surprise. Craptastic company that overcharges, no surprise here in Monopoly USA.

  31. kristy says:

    TW is right, I can watch CBS online or for free on the air, why would I need to subscribe to their service for something I already get free? TV viewing is changing with the internet. Cable companies need to evolve or become extinct. We dropped cable a year ago for hulu and Netflix and we haven’t missed cable a bit.

  32. Mac says:

    Cable companies are parasites, they don’t invest or create content, they retransmit others product and make money off it, when the cost of creating that content increases, cable companies refuse to compensate them. Cable compaines also sell advertisment to run during primetime network programming and charge advertisers based on that Networks content, cable is not a ‘service’ its a parasite. Cut the cable, cut your cost.

  33. Mac says:

    Had TW mentioned refunding its subscribers for the ‘CBS trans fee’ they’re being charged and No longer receiving the CBS programming?

  34. johnl says:

    If the channel has commercials, it should no cost anything! Commercials are suppose to pay for content!

    Yes, I too cut the cable! Yes, I miss the 2 channels that I liked. If enough people do it, the providers will get a reality check and cable will become ala cart, as it should be.

  35. Doug Lynn says:

    I agree with Time Warner. The entertainment industry is too greedy. My pay TV is limited to NetFlix. Paying $50 to $100 for TV is way too much for my budget. Where is the Left when it comes to talking about the greed of Hollywood. Why are commercial revenues not enough for them?

  36. JeffG says:

    Do what I did: I hooked up over the air HD antennae and gave up cable except for internet. Lowered my cable bill by much more. I get the very basic channels but still have internet access on my PC. Watching HBO and the other pay channels are really useless due to constant reruns. You can always add ROKU or watch Netflix.

    I think TWC is smart with CBS as CBS will try to increase charges wherever and whenever they can. TWC by cutting off CBS you have dropped CBS’ station revenue in those cities by a heavy amount and you should make sure that the other stations broadcast it.

  37. Reed says:

    Looks fine on my antenna. Cut the cable months ago. Have not regretted it. Internet + antenna gives me plenty of choices.

  38. Andrew Forest says:

    Simple solution……………………DROP Time Warner Cable, go back to rabbit ears.

  39. Ford says:

    Both you guys suck. Greedy bastards.

  40. James says:

    I am torn. I enjoy Showtimes seried but they have the worst movie selection on cable so not sure worth the cost. Then again TWC provides horrible customer service and most people I know hate them. But for the outragous premium price they charge for Showtime alone they can afford these prices. Maybe time to go to Fios and tell TWC stick up there greedy ass. Then wait for the series I like to come on netflix and tell showtime kiss my ass. Either of these companies saying they provide a premier service is a joke.

  41. Unhappy customer says:

    I don’t buy your con job twc , this whole problem is YOU!!!!!!!!!! Your executives are fat and greedy suckling off your poor customers spending our money for personal vacations and ridiculous raises. No wool over these eyes. Give our channels back and pay your share as our utility provider. If not you lose me!!!!

  42. stephanie says:

    Greed on all parties..monopolies. The only thing we can do is go online. So credit Showtime subscribers but not the “package”. So TWC keeps the same price but we get less. Humm

  43. Chris says:

    Enough is enough. Goodbye TWC. Hello Verizon.

  44. Robert II says:

    Time Warner will cave before CBS. CBS is the only network with the power to make or break TWC or any other cable/satellite company. That’s the power of having dozens of hit series, NFL football, and a vast array of hugely popular specials and sporting events.

    • Javert says:

      TWC will not reduce my bill without CBS. The also charge me for about a dozen foreign language stations that I don’t want. Pretty soon it’ll be adios to Time Warner.

      • Tayvl Hunt says:

        Reduce your bill by what, 3 cents? Is that all you’ve got to complain about? They add channels all the time and don’t increase your bill….

  45. Tanya says:

    Brighthouse just lost us as customers. Screw CBS and TWC…

  46. Andy Griffin says:

    And now cbs.com has blocked anyone with road runner as their ISP. Every attempt to watch something is redirected to a video labeled “Time Warner Cable Customers: Content Not Available.” The URL is blocked and now I am extremely annoyed with CBS.

  47. eileen says:

    This is a outrage!!! What are we going to have left nothing but you don’t give a s—!!!! You are going to lose soooo many customers I hope you are ready for the ball to drop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. A Polsley says:

    Going dark in Dallas, New York and LA was a gusty move. These locations are TWCs major customers. I’ll give it 3 weeks maximum before they cave.

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