TWC may yank Fox at the end of 2009!


The Mod Squad
The following is from an article posted at Multichannel News.

It looks like there is a very real danger that Fox will be removed from Time-Warner Cable Systems at midnight 2010. John Kerry won't be able to watch football due to this.

Kerry: TWC-News Corp. Retrans Impasse Must Not Interrupt College Football
Writes Letter Calling For Dispute Resolution Before 'Bowl Games Begin In Earnest'
John Eggerton -- Multichannel News, 12/22/2009 12:24:58 PM

There is nothing like constituents threatenend with the loss of college football to get the attention of Congress.

Senator Communications Subcommittee chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) took a break from the ongoing healthcare battle to write the heads of News Corp. and Time Warner Cable calling on them to resolve their carriage dispute before the first of the year, when the college bowl games begin in earnest.

"Private industry negotiations cannot disrupt a fundamental American tradition," he said flatly.

""Fox and Time Warner need to strike a deal - millions of football fans are depending on it," said Kerry in announcing the letter to News Corp. president Chase Carey and Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt

"Having screens go dark because two parties couldn't come together in time is no solution. New Year's Day and football are synonymous in households across the nation. Private industry negotiations cannot disrupt a fundamental American tradition."

Fox issued the following reply, saying it continues to negotiate with the No. 2 cable operator.

"For months, Fox has been negotiating in good faith with Time Warner Cable, " said Fox in a statement. "Our position in these negotiations is entirely reasonable -- we are simply asking for fair compensation for the impressive value our Fox programming offers. We will continue to actively negotiate with Time Warner Cable in hopes of reaching a fair agreement."

Noted Free Press policy director Ben Scott: "Senator Kerry is right to blow the whistle on the spat between Fox and Time Warner. Too often, content and cable companies feud over who gets the biggest slice of an enormous profit pie without any regard for consumers. After years of unrelenting rate hikes, consumers shouldn't have to cope with suddenly losing TV service of local sports programming on New Year's Day because two corporate boardrooms decided to butt heads. These shenanigans expose serious hypocrisy in the industry. "

The full text of Kerry's letter is listed below:

Dear Sirs:I am aware that FOX and Time Warner Cable have been involved for some time in negotiations regarding the terms of carriage for FOX-owned broadcast television stations, as well as FOX-owned cable channels.

These are private negotiations, and I hope that the parties reach a mutually acceptable resolution before the existing agreement expires on December 31. If you fail to do so, I suggest that FOX allow Time Warner Cable to continue transmitting programming through the College Bowl season either under current terms and conditions or under terms and conditions that will be retroactively applied once an agreement is reached, or under some third option. I also suggest that both parties strongly consider entering arbitration rather than having consumers lose access to programming.

If I understand correctly, at midnight on December 31, 2009, FOX content may be removed from cable systems Time Warner Cable owns. This means that, in January, millions of Time Warner Cable customers around the country could lose access to the Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl, as well as NFL playoff games. Prior to the digital transition, many consumers were able to put up rabbit ear antennas to receive programming. However, digital receivers are more expensive and complex to use. We do not want consumers waking up on the first day of the New Year wanting to watch football and instead finding that they have to take a trip to the electronics store to purchase a digital receiver in the hope that they receive a clear over the air signal.

As the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communication, Technology, and the Internet, I have sought to place the interests of consumers at the center of our work. If both parties conclude that the best alternative to a negotiated agreement is to have screens go dark for consumers, then they will have neglected the core interests of the millions of households that subscribe to Time Warner Cable in affected markets. As leaders of major companies that are FCC licensees and are obligated to serve the public interest, I hope and expect that you will resolve this matter consistent with those obligations.


I try really, really hard to avoid making political comments, but this one is just too rich to ignore: The contempt for citizens' intelligence in that letter is at once manifest and mind-boggling.

Is hassle-free viewing of a few ballgames yet another new "constitutional right" worthy of your implicit threats, Senator?


