While Time Warner tells us customers will see refunds...
This morning we noted
how a feud between Time Warner Cable and Viacom could result in Time Warner Cable and BrightHouse customers losing Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and 16 other channels. The fight has gotten consistently more ugly as the day has progressed, with Viacom blasting the screens of both BrightHouse and TWC customers warning them that not only will customers lose access to Viacom channels on cable, but that they'll lose access to online
It's not exactly clear how Viacom plans to seriously enforce that threat. There's a multitude
of broadband-delivery alternatives
for customers who need their Daily Show
or South Park
fix, and it's obviously highly unlikely Viacom could or would ban Roadrunner and Bright House IPs from accessing them.
Time Warner Cable seems to be taking the threat seriously, Twittering
that they internally believe Viacom will attempt to "block our customers from the same full Web experience that they provide everyone else for free." "They're going to take all their video content off the Web and ruin it for everybody," insists the company. The company repeated this sentiment when we contacted them for comment.
"They can block IP addresses, or ranges of IP addresses," insists a Time Warner Cable spokesman. "Of course, we are talking about a company that prepares a multimillion dollar media blitz to hammer us publicly while claiming to negotiate in 'good faith,'" he says. "So who knows what they're prepared to pull."
Given purging the Internet of Viacom content is technically difficult if not impossible (especially considering piracy
), the threat is likely a scare tactic being used by the company to get additional customer call volume sent in Time Warner Cable's direction. Viacom probably knows that if customers know they can get content online, for free -- it weakens negotiations (Time Warner says they want rate increases of between 22 percent and 36 percent per channel).
Viacom is also running ads
alerting customers of the dispute. The American Cable Association is firing back via press release
, calling the channel crawlers and other alerts "the most foolish and inflammatory message(s) we have seen to date." Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable spokesman Jeff Simmermon tells us that whatever happens, customers will automatically be seeing refunds applied to their bills.