As broadcast networks continue to ask for higher rates, we're continuing to see uglier and uglier fights between cable operators and broadcasters -- with consumers stuck in the middle. These fights have resulted in numerous content blackouts and have impacted more than 30 million pay-TV subscribers. As we've been covering, these paying customers are being intentionally put in the middle
to be used as negotiations weapons, getting service blackouts and higher rates regardless of which corporation "wins."
The latest fight is between Time Warner Cable and CBS, and may result in Time Warner Cable customers in eight major markets losing around thirteen CBS-owned stations. There is, however, one small wrinkle this time around.
Like in previous fights, users in our forums say
they are being blasted with ads putting them in the middle, demanding they call in and express their outrage at one side or the other. CBS is helped this go around with their potent radio presence in many of the markets, and a CBS website
says they're ready to pull the plug on Time Warner Cable by Wednesday at 5 PM if a deal can't be reached.
Time Warner Cable meanwhile in a blog post
insists that CBS is looking for retransmission fee hikes that are 600% more than what the company pays in other portions of their footprint. "CBS seems to have confused itself with the billing department at a hospital, where an aspirin costs $5 per pill," states company blogger Jeff Simmermon.
Time Warner Cable is of course blasting all of these customers with their own advertisements. "CBS is driving up the cost of cable TV — charging higher and higher prices for shows they give away for free online and over the air," says the Time Warner Cable ads. "It’s time to stand up and say no to broadcasters demanding unreasonable prices."
Except like in previous fights, the two sides will quietly agree to undisclosed terms and your cable bill will go up either way. While broadcasters hit you with programming hikes, cable operators fan their faces and pretend to be blameless while they pound you with higher rates for DVR rentals, modem rentals
, services, fees for paying a real person
, and pretty much everything and anything else. Both broadcasters and cable operators pay endless empty lip service
to smaller consumer bills, then use your outrage to their negotiation benefit.
However, in a new and interesting wrinkle in these kinds of fights, Time Warner Cable is saying that they'll wind up recommending Aereo to customers who can get it
if they lose traditional CBS content. The company is even insisting that they may point out that the $8 Aereo service offers a thirty-day free trial.