With the contentious Fox TV negotiations behind it, Time Warner Cable is now dealing with 30 other channels currently offered to subscribers.
Food Networks, the Starz channels and The Weather Channel are among those “due to expire soon, and we may be required to cease carriage of one or more of these services/stations in the near future,” the company said. That means cable customers could lose those 30 channels, which are listed below.
By law, the cable provider must give customers 30-days notice (see rule at bottom of this FCC page) if any channels could be interrupted. Time Warner’s Orange County office did that this week by updating its programming alerts page. Some channels showed up in my last report about expiring channels. This either means the contract with the channel has expired and Time Warner continues to negotiate or Time Warner offered more than a 30-day notice. The company won’t say.
What’s the likelihood of losing those channels? Low, said Alex Dudley, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable.
“Contracts between programmers and distributors expire all the time and we’re required to provide our customers with notice of those expiring contracts,” he said. “It’s extremely rare when programming is loss.”
Still, contract disputes have left some cable customers staring at a blank screen.
|Food Network||Scripps Networks|
|Inspiration Network||Inspiration Networks|
|Encore (East)||Liberty Starz|
|Encore Drama||Liberty Starz|
|Encore Love||Liberty Starz|
|Encore Mystery||Liberty Starz|
|Encore WAM||Liberty Starz|
|Encore Action||Liberty Starz|
|Encore Westerns||Liberty Starz|
|Penthouse||Penthouse Media Group|
|TEN||Colorado Satellite Broadcasting|
|Starz HD||Liberty Starz|
|Starz East||Liberty Starz|
|Starz East HD||Liberty Starz|
|Starz Edge||Liberty Starz|
|Starz Cinema||Liberty Starz|
|Starz in Black||Liberty Starz|
|Starz Kids & Family||Liberty Starz|
|Fox Realty||Fox Cable Networks|
|truTV||Turner Broadcasting (a Time Warner co)|
|Great American Country||Scripps Networks|
|Lifetime||A&E Television Networks|
|The Weather Channel||NBC Universal|
|The Weather Channel HD||NBC Universal|
On January 1, customers of Cablevision on the East Coast lost Food Networks and HGTV when the cable company was unable to reach an agreement with those channels’ parent, Scripps Networks. Cablevision subscribers still couldn’t watch those channels until last night when the two finally came to an agreement. Time Warner’s contract with Food Network has reportedly expired but apparently Time Warner, with 13 million subscribers, has much more negotiating power than Cablevision, with 3.1 million subscribers.
It’s also not always about money. Last year, Time Warner ended its contract with HDNet, which offered two HD channels. The network cut fees but wanted the cable company to offer the channels to all customers — not just those who paid separately for a special HD plan (read: “Time Warner rejected HDNet’s offer to lower fees, provide channels to all“).
Most recently though, it was about money. Fox viewers were blasted with “Keep Fox On” campaigns over the holidays warning that Time Warner was cutting off Fox shows. Time Warner had its own campaign — Rollover or Get Tough – to appeal to a customers wallet. When channels demand more money, monthly bills will rise. The overwhelming response was, of course, keep the bills low.
Ultimately, Time Warner customers never lost one second of Fox TV even though negotiations continued after the Dec. 31 deadline. Neither Time Warner nor Fox have said a peep about how they resolved their dispute — reportedly, Fox asked for $1 per month per subscriber.
In the official press release, News Corp.’s CEO Chase Carey called the resolution “a fair agreement,” while Time Warner’s CEO Glenn Britt called it “a reasonable deal.” Elsewhere, analysts and media have guesstimated that Time Warner ended up paying 50 cents per subscriber to 75 cents. Either way, no one is saying Time Warner got out of paying for something it didn’t have to in previous years.
While Time Warner still won’t divulge any details, the company’s own battle to keep these “carriage fees” from excessive increases will continue, Dudley said.
“…Escalating programming costs are the single biggest factor of customers receiving rate increases so it’s imperative to keep those costs lower,” he said. “By getting tough, we have saved our customers hundreds of millions of dollars.”
But did Time Warner cave anyway? Dudley said he’s not in the position to answer that question.
“Getting feedback from that campaign made it very clear to us that our customers want us to get tough. And in the comment section, it gave us insight into the way people want to watch TV,” he said. “Consumer education about this issue will continue to be a critical part of Time Warner.”
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