Time Warner Cable CEO: We Are Willing to Offer CBS to Customers A La Carte

Glenn Britt TIme Warner
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Operator says it would agree to pay more in retrans fees but without digital rights to CBS content, according to Britt letter

In Time Warner Cable’s latest negotiating ploy in its standoff with CBS, CEO Glenn Britt said in a letter Monday to CBS topper Les Moonves that the cable company would be willing to offer the Eye’s local stations on an a la carte basis — an obvious PR tactic, given that CBS clearly would reject such an arrangement.

Asked for a response, a CBS rep said it had “received Mr. Britt’s ‘offer’ simultaneous with its release to the media. We are formulating our response.”

Time Warner Cable customers in New York, L.A. and Dallas have been blacked out from CBS stations since last Friday, after the companies failed to reach an agreement on a new retransmission deal.

Britt, in the letter to Moonves distributed to media outlets Monday, said the No. 2 U.S. cable operator would immediately restore the CBS stations “with the new economics TWC reluctantly agreed to during our negotiations” but preserving other terms of their previous contract. That would leave Time Warner Cable without “the digital rights that CBS has provided to others,” the letter said. According to a source close to the MSO, those would include video-on-demand and TV Everywhere rights to CBS and Showtime programming.

SEE ALSO: CBS Blackout Could Be Costing It $400,000 per Day: Analysts

The missive did not specify the terms of the “new economics.” According to industry analysts CBS is asking for $2 per subscriber per month for carriage of its owned-and-operated stations in those markets, up from $1 or less currently.

Alternatively, if CBS is unwilling to accept those terms, Britt said in the letter, “we would also be willing to resume carriage by allowing CBS to make stations available on an a la carte basis at a price and on terms terms of its choosing, with 100% of that price remitted to CBS.”

By providing CBS stations a la carte, “we would allow customers to decide for themselves how much value they ascribe to CBS programming,” Britt wrote.

On Friday at 5 p.m. Eastern, Time Warner Cable pulled CBS signals for approximately 3 million subscribers, primarily in New York, L.A. and Dallas. The operator also dropped Showtime and three other CBS-owned cablers, while the Eye retaliated by blocking Time Warner Cable broadband subs from accessing full episodes online.

Britt, in the letter Monday, said that regardless of CBS’s decision on how to proceed, the Eye should stop blocking CBS.com content to the cable company’s high-speed Internet users.

“Regardless of the other issues between us, it is surely beyond the pale for you to subject these Internet customers to blocking of that is made free to all others,” the Time Warner Cable honcho wrote.

The CBS Internet blockade not only punishes MSO’s customers in the affected markets but also Time Warner Cable broadband subs nationwide as well as those of the operator’s wholesale Internet service provider customers, according to Britt.

SEE ALSO: CBS Stations, Showtime Go Dark for Time Warner Cable Customers

During the dispute — the first extended blackout of CBS-owned stations on a pay TV provider in nearly a decade — Time Warner Cable has said it was looking at the possibility of selling CBS’s channel 2 position to the highest bidder, in another attempt to gain leverage. CBS responded that it would not agree to any deal that would force it to “give up our channel position or any other asset by which our viewers identify us.”

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  1. eqquesz says:

    TV and Cable networks need to be committed to WARD OF THE STATE operations; the pay that normally would go to executives will solve all the tax burdens. Give executive jobs to rubber-stamping monkeys.

  2. Sparky says:

    Thanks Joe Smart…good name for you. He does need to do his research as you and I both did.
    Time Warner you can actually call and talk to some directly about what is going on.

    They will tell you NBC won’t….calling TW a liar because they did not want people to know they asked for a 200% increase on TV is unethical, inappropriate and unprofessional, when they are asking for a 200% increase in fees and they get the shows for free. They stated do not listen to the rumors and they were only asking for 1cent per person…but they did not say what that 1 cent was for, a second, minute, hour, how many tv’s you have nothing.

    Time Warner has great bundles..and prices. They do not charge for housecalls…they have great customer service and tech support.
    Dish, Direct TV, ATT…all charge you and or have contracts , TW does not. I believe that other networks will pick up the shows quickly if they do not negotiate quickly….All other providers of TV service are doing the same thing…they all have to negotiate contracts, if you think changing to another service is the answer it is not.

    Ask anyone who has dish, direct tv, att and see how they like the amt of their bill and the foreign customer service you cannot even understand.
    I will stay loyal as I have to TW for the next 25 yrs as I have for the last.

