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Turner Nets Go Dark on Washington Post Co.’s Cable One, While Verizon FiOS Renews Pact

Programmer's blackout on Cable One in contract fight is first in its history

About 600,000 customers of Washington Post Co.-owned Cable One lost access to Turner Broadcasting System’s cable channels Tuesday — which the programmer said is the first blackout in its history — after the companies could not reach a deal on carriage fees.

Separately, Turner on Wednesday announced an expanded distribution deal with Verizon giving FiOS TV customers access to programming across a variety of screens, including TV, PC, tablet and handheld devices.

Cable One removed six Turner channels Tuesday at 9 a.m. Mountain after the previous carriage deal expired for CNN, CNN en Espanol, Headline News, Turner Classic Movies, TruTV and Boomerang. Subsequently, Turner ordered the cable operator to remove TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network from its systems; according to Cable One, the MSO still has a valid contract to continue carriage of those three channels.

“Turner has chosen to punish our customers by deauthorizing the signals for these channels so that they will no longer receive them,” a Cable One rep said in a statement. “We believe that they have deauthorized these channels in retaliation for us dropping their less popular programming.”

Cable One, which has close to 600,000 video customers across 19 states, said it will credit customers for the loss of Turner programming on their next billing statements.

In a statement, Turner said, “Despite our best efforts, we were unable to reach an agreement with Cable One for our portfolio of leading networks, including TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, HLN, truTV and TCM…. We are simply asking that Cable One pay the established and accepted rates already in the marketplace for our portfolio and remain willing to discuss a new agreement that recognizes the strength and value of our networks and the popular programming they offer.”

Turner’s deal with Verizon — which has more than 5 million FiOS TV customers nationwide — expands on-demand programming available to subs and provides live streaming of all major Turner networks that can be viewed in and out of the home across multiple devices.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Verizon is paying a higher rate to Turner under the renewed agreement. On Time Warner’s second quarter earnings call in August, execs said Turner revenue should see double-digit compound annual growth from 2013 to 2016 and the cable group seeks higher carriage fees from cable, satellite and telco TV operators.

For Verizon customers, the activation of various aspects of the TV Everywhere rights will happen in stages, with some taking place in the fourth quarter of 2013 and some in the first half of 2014, according to Verizon. The TVE content is available to customers with both FiOS TV and FiOS Internet service.

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