1. Arts & Entertainment

Bright House viewers lose WTOG, Showtime in CBS-Time Warner dispute

A Time Warner Cable dispute with CBS caused shows such as Dexter on Showtime to be blacked out on Bright House Networks over the weekend.
Published Aug. 6, 2013

Tampa Bay area customers of Bright House Networks cable systems may be feeling caught in the middle, as a dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable has resulted in the loss of local CW affiliate WTOG-Ch. 44 and premium channel Showtime.

Area Bright House customers lost access to the channels at about 5 p.m. Friday, as negotiations over retransmission fees broke down between CBS and Time Warner Cable, which handles programming deals for Bright House.

In addition to WTOG and Showtime, Bright House viewers lost access to CBS Primetime On Demand, Flix, the Movie Channel and Smithsonian; and all CBS-owned stations or cable channels. Customers of Bright House's high-speed cable also saw their access to free video content on eliminated.

The loss has been more pronounced for Time Warner subscribers in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles, where CBS owns the stations airing its network that have been dropped from systems there. In the Tampa Bay area, Gannett Broadcasting owns CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10, which remains on Bright House.

As the blackout has dragged on, both companies have moved their fight to the media space. CBS on Monday issued ratings data for its networks over the weekend claiming that the blackout's influence on their overall ratings "is expected to be minimal," though it affects 3.2 million customers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Later in the day, Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt gave media outlets a letter also sent to CBS president Les Moonves suggesting that the channels could be immediately returned to their systems a la carte — in which customers would pay an extra fee determined by CBS for access to its channels, the same way viewers pay for HBO or Showtime.

This would be a marked change for the cable provider, which argued along with other companies that economics require them to bundle the costs of most channels. It also puts CBS in a position of acting on public statements about the value of its content; if it thinks Time Warner should pay, say, $2 per subscriber, why shouldn't it charge customers the same fee directly?

Bright House spokesman Joe Durkin said the blackout came as CBS offered shorter extensions to its carriage agreements and Time Warner/Bright House suggested a yearlong extension. He also said customers will see a credit on their bills for the time when they couldn't access Showtime. (Because WTOG is part of a suite of basic and standard cable channels, reimbursement for its loss isn't likely.)

It's a tough time for CBS channels to vanish, as the network is presenting the successful summer series Under the Dome and golf tournaments featuring a resurgent Tiger Woods. By fall, the network will be offering professional football games. Showtime is also airing the final season of acclaimed crime drama Dexter.

Such fights are only expected to increase, as broadcasters seek to build the kind of revenue streams earned by cable channels, which already charge cable systems for retransmission rights in addition to on-air advertising.


  1. Graham Nash will perform at the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre on March 19. Courtesy of Amy Grantham
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  2. Gondolas move to various locations at Walt Disney World on the Disney Skyliner aerial tram, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Disney officials said the resort’s Disney Skyliner started operating again on Monday.
  3. This Sept. 30, 2019 photo released by ABC shows former White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, left, and Lindsay Arnold during the celebrity dance competition series "Dancing With the Stars," in Los Angeles. President Donald Trump tweeted Monday, Oct. 14, that viewers should vote for Spicer. The president called him a “good guy” and wrote, “he has always been there for us!” Spicer told USA Today there’s no question a “huge” amount of his votes come from Trump supporters. ERIC MCCANDLESS  |  AP
    The president called Spicer a “good guy” and wrote “he has always been there for us!”
  4. From left: Jason Mewes as Jay and Kevin Smith as Silent Bob in "Clerks II." The Weinstein Company
    Catch a showing of the ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot,’ the Jokes on You Comedy Tour continues and celebrate the 40th anniversary of ‘Alien.’
  5. Actors emerge from a simulated farmhouse at the center of the Infected Haunted House at Scream-A-Geddon in Dade City. Luis Santana
    Fall fests, haunted trails and other scares kick off Halloween festivities.
  6. The French onion soup dumplings at Tropez. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    The approach at this restaurant/bar/lounge might be a little too eclectic. | Restaurant review
  7. Mumford and Sons will headline the 2020 Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival in South Florida. Courtesy of Alistair Taylor-Young
    Vampire Weekend, Haim, Rufus du Sol and Kaskade lead the eclectic 2020 lineup.
  8. Families enjoy carnival rides at the 2018 Rattlesnake Festival at the Pasco County Fairgrounds. The festival returns Oct. 18-20, kicking off with a concert featuring the Bellamy Brothers on Friday and food, entertainment and educational activities throughout the weekend. "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Musicals, art exhibits and other things to do in Pasco and Hernando counties
  9. Alison Krauss will perform at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 20. Capitol Records
    The Clearwater Jazz Holiday returns with a strong music lineup, Zac Brown Band plays Tampa and Barry Bostwick will be here to screen ‘Rocky Horror.'
  10. Festival goers move through the midway during the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church's annual Ethnic Festival. This year's festival will be Oct. 17-20 at the church on Spring Hill Drive at Coronado Drive. Tampa Bay Times | 2010
    The 28th-annual Ethnic Festival returns to St. Joan of Arc.