Saturday, August 3, 2013

CBS Goes Dark For 3 Million

If you're one of the three million customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, or any of the other markets Time Warner Cable provides service to, you likely missed the CBS Evening News last night.

That's because the cable company and CBS, one of the big "three" television networks, were unable to reconcile a fee dispute, so just after 5 p.m. Friday, it was lights out for CBS.

Photo Courtesy

You can read more about the dispute in the New York Times' article from today, but truth be told, a dispute like this - no matter what side you're on - looks bad for both the cable company and the network.  Both appear greedy and dismissive of viewers, as if their fees are more important than Grandma watching The Young & The Restless (which she may not get to watch since negotiations are expected to last more than a week). In all honesty, both are in the customer-service business. A move like this normally infuriates viewers and draws harsh criticism directed at the cable provider, but with dismal summer programming, there hasn't been as much backlash as CBS had hoped.

The network, which is asking for a $2-per-customer re-transaction fee, has been reaching out to viewers via social media for support.  Hundreds of users commented on CBS' official Facebook page last night, many saying CBS was at fault for demanding too much money. One commenter even said she'd write to their advertisers and begin boycotting their services.

TWC issued a statement saying "CBS is trying to delay this negotiation right up to NFL season, which is not fair to our customers," a spokesperson said. "We’ve accepted numerous extensions at this point, but it’s become clear that no matter how much time we give them, they’re not willing to come to reasonable terms."

The cable provider, too, has asked customers for support, utilizing its social media outlets and public airwaves.

It, like so many issues these days, comes down to the almighty dollar.  By CBS demanding more money from TWC, TWC would probably be forced to raise customer costs.  By TWC refusing to pay more for CBS, subscribers may lose CBS in their homes.  All in all, it's a miserable situation, but in the end, the ones who really get screwed are the customers.

What's the solution here?