Matt HealeySunday,18 August 2013

The Snap:

Time Warner and CBS are currently in a spat that has resulted in CBS gong black in several markets. This has already had an effect on some customers as golf’s PGA Championship was on CBS, and for golf fans, this was a big deal. It was the last of the majors.

The Download:

My understanding of the spat is that the main source of problems is money. Well, it is always money. In this case there are problems associated with re-transmission fees and digital content fees. The re-transmission fees are relatively straightforward. How much is Time Warner going to pay for the rights to re-transmit CBS? These fights are common and have happened before and will happen again. The content providers want more and the cable companies want to pay less. In my opinion, they are both wrong because the structure of the agreements force me to pay for channels that I have no interest in so that I can get the channels I want. To get ESPN, I also have to get the Food Network. If you look back at my posts, then you will notice that there are more posts about sports than there are about food preparation. And if I ever did a post about food preparation and chefs, it would be about the joy of watching Paula Dean implode — wait I meant explode, that would be more accurate give the nature of her food.

The new wrinkle is the fee for digital content. A (very) brief search into the topic reveled that CBS wants to charge Time Warner so their customers can get access to on-line content. Now, I am no fan of the near monopoly that the cable companies have. In most cities you only have a few choices as to who your providers are. So you are locked in. But this seems a bit much to me. If Time Warner doesn’t pay, then is CBS going to block Time Warner Cable customers from accessing This is over the line. CBS maintains that allowing TWC customers to access the content for free will inhibit their ability to do deals with other services like Amazon Prime or Netflix. This may be true, but there are a couple of problems with the argument. The main one is choice. I am not sure that I want to have to pay for the online content simply because I am a TWC customer. I don’t have to subscribe to Amazon Prime or Netflix, but to get basic TV I do have to subscribe to TWC if I live in some areas. So by forcing TWC to pay for access to the digital content, CBS is forcing me to pay for it, because you can be sure that TWC will pass that fee on to me through my bill for basic cable. So, Once again I am forced to pay for something I have no interest in.

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