Time Warner Suggests A La Carte to Angry CBS

cbs, time warner cable, a la carteCBS was not happy with the portrayed olive branch extended by Time Warner Cable today. Chief Executive of TWC Glenn Britt wrote a letter to CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves stating the cable company would be willing to offer CBS on an “a la carte basis” to its subscribers and allowing consumers to choose if they wished to pay more for the channel. This back-handed make-up letter only angered executives at the network.

In proposing this suggestion, CBS would become a premium channel to subscribers, much like HBO, a move that would also anger customers. Britt stated in the letter, “This way, rather than our debating the point, we would allow customers to decide for themselves how much value they ascribe to CBS programming.”

Britt showed confidence in delivering a letter to its angry bedfellow by further writing, “Regardless of the other issues between us, it is surely beyond the pale for you to subject these Internet customer to blocking of content that is made available for free to all others,” Britt wrote. “This is especially so given that CBS uses free public airwaves to broadcast that content and has public interest obligations that it is plainly flouting.”

Earlier today many awaited the word from CBS, who did respond, calling the offer a “sham.” In addition, the statement from one the largest networks responded cattily: “Today’s so-called proposal is a sham, a public relations vehicle designed to distract from the fact that Time Warner Cable is not negotiating in good faith. Anyone familiar with the entertainment business knows that the economics and structure of the cable industry doesn’t work that way and isn’t likely to for quite some time. In short, this was an empty gesture from a company that is expert at them.”

Burn and ouch! The companies failed to come to an agreement last Friday in regards to a new retransmissions contract. The contract is reviewed every few years which determines how much money cable providers pay station owners for their signal rights. The channels that went dark for millions of subscribers included Showtime, TMC, FLIX and Smithsonian. In further aggression, CBS slammed the off button for TWC subscribers streaming on CBS.com.

Hey customers feeling a bit like the child in between a nasty divorce yet? What both of these monetary giants fail to understand is their line-up is not as tempting as Dish, which also garners millions of fans due to the extensive sports channels, but further yet streaming television. Roku, Apple TV and Google Chromecast are giggling behind their backs, by welcoming angry consumers with big smiles and a footrub.

The level of unreasoning will speak to consumers in volumes as they look to other providers, Dish or to leave cable behind altogether for more Internet volume to access streaming television. While TWC aimed to reach CBS, the offer presented was not only insulting to the network, it was further insulting to the millions of subscribers who feel overcharged. Instead of understanding the dynamic of change on television and choice, CBS and TWC bowed out. The longer they wait to compromise only affects the loss of subscribers and viewership from consumers.

Angelina Bouc

Sources 1, 2

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