Honestly, and who better to comment than Kerry. Pfft, who keeps voting this guy in every term. He's always been a fake.
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Super Moderator
First everyone in the Senate is fake, so why pick on John Kerry?

Two, who cares? I watch FOX OTA.

Three Time-Warner is in that too big to fail category. That is where the focus should be from the Senate, not about a bloody football games. If they only owned 20% or so of the cable systems (I assume they own more) then their customers would give them enough headaches they would compromise, even with a rate increase. But when one company has that many households, they can hold a network hostage.

All BS.... And why we need to keep OTA.


Retransmission Fees will replace lots of revenue that broadcasters will eventually lose, as advertisers realize that they've been raped for years, getting far less value from their advertising than they've been paying.

All the networks affiliates will be doing it.

Yes, it will increase your cable costs.

That's life.

Regarding the "Time Warner/Fox -- who's right?" argument: Each of us can choose to believe one side or the other, based on our own preconceived notions of goodness or badness. However, the reality is that both sides are businesses, each doing what they're supposed to, in this case promoting the best interests of their owners.

The rates are going to be the rates no matter what: Limited basic (including Fox, by the way) will cost some amount which the franchising authority will agree is fair, even if that means offering that level of service at a loss; while advanced service offerings will reflect full value, regardless of cost. The only question here is how much of the money will stay with the service provider, versus how much will be "shared" with the folks who are in many ways responsible for much of the value that the service provider is able to provide.

There is no right or wrong, here. What's going on is provided for, explicitly, by the law, and the resolution will be arrived at as many business negotiations are arrived at, perhaps even resulting in the channel not being carried on the service provider for an extended period of time -- something which is clearly provided for by the law.


The Mod Squad
I think all OTA brodacasters should send out a nice signal fror all in their DMA. This can be their leverage just in case the cable or satellite signals are shut down due to disputes such as this.

It's true some (like me) in rural areas will end up in trouble but if many (like me) have an alternative way to get the channels. (In my case, OK I won't see WNYW5 from NYC so I will tune to WOLF56 from Scranton via an OTA antenna).

I know this is not an option for everyone. For more there are, there is some more leverage for the channels being received OTA.

If the channels are offered OTA, I don't believe the cable or satellite providers should be required to pay anything for carriage. That should just be a courtesy. I have found a couple of VHF channels that think as long as they are on cable or satellite, they have no reason to be concerned. WBRE & WYOU in NE PA just don't care even though they have a pettiful OTA signal. They have no carriage disputes at this time. I'll bet you, some day they will. That may change their thier thinking.


If the channels are offered OTA, I don't believe the cable or satellite providers should be required to pay anything for carriage. That should just be a courtesy. I have found a couple of VHF channels that think as long as they are on cable or satellite, they have no reason to be concerned. WBRE & WYOU in NE PA just don't care even though they have a pettiful OTA signal. They have no carriage disputes at this time. I'll bet you, some day they will. That may change their thier thinking.
Yes but cable and satellite providers charge their customers for watching TV while OTA does not. So being able to carry locals out of courtesy without OTA being compensated would make for an unfair advantage for cable / satellite providers.


You are entitled to your opinion, of course. As we've discussed many times before, many folks online express opinions that are strictly consumerist in bias, and I suspect that's the case here with your opinion: That "both are wrong" solely with regard to what's best for subscribers.

However, even there, I have to disagree with you. While above, I expressed my balanced opinion that neither are wrong, if I were to express a biased opinion -- biased by what's best for subscribers -- then most likely I would conclude that Fox is much more wrong, because it is their action that is going to drive my costs up, and permanently. TWC is not doing anything that will have permanent negative impact on subscribers.


The Mod Squad
Wow! I just noticed this not only includes Fox OTA TV but the cable channels like FX, Speed, Fuse, Fuel TV and more as well.

Media Week

I side with TWC on this. Fox is getting too greedy and if TWC gives in, everyone will end up paying more as they will be looking for similar increases from all the providers when the contracts get renewed. Then when the other providers see what Fox did, they will want more too.

