The latest battle between a TV network and a cable provider has once again put the consumer smack dab in the middle. CBS and Time Warner Cable have been talking, sparring and haggling over the network's proposed cost per subsriber. Time Warner has been paying under a $1 per subscriber. CBS wants to increase it to $2. Just before midnight on Thursday, the two sides agreed to a temporary extension that sets July 29 at 5 p.m. ET to get a deal done. Had the extension not been agreed upon, Time Warner Cable would have pulled the network off its systems at 6 a.m. today.
Not only does this effect CBS and its owned-and-operated affliates in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles, but it also puts CBS Sports Network and Showtime in jeopardy of being pulled. Time Warner serves customers in 29 states. In addition, Time Warner controls Bright House cable in Florida and a CW affiliate in Tampa, owned by CBS could be pulled as well.
If CBS is pulled in the aforementioned cities and the dispute drags into August and September, it could affect sports programming such as college football, the NFL, PGA Championship and the U.S. Open. And we know sports fans are militant about the possibility of missing games. Now in cities such as Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and others where CBS stations are owned by other companies, those affiliates would not be pulled, however, the cable networks would be affected. Got it? Yes, it can be confusing, but it's also frustrating.
When cable providers and networks fight over costs and channels go dark, the consumers lose. They can't watch their channels and are forced to find alternatives to watching their favorite programs.
Back in October 2010, Cablevision and Fox had a two week standoff that led to the Fox-owned stations in New York and Philadelphia getting pulled. Giants and Eagles fans were unable to watch games on Cablevision and the National League Championship Series was pre-empted thanks to the dispute. Both sides finally came to an agreement, but Cablevision issued a harsh statement unhappy with the terms.
Time Warner is suggesting subscribers find other ways to watch the CBS Television Network if the company pulls the signal. However, no viewer wants to go through the extra trouble and cost of buying rabbit ears or finding illegal websites that stream games.
These disputes are silly and it leaves cable customers disillusioned. Hopefully, CBS and Time Warner can come to an agreement before the new deadline. However, it the dispute rages past July 29, there will be a lot of angry subscribers wanting an explanation. Stay tuned.