September 2, 2013

Time Warner reaches deal with CBS

The agreement puts programming back on the air in major markets just in time for NFL season.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - TV network CBS and cable provider Time Warner Cable ended their monthlong programming dispute on Monday and resumed broadcasts to millions of homes in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles.

The agreement ended a blackout of CBS and CBS-owned channels that included Showtime Network and CBS Sports Network. The contract disagreement started Aug. 2 and affected more than 3 million homes. Broadcasting resumed Monday evening on the East Coast.

The companies were in dispute over how much Time Warner Cable Inc. would pay for CBS Corp. programming. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.

The agreement includes retransmission fees the cable operator pays to CBS per subscriber, which had been a sticking point.

The disagreement came at a touchy time for networks and cable companies as more and more Americans are turning to alternative ways to watch TV including online or via Roku boxes or Apple TV. Added pressure was on the two companies to reach an agreement since the start of football season and the U.S Open tennis tournament had begun in New York.

The blackout affected about 1.1 million of New York's 7.4 million television households that get CBS. An estimated 1.3 million of 5.6 million households in Los Angeles were blacked out, along with 400,000 of Dallas' 2.6 million TV homes, CBS said. Those are three of the nation's five most populous television markets.

CBS estimated the blackout cut the network's national viewership by about 1 percent.

The talks were being closely watched beyond these companies and their customers because of the idea that a retransmission agreement would set a precedent for future negotiations between networks and cable or satellite companies. Another point of contention was the cable operator's access to CBS material for on-demand or mobile device viewing.

"While we certainly didn't get everything we wanted, ultimately we ended up in a much better place than when we started," Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said in a statement.

Mignon L. Clyburn, acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, issued a statement saying she was "pleased CBS and Time Warner Cable have resolved their retransmission consent negotiations, which for too long have deprived millions of consumers of access to CBS programming."

In the end, she added, media companies should "accept shared responsibility" for putting their audiences' interests above other interests.

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