I think the worst thing that will happen is TWC will drop Fox for just a few days to a couple of weeks at most. In the end they will both find that they need each other.


Y'know, there is yet another bias that could be applicable here... the quality bias. The reality is that, if Fox doesn't get this additional money, that puts more impetus behind the move, already in clear evidence, pushing quality programming to cable (primarily FX, in Fox's case, but also pushing programming from NBC to USA, from ABC to Disney and ABC Family, from CBS and CW to HBO, Showtime, TBS, and TNT). In light of the decreasing value of advertising on television, we can expect to see the migration of quality programming to cable to escalate, unless over-the-air broadcasters are able to establish a strong, second revenue stream.


Broadcasters' woes could spell trouble for free TV (AP)

For more than 60 years, TV stations have broadcast news, sports and entertainment for free and made their money by showing commercials. That might not work much longer.

The business model is unraveling at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and the local stations that carry the networks' programming. Cable TV and the Web have fractured the audience for free TV and siphoned its ad dollars. The recession has squeezed advertising further, forcing broadcasters to accelerate their push for new revenue to pay for programming.

That will play out in living rooms across the country. The changes could mean higher cable or satellite TV bills, as the networks and local stations squeeze more fees from pay-TV providers such as Comcast and DirecTV for the right to show broadcast TV channels in their lineups. The networks might even ditch free broadcast signals in the next few years. Instead, they could operate as cable channels — a move that could spell the end of free TV as Americans have known it since the 1940s.
"Good programing is expensive," Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox, told a shareholder meeting this fall. "It can no longer be supported solely by advertising revenues."

Fox is pursuing its strategy in public, warning that its broadcasts — including college football bowl games — could go dark Friday for subscribers of Time Warner Cable, unless the pay-TV operator gives Fox higher fees. For its part, Time Warner Cable is asking customers whether it should "roll over" or "get tough" in negotiations.


Cable channels make most of their money by charging pay-TV providers a monthly fee per subscriber for their programing.


Having two revenue streams — advertising and fees from pay-TV providers — has insulated cable channels from the recession. In contrast, over-the-air stations have been forced to cut staff, and at least two broadcast groups sought bankruptcy protection this year.

Read more: Broadcasters' woes could spell trouble for free TV


Staff member
The deadline is coming up fast. Can't believe they're still ironing out the details.

Time Warner Cable subscribers could lose Fox channels on New Year's Eve

Don't panic if you're watching Fox's New Year's Eve special and the screen goes black moments before host Carmen Electra finishes screaming "Happy New Year." There's nothing wrong with your TV. You're just caught in a brawl between two media giants.

At issue are the fees that News Corp., Rupert Murdoch's sprawling media empire, is demanding that Time Warner Cable pay for transmitting its Fox stations -- including KTTV-TV Channel 11 and KCOP-TV Channel 13 in Los Angeles -- as well as cable networks such as FX, Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket.
Edit by Jay:,0,103391.story
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They are essentially required by the reality of the human condition to always leave these things to the last minute. That reality is that the result of this negotiation is unequivocally going to be a reflection of the swaying of public opinion. And the public simply will not engage the issue if it was presented as something that won't happen for an extended period of time.

We had a similar situation with the DTV transition. Lots of folks complained incessantly that it was poorly planned and implemented, that they were rushed and needed more time. Bull, bull, bull. It was well-planned and well-executed. It was the reality of the human condition, which I referred to earlier, the pervasive reluctance on the part of people to engage an issue that affects them until it is time-critical -- until the impact on them in is absolutely imminent -- that caused most (though not all) the issues that people experienced with the DTV transition ... and this situation is the same. People are not going to take sides -- not going to start making up their mind whether they're going to switch from TWC to DirecTV, for example -- until just before they have to make that decision (if even then).


The Mod Squad
As we get closer to the deadline, it looks more and more like Fox will be taken down tonight.

Fox channels likely to go off TW Cable
By The Associated Press

Posted: December 31, 2009 - 10:35 AM

LOS ANGELES — Bart Simpson and the Sugar Bowl game could disappear from the TVs of Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and other markets in a bitter dispute over fees that the Fox television network is demanding.

