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Time Warner Cable battles CBS over fees in New York, Los Angeles

By Alex Sherman
Bloomberg News

Time Warner Cable Inc. said it’s balking at renewing an agreement to carry CBS Corp.’s broadcast network on its pay-TV system because the entertainment company is asking for too much money.

CBS is asking for prices 600 percent higher than other affiliates receive for the same programming, New York-based Time Warner Cable said Thursday in a statement. CBS is running TV ads in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas warning customers they may lose shows such as Under the Dome and The Big Bang Theory next week if no renewal is reached, the New York Times reported.

The dispute arises from relatively new fees that broadcast networks like CBS charge pay-TV providers to rebroadcast signals that are free over the airwaves. Until several years ago, Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 U.S. cable system, and other pay-TV operators received the programming at little or no cost. CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves is using the network’s No. 1 status to demand increases.

Moonves “has said ‘the sky is the limit’ when talking about the price he thinks he deserves for his CBS stations, and he clearly means it,” Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Maureen Huff said in the statement. “He doesn’t seem to care about our customers’ budgets or the going rates for CBS programming.”

In separate statements, CBS and Time Warner Cable said they are still negotiating to reach an agreement.

Time Warner Cable won’t negotiate “the same sort of deal that all other cable, satellite and telco companies have struck with CBS,” the New York-based network said in its statement.

Retransmission fees have become a frequent sticking point in negotiations between pay-TV providers and broadcasters. CBS affiliate and subscription fees rose 14 percent in its most recently reported quarter. The fees, once modest, have grown in recent years, and CBS has been among the most aggressive of the networks in seeking sizable increases.


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