Fox and Time Warner Cable in retrans showdown


It’s the granddaddy of all retransmission consent battles as Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) contract to carry the Fox cable networks and broadcast O&Os expires the end of this month. Negotiations have stalled and – you guessed it – each side is blaming the other.

TWC recently announced retrans deals with Sinclair and Local TV LLC, so it has been able to come to terms with some broadcasters. But we now know who the “roll over or get tough?” website and ad campaign recently launched by TWC was about – Fox. It asks viewers to vote on whether the cable MSO should “roll over” and pay networks more for their programming, with price increases to be passed on to subscribers, or “get tough” and refuse “outrageous price increases.” TWC said it would share the results of the online voting with the networks who are seeking price increases that the cable company says run as high as 300%.

Also affected are cable subscribers at Bright House Networks. It is partly owned by TWC and they negotiate jointly for programming.

The people at Fox, owned by News Corporation, have a very different view.

“For the past nine months, Fox has attempted to negotiate in good faith with Time Warner Cable. Our position in these negotiations is entirely reasonable – we are simply asking for fair compensation for the impressive value our Fox programming offers. While negotiations are ongoing, we have a responsibility to prepare our viewers for the very likely possibility that Time Warner Cable may choose to no longer carry Fox Broadcasting, Fox Cable and Fox regional sports programming. Toward that end, today we launched a marketing campaign notifying Time Warner Cable subscribers that they may lose access to ‘American Idol,’ ‘24,’ ‘House’ and some of the best live event sports programming on TV (including most BCS Bowl games and NFL on Fox),” Fox said Friday in a statement.

Guess what? The Fox side also has a website aimed at building public support, It includes a countdown of the number of days left “to save your programming.” Fox has also launched an advertising campaign in print and on TV.

“Going forward, we will continue actively negotiating with Time Warner Cable in hopes of reaching a fair agreement and will attempt to keep our viewers informed of the situation every step of the way,” Fox said.

RBR-TVBR observation: Time Warner Cable without the BCS bowl games, “American Idol” and Fox News Channel? That should be good news for DirecTV and Dish Network.