Earlier this week negotiations between CBS and Time Warner Cable broke down and for a few minutes, channels started dropping from the cable service. An extension on the deadline brought channels back quickly, but time is up once again and subscribers are being greeted by the message above. The blackout applies to CBS in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas, plus Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix and Smithsonian Channel nationwide. According to CBS, this is the first time it's ever been dropped from a cable system, and it has followed up with a note from Showtime claiming TWC removed the premium channel despite authorization to keep it while negotiations continue. Time Warner Cable has its own statement, claiming CBS has "refused to have a productive discussion" since the Tuesday morning extension in talks.
With the NFL season looming we'll see how long TWC is willing to push CBS.com (which some of you have reported is being blocked by CBS), Aereo and antennas as alternative solutions in these major markets and whether CBS is willing to live without the viewership. For now, subscribers missing The Doctors can check out a video from TWC explaining exactly what happens behind the scenes when channels go dark.
Update: TechCrunch has a statement from CBS confirming it's blocked Time Warner Cable customers from streaming full episodes. This is similar to Fox blocking Cablevision subscribers on Hulu during a carriage dispute in 2010, although that turned out to be short-lived.
CBS STATEMENT ON TIME WARNER CABLE ACTION
New York, N.Y. – August 2, 2013 – Effective 5:00 PM Eastern Time, Time Warner Cable has dropped CBS in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and several other markets. We deeply regret this ill-advised action, which is injurious not only to our many affected viewers, but also to Time Warner Cable itself. Throughout this process, 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% increase CBS supposedly demanded – while maintaining antiquated positions no longer held by any other programming distributor in the business. CBS, for its part, is eager to make an agreement in line with the kind it has struck with every other cable, satellite and telco provider, and has continually sought reasonable term extensions to get that job done. This is the first time in its history that CBS has been dropped from a cable system. Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, has a long history of taking channels off the air – more than 50 in the last five years alone. It has also chosen to drop Showtime, which is owned by CBS, a move that is completely unnecessary and totally punitive to its subscribers.
What CBS seeks, and what we always have sought from the beginning, is fair compensation for the most-watched television network with the most popular content in the world. We will not accept less. We will not sign away rights not granted to others. We will not give up our channel position or any other asset by which our viewers identify us. We will also not be subjected to pointless maneuvers like a series of one-hour extensions and mini-drops that do nothing for either side but annoy our viewers. We hope and believe this period of darkness will be short and that we can all get back to the business of providing the best entertainment, news and sports to the Time Warner Cable customers we both serve.
CBS / TWC Drop Questions
Q: Whose decision was it to take CBS off the air?
A: Time Warner Cable's. We offered an extension that they chose to not accept.
Q: Why did Time Warner Cable Drop CBS?
A: Unfortunately, you will need to ask Time Warner Cable, as we offered an extension so that this wouldn't happen. Time Warner Cable refuses to fairly compensate us for being one of the most watched networks on their programming line-up.
Q: Is it true that CBS was asking for a 600% increase in its rates?
A: No. We are not looking for a 600% increase. We cannot discuss specifics, but we do want you to know that our requests are far more reasonable and well in line with what the industry is paying for content. While we are by far the most watched network in the country, there are many more networks that are much less viewed than CBS that Time Warner Cable pays considerably more money for. We are only seeking to be paid fairly for our quality, popular programming including such programs as Under The Dome, Big Brother, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and others, plus a host of sports and news programming.
Q: Time Warner Cable told me that my bill will go up if they accepted your terms?
A: Time Warner Cable already charges you many, many times over what they pay for broadcast programming. If you look at your bill in Los Angeles, for example, where they are required to disclose it, you will see a $20 charge for broadcast programming. We receive far less, in fact a small percentage of that.
Q. How much should Time Warner Cable be crediting me for the loss of CBS?
A: The amount of any credit is up to Time Warner Cable.
Q: How can I get CBS back?
A: Call Time Warner at 855-345-5337 and ask them to get CBS back on their channel line-up. After all, you are already paying for CBS. If Time Warner Cable refuses your request, you do have other alternatives. For example, Direct TV, Verizon FiOS or AT&T Uverse may be available to you.
Q: When will CBS be back on Time Warner Cable?
A: Soon, we hope. But only Time Warner Cable can answer that question. We did not require them to take it down. We have never had one of our stations go dark with a cable company over a business negotiation before, so this is new territory for us. Time Warner Cable has had over 50 of these types of disputes in the last five years and sadly seems to do this quite often to their customers.
Q: Can I still get CBS Primetime on Demand?
A: While Time Warner is not offering the regular linear channel, then they won't have the on Demand content either.
Q: Why have they also taken down Showtime?
A: Showtime is owned by CBS. This is a wholly punitive measure by Time Warner Cable.
TIME WARNER CABLE SUSPENDS SHOWTIME® SERVICES NATIONWIDE DESPITE NETWORK'S OFFER TO CONTINUE CARRIAGE
For First Time In Network History, SHOWTIME Is Dropped
NEW YORK, NY (August 2, 2013) – Showtime Networks' customers nationwide have had their services disrupted by Time Warner Cable today, when for the first time in SHOWTIME history a distributor has chosen to remove the network's programming – despite the network's authorization to allow carriage while negotiations continue. Our customers chose to subscribe to SHOWTIME, and Time Warner Cable in turn chose to pull our service from the subscribers we both serve. Attempts to reach an extension on negotiations were denied by Time Warner Cable, resulting in SHOWTIME going dark in major markets.
The service interruption is not only completely unnecessary, but totally punitive to our subscribers, and will impact and inconvenience millions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks subscribers in major markets across the country. Major markets affected include New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, Tampa, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, San Diego, Columbus, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Austin and Detroit, among many others.
SHOWTIME has been working in good faith with Time Warner Cable to work out a contract, and is deeply disappointed with Time Warner Cable's decision to pull SHOWTIME channels. Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks subscribers will be denied access to new episodes of the climactic eighth and final season of DEXTER, and the most popular freshman series the network has ever had, RAY DONOVAN. Additionally, subscribers will also miss the opportunity to catch up on past seasons of HOMELAND before the series' fall debut, new episodes of WEB THERAPY and countless movies, specials and documentaries.
SHOWTIME has successfully negotiated a number of deals with all of the other major distributors, including Comcast, DirecTV, Cox, DISH, Verizon FiOS, Cablevision and AT&T U-Verse, among others. Time Warner Cable has taken nearly 50 channels off the air in just the past five years in disputes such as the one involving CBS and SHOWTIME now.
We hope and believe this period of darkness will be short, and we can all get back to the business of providing award-winning original series, hit movies, specials, provocative documentaries, and our hard-hitting sports programming to the Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks customers we both serve. We know our subscribers value their SHOWTIME programming, so we encourage them to call Time Warner Cable directly at 1-888-TW-CABLE and Bright House Networks at 1-855-222-0102 to ask that they restore our services. Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks customers who wish to continue their SHOWTIME subscription, should go to www.SHO.com/TimeWarnerCable for a list of television providers that currently offer SHOWTIME. We assure our subscribers that we are doing everything we can to restore their SHOWTIME services.
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIX®, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME 2™, SHOWTIME® SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME®, SHOWTIME BEYOND®, SHOWTIME NEXT®, SHOWTIME WOMEN®, SHOWTIME FAMILY ZONE® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ XTRA. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD™, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ HD, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND®, FLIX ON DEMAND® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ ON DEMAND, and the network's authentication service SHOWTIME ANYTIME®. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution, which offers Smithsonian Channel™. All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV®.
Time Warner Cable:
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. 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.