Fight over fees by CBS and Time Warner Cable could see Tampa's WTOG-Ch. 44 dropped from Bright House Networks
LOS ANGELES – While stars such as Jon Voight and Ted Danson enjoyed cocktails and finger food, CBS executives paced along the roof of a parking garage across the street from the Beverly Hilton hotel here Monday, cellphones plastered to their ears, trading information on the company’s contentious negotiations with Time Warner Cable.
Even as company CEO Les Moonves traded chitchat with TV critics during a press party for the network’s fall season, Time Warner was briefly pulling CBS channels off its systems in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles. Eventually, the companies worked out an extension until 5 p.m. Friday to work out their differences.
In the Tampa Bay area, the dispute could result in CW affiliate WTOG-Ch. 44, an outlet owned by CBS Television Stations, being dropped from Bright House Networks cable systems. Bright House negotiates many of its programming deals through Time Warner, and can be involved in the same retransmission fights; WTOG was not among the channels pulled on Monday night.
Conflicts over the cash TV stations charge to be carried on cable systems, known as retransmission fees, have intensified in recent years, as big media companies increasingly depend on such revenue to maintain their profits in a fragmenting television industry.
Moonves has been a pioneer in this regard, pressing cable systems to pay for access to CBS programming and local TV stations which once were provide free, in less challenging economic times.
“We’re at war with Time Warner Cable,” Moonves told the Los Angeles Times upon hearing of the channel removal, summing up the mood of many network executives at the party.