Time Warner Makes CBS an Offer It Can Refuse

TV sports
TV sports

In an attempt to end the three-day blackout of CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) programming on Time Warner Cable Inc.'s (NYSE: TWC) cable systems, the cable operator has sent a letter to CBS offering two options to get the network back. Neither is likely to appeal to CBS.

The first option would have Time Warner resume carrying CBS "with the new economics TWC reluctantly agreed to during our negotiations." CBS had a chance to do that last week and refused.

The second option is more innovative, at least from Time Warner's point of view. The cable operator said it is willing to offer CBS programming on an a la carte basis and on terms of CBS's choosing. In exchange, CBS gets to keep all the subscriber fees. In other words, Time Warner is saying let the customer set the price for CBS programming and Time Warner is providing the service for free.

Of course customers could just get the broadcast network over the air without charge. That takes some of the luster away from this option, at least from CBS's point of view.

The final item in Time Warner's letter is a demand that CBS "immediately" stop blocking content on CBS.com from Time Warner's high-speed Internet customers:

Regardless of the other issues between us, it is surely beyond the pale for you to subject these Internet customers to blocking of content that is made available for free to all others. This is especially so given that CBS uses free public airwaves to broadcast that content and has public interest obligations that it is plainly flouting. In addition, this conduct is abhorrent in that CBS is using this blocking to punish TWC's Internet customers across the country...

Time Warner wants its subscribers to know which company is blocking access to CBS programming and which company to blame. Hard to believe it will have much impact on CBS though.

Filed under: Media Tagged: CBS, TWC

Originally published