Tuesday, August 6, 2013
CBS blasts Time Warner’s “empty gesture” to end blackout
OK OK OK: So when does CBS come back on TV for Time Warner subscribers?
If, after yesterday, you thought there was any chance of KTVT-Channel 11 or Showtime or any other CBS property being offered separately over Time Warner Cable, you were wrong. In a letter CBS President and CEO Les Moonves just sent to Time Warner honcho Glenn Britt, four days after the two media giants broke up and blacked out, Moonves sneered at Britt’s “groundbreaking ‘offer’ to go a la carte” and called it nothing more than “an empty gesture.”
Writes Moonves, “In fact, if you thought it was a good idea, why aren’t you offering your new, multi-billion-dollar Lakers and Dodgers channels to your subscribers in Los Angeles on an a la carte basis? Instead, your subscribers in Los Angeles are already being charged in the neighborhood of $4.00 for the Lakers and likely more than that for the Dodgers –- both of which you have pulled off broadcast television entirely. These charges are added to the cost of your customers’ basic monthly bill whether they want them or not. At the same time, you find it impossible to pay far, far less than that for the network that brings your viewers the NFL, the PGA Championship, the Masters, the NCAA Basketball tournament, SEC Football, plus 60 Minutes, NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, Under the Dome, David Letterman, the Grammys, and so much more.”
So, let’s summarize: CBS wants Time Warner Cable to pay more for the right to carry its programming; after all, says Moonves, everyone else already is. But Time Warner Cable doesn’t want to fork out the extra dough, insisting it’s not fair to its subscribers, who, according to several readers and TWC customers, were recently hit with a fee hike. So some 3.2 million viewers in Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and New York City — home to CBS owned-and-operated stations, including KTVT here — go without their local news and sports, including, more than likely, Friday night’s Dallas Cowboys-Oakland Raiders game scheduled to air on Channel 11 and Friday night’s Texas Rangers-Houston Astros game on KTXA-Channel 21.
Meanwhile, reader complaints continue to fill the in-box with each successive post about this battle of the dinosaurs, in the parlance of Los Angeles Times TV critic Robert Lloyd this morning. Some miss their Dexter; others wonder when the government will get involved in what one downtown-Dallas-residing letter-writer calls a public-safety issue that has deprived him of news and weather and other possible need-to-knows. Writes one reader, “The FCC provides free public airwaves to the networks, and this is how they repay us?”
Apparently so, as CBS, the unblinking Eye, isn’t about to start now.
“What you are asking for, pure and simple, is either to gain the right to deliver content for free that others are paying for, or to inhibit CBS from licensing content to existing online competitors and new companies that are now emerging,” Moonves writes Britt. “I can understand why you might want to preserve your dominance in that venue, but bullying us into becoming your accomplice in that effort doesn’t seem fair. Again, what we are seeking with you is nothing more — or less — than a rights and conditions package that every other cable, satellite and telephone company has agreed to.”
His whole letter follows.