Wednesday, December 31, 2008

TWC Clock is Ticking Toward Midnight


As we tick closer to midnight this New Year's Eve, it's looking more and more like there will be no more Viacom-produced programs on Time Warner Cable here or anywhere. As usual, with TWC it's all about money.

Viacom issued a statement this afternoon:

Statement From Viacom Regarding Renewal Negotiations With
Time Warner
NEW YORK, Dec. 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Time
Warner Cable's continued rhetoric and posturing is disappointing and
unproductive. We have made it clear that we welcome a credible and
meaningful discussion that respects our viewers and the value our
programming brings to Time Warner Cable. We remain
ready and willing to engage. It's time for serious talk - before the viewers
become the victims.

"Viewers become the victims." Hmmmm. They must be reading "NewsMcNabb". Of course, TWC says this empasse isn't their fault. Here's their official statement:

Statement from Glenn Britt, President & CEO, Time Warner Cable Re: Viacom’s threats to pull MTV Networks from Time Warner Cable customers, December 31, 2008

Christmas is over, but Viacom is still playing Scrooge, threatening to pull its MTV Networks off of Time Warner Cable at midnight tonight unless we ask our customers to pay exorbitant price increases. Viacom claims their demands equate to “pennies,” but that is misleading and insulting to our customers, from whom Viacom is trying to extort another $39 million annually – on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars our customers already pay to Viacom each year. That doesn’t sound like pennies to us.
Demanding that our customers pay so much more for these few networks would be
unreasonable in any economy, but it is particularly outrageous given the current
economic conditions.

We sympathize with the fact that Viacom’s advertising business is suffering and that their networks’ ratings have largely been declining. However, we can’t abide their attempt to make up their lost revenue on the backs of Time Warner Cable customers. We’ve negotiated in good faith and made several concessions to help reach a fair and reasonable deal. We’ve asked for an extension of the current contract while we continue to negotiate. But Viacom doesn’t appear to be interested in what’s fair and reasonable for American consumers – they’re only interested in propping up their sagging bottom
line, and they are poised to pull their networks from Time Warner Cable
customers tonight.

Huge price increases like what Viacom is demanding threaten the ultimate value of cable TV. Time Warner Cable is a retail distributor of products we purchase wholesale. Wholesale programming costs are rising dramatically every year, and, like all multichannel distributors, we have to pass on at least a portion of the increases to our customers. Viacom’s MTV Networks are just a few of the hundreds of channels we carry. If every channel demanded huge, double-digit increases like what Viacom is trying to force our customers to pay, it would be impossible to keep the price of cable reasonable for our customers.

Time Warner Cable has reached hundreds of distribution agreements with other networks. In fact, we currently have deals with every other cable programmer. The negotiations aren’t always easy, but we work hard to reach agreements that are fair to our customers and to both businesses.

We hope Viacom won’t pull the MTV Networks from Time Warner Cable customers, and we’ll negotiate up to the last possible minute and beyond. But ultimately, it is
Viacom’s decision. We implore them to join with us to reach a fair resolution or
grant an extension, and we hope they won’t carry through with their threat to
take their networks away from our customers tonight.

Some of the cable Networks affected: Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Too, Nicktoons, Noggin, Palladia HD, Spike, TV Land, VH1, VH1 Classic, Comedy Central, and BET.

(Suddenly, Blogger won't let me change formats. Sorry)

The Austin American-Statesman headlined the story in their afternoon
update, and there is a host of angry posts below it. Feel free to compose one here and copy it on the newspaper's page. To borrow the famous line from that great TV movie "Network", "I'm mad as hell, I'm not going to take it any more!" So, go to your windows, doors, and computers and start shouting your disdain for these robber barrons.

(C) Jim McNabb


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