  3. OprahWinreyahsabighairysack says:

    Other than the NFL and Golf everything on CBS is pure garbage. Moonves needs to reimburse the TW Subscribers for the horrible programming that currently pollutes his network. And I miss Showtime, I’d go an extra $1 for that Network…

    • Sparky says:

      Yea I would too….but they will figure this out or other networks will take on the games…watch and see, I have seen bigger companies than Journal Broadcast fall because their britches got too big.
      :)

  4. Sparky says:

    oh btw did you notice that they only way you can leave comments to NBC is on facebook or twitter?? If they opened up comments on emails alone, they don’t want the feedback doesn’t that tell you something?? Time Warner you can call in and talk to someone directly about what is going on….can you do that with NBC NOPE NOT A CHANCE……TW’s integrity, character, honesty and works for their consumer not just for money…NBC only wants more money, they don’t care about you or at this time of High Terror threats they would put their stations back on air. I hope nothing happens but if it does…I hope this country of the people, by the people for the people finds a good attorney for a class action lawsuit against them for failure to protect the people. With NBC it is all about money….

  5. FrankM says:

    Hopefully Britt will stand behind his suggestion and usher in an era of a la carte. Saying “it is not done that way” is a foolish statement. Change has to start somewhere.

    I don’t think he should back down from this position. “Hey Leslie, you didn’t accept our bundle price, you don’t want a la carte where customers know the true cost of a service, so if you don’t accept either of them, we are going to start handing out refunds and antennas to our subscribers.”

  6. sandra says:

    Dish Network is also “blocked” from CBS transmission as well as FOX (at least in Toledo OH area) maybe these 2 giant providers can team up on CBS!

  7. Bj Ward says:

    Why can’t you leave things alone! You have so much money Mr. Britt, and what you want more, I’m so sick of people like you who are so darn greedy, give me more, give me more, that’s all you want. Leave our TV. Stations alone, that’s all some people have. A lot if people can’t afford cable.

    • Sparky says:

      It is not TW who has the money here, Journal broadcasting group is the largest broadcasting network in the world…they are the ones who took NBC off the air NOT TW…do your research.
      NBC wants a 200% increase on shows they do not get charged for. Dont believe me, go but an aerial antenna and see if you get NBC back on your TV you bet you will….
      TW is one of the best companies out there and awesome with CS….their techs are always awesome and you rarely ever get someone who does not speak English…My parents have ATT and they are high risk for health issues and were without phone service for 3 days….I called and spent over 6 hours on the phone with them to no avail. This does not happen with TW, it would have been fixed the same day because of their high health risk.

      Do your research people it is NBC Not TW…..and CBS local affiliates are fine here in Milwaukee…they have a contract in place…and if you decide to change, then do it, find out exactly how bad satellite, dish, direct tv, att really are…..Customer service sucks and if you do not want to water proof your satellite well then ………….do your research this happens to all TV providers and if you think it doesn’t TW is the only one you do not need to sign a contract with nor do you get charged for them coming out to your home. Think about it, and do your dang research idiots….

  8. Joe Smart says:

    I’m not sure why CBS would reject the offer of a-la-carte transmission fees. If they really think their programming is worth 2.00 a month to cable consumers then they should end up with all of the money they expect. At least this way consumers actually know what they are paying their money for and actually have a choice of whether or not to pay it. Sounds like a good deal to me.

    • Really? says:

      Are you guys serious?
      If TWC is willing to take the $3+ off my bill (which won’t happen; it will be under some ‘other’ fee) then fine. Subscribers can choose to spend $2 (or whatever they set) to add it back on.
      But this leads TWC down a very shadowy path. If you think TWC is only charging the $1 fee they were getting charged by CBS, you really have no clue.
      If I buy an apple from the farmer, I’m going to sell it for at my store for at least $1.25 (& I’m LOW-BALLING to make a point). Cable fees in general are OUTRAGEOUS. CBS & TWC are both at fault because BOTH are monster entities making hands over fist over ALL OF US. I don’t feel sorry for either one of them because WE (that includes me) are the only ones that lose in the end.

      Oh & for those of you who think TWC really wants CBS to accept their offer… do your research on the millions of $$$ all cablers are fighting to keep their RIGHT to bundle content instead of letting every subscriber pick want channels (if any) they want. All Cablers have said, “NO WAY!” to ending the bundle, THAT’S HOW THEY MAKE THEIR $$$$!!! If you could just pick FOX & the NFL network, how much $ would you save a month? But that’s not how it is & that’s how it’s going to say for quite some time.

      • Joe Smart says:

        I think you’re the one who needs to do his research. The cable companies do not make money by being forced to carry channels that nobody wants to watch. They are not the ones fighting tooth and nail against bundling–media companies are. Bundling benefits Disney which owns ESPN, which is not only the single most expensive non-premium channel on cable by far but also the cable channel that most subscribers would dump first if given a choice through bundling. It benefits Viacom which owns a whopping 18 different cable channels, most or none of which you likely ever watch. Most cable subscribers pay over one hundred dollars a month and end up regularly watching less than 10 channels. Bundling would benefit cable operators because it would make their services much more affordable, which would mean more subscribers. Cable would still be able to charge the same fees for its service that it does now and would make the same amount of money or more if bundling were put in place. Media companies that create all those channels that nobody watches but make you pay for them anyway–those are the people who would lose.

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