As a midnight Thursday deadline approaches, an executive at Fox owner News Corp. indicated a signal interruption was likely.

In dispute are the fees that Time Warner Cable Inc. pays Fox to carry its channels. In the past, the Fox network was offered for free, and cable companies essentially paid more for FX and other cable channels that News Corp. also owns. This time, News Corp. is demanding $1 per subscriber every month for the network itself.

Fox argues that Time Warner Cable is making money off its programming, so it should get a cut of subscription revenue. Time Warner Cable says the demanded fees are excessive.

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said Wednesday that the cable TV operator will agree to binding arbitration and any interim steps necessary to keep Fox channels on while talks continue.

But in a note to employees Wednesday, News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said temporarily extending the current terms past Thursday would "simply extend the period of time that Time Warner profits from our marquee programming without fairly compensating Fox for it." He also rejected arbitration as a possibility.
Click here for the whole story


The Mod Squad
Well it seems that Fox has backed down at the last minute. It's still on right now.

There are also other carriage disputes going on. Read on..

Fox and Time Warner make a deal... for now

January 01, 2010 - 1:18 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Fox and Time Warner Cable extended their contract for a few hours, avoiding a threatened blackout of several stations from the cable provider while the two sides tried early Friday to resolve a disagreement over fees.

Time Warner Cable Inc. made the announcement as the clock rolled past midnight Thursday on the East Coast. In a brief statement at 5:30 a.m. EST Friday, Scott Grogin, Fox senior vice president for communications, said "we are still negotiating.''

The extension for a few hours made it appear likely that at the very least a further extension would be granted, allowing millions of cable subscribers access to Friday's Sugar Bowl between the Florida Gators and the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Cotton Bowl on Saturday, the NFL's final regular season contests on Sunday and ``The Simpsons'' and other Fox shows were also at risk.

Karen Amaya, a 30-year-old schoolteacher and Time Warner Cable subscriber in Van Nuys, Calif., said she was concerned about not being able to see "The Simpsons'' on Sunday night, which her husband watches "religiously.''

She said it was "kind of frustrating'' not knowing what would happen, especially as both sides had heavily advertised the possible disruption.

Fox had threatened to pull the signal from 14 TV stations it owns, a move that would have affected more than 6 million customers of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Fla., and other markets.

If the signal were dropped on cable, people could tune into Fox with an antenna if they have a digital TV or converter box. But most Americans these days get broadcast channels through subscription services such as cable TV or satellite.

Six Fox cable channels, including FX, Speed and Fuel, and certain regional sports networks were still being distributed throughout the Time Warner Cable and Bright House service territories. Carriage arrangements on those channels weren't to expire until Thursday at midnight PST (3 a.m. EST).

The dispute focuses on how much Fox is paid by cable companies to retransmit its stations' signals. Time Warner Cable and a smaller cable TV operator, Bright House Networks, have resisted paying a new $1 monthly fee per subscriber that News Corp. is demanding from both operators.

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt has called the fee demand excessive and said the cable operator has reached deals for "much lower'' rates with Fox affiliates, stations that carry Fox programming but are owned by other companies.

Fox has said it needs subscription revenue to supplement the advertising revenues that have supported its broadcast network up until now.

Separately, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns broadcast stations in markets as large as Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, agreed to an eight-day extension for cable TV operator Mediacom Communications Corp. to carry Sinclair's Fox and CBS stations. Mediacom will pay Sinclair a higher rate than it was paying under a contract that also was expiring at midnight Thursday.

In another fee dispute, Cablevision Systems Corp. said early Friday that it had failed to reach a deal to continue carrying HGTV and Food Network for its 3.1 million subscribers in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, adding it had no expectation of carrying the signals again.

The channels are owned by Cincinnati-based Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.

Time Warner Cable continued to carry Food Network and Great American Country under a temporary deal extension as its talks with Scripps also continued late into the night.