Time Warner Cable and CBS's retransmission fee dispute has very clearly hit an impasse, resulting in millions of Time Warner Cable customers losing CBS stations in the New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Denver and Pittsburgh markets. Taking things a step further, CBS has blocked Time Warner Cable customers from also being able to access CBS content over the Internet.
"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," Time Warner Cable said in a statement. "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."
In their own statement, CBS claims 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 percent increase CBS supposedly demanded — while maintaining antiquated positions no longer held by any other programming distributor in the business."
Time Warner Cable clearly felt it was a good time to blackout CBS stations ahead of the NFL season, which puts greater pressure on both companies. Amusingly, we've seen politicians who couldn't care less about this market jump into the fray during NFL season
simply to win constituent brownie points. That interest results in more political discussions about new regulatory restrictions prohibiting such blackouts, which is why Time Warner Cable's striking now while CBS's Under the Dome
will be the biggest casualty.
On one hand, CBS is greedily demanding double what Time Warner Cable pays for programming. On the other hand, Time Warner Cable pays endless empty lip service toward lower rates, socking customers relentlessly on numerous other fronts including soaring modem rental fees
and higher costs for broadband and DVR services. As with all of these retransmission feuds, customers can enjoy bickering, being used as leverage, and content blackouts -- before these disputes are resolved, secret deals get reached, and their bills wind up skyrocketing anyway.
In short, you lose no matter who "wins."