If you're a Time Warner Cable subscriber and you've been watching CBS lately, you may have seen warnings that carriage disputes might result in Time Warner dropping CBS from its line-up. It happened today, effective 5:00 p.m. EST. Not only are Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and other markets currently going without CBS, but Showtime, which is owned by CBS, has also been shut down by the cable service provider as negotiations continue. And from what Showtime says, the decision to pull the channel was on TWC's end, as the cable service allegedly opted to pull Showtime despite the network's authorization to allow carriage while they continued the negotiations.
Showtime and CBS issued separate statements on the blackout. As Showtime put it:
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. Major markets affected include New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, Tampa, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, San Diego, Columbus, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Austin and Detroit, among many others.
CBS' announcement notes that this is the first time in history that CBS has been dropped from a cable system, and says TWC's negotiations tactics have been combative and non-productive:
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. CBS, for its part, is eager to make an agreement in line with the kind it has struck with every other cable, satellite and telco provider, and has continually sought reasonable term extensions to get that job done.
But that's there side of things. EW shared a statement issued by Time Warner Cable thanking their subscribers for their patience:
“We agreed to an extension on Tuesday morning with the expectation that we would engage in a meaningful negotiation with CBS. 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. We thank our customers for their patience and support as we continue to fight hard to keep their prices down.”
Of course, it's much easier to be patient on Friday night, but we'll see how TWC customers feel on Sunday when new episodes of Big Brother, Dexter and Ray Donovan are airing. Hopefully TWC and CBS/Showtime get things worked out soon.