THE OBENSON REPORT

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FIGHT! - Time Warner Cable To Lose All Viacom Owned Stations!



UPDATE - 9AM, 1/1/09

No surprise... According to Variety,

Viacom, Time Warner Cable strike deal

After running past the initial midnight deadline and into 2009, Viacom and Time Warner Cable reached a tentative deal to keep MTV Networks' 19 channels on the MSO's 13.3 million households nationwide.

Although Viacom threatened to shut off the signal in Time Warner Cable's markets of New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, Viacom granted a one-hour extension just before midnight ET Wednesday and the two sides announced they'd reached an agreement in principle soon afterward. The move avoided the looming blackout of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, among other channels.

In a joint release, Viacom and TWC said they expected to finalize the details of the agreement over the next several days.

"We are pleased that our customers will continue to be able to watch the programming they enjoy on MTV Networks," TWC's president and CEO Glenn Britt said. "We are sorry they had to endure a day of public disagreement as we worked through this negotiation."

Viacom's president and CEO Philippe Dauman stressed the company's long relationship with TWC.

"We're happy to be renewing that partnership for the benefit of their customers and our loyal viewers," he said. "It's gratifying that we could reach an agreement that benefits not only our audiences but that is also in the best interest of both of our companies."
The agreement followed a last-minute offer by TWC on Wednesday that was rejected by Viacom, which qualified it as "a pittance."

Viacom had been seeking about a 12% fee increase, or $39 million on top of the estimated $300 million it is paid by TWC every year. TWC had said it was no time, given the economy, to raise subscriber fees that would have to be passed on to consumers.
As I said, no surprise... there was too much at stake for a deal not to be reached. Everyone's happy... for now anyway...

UPDATE - 2PM, 12/31

Time Warner
retaliates, responding to Viacom's initial statement, and scrolling warning messages on subscriber television screens earlier today... releasing the following statement. It's like little kids having an argument (where's a grown-up when you need one):

Christmas is over, but Viacom is still playing Scrooge, threatening to pull its MTV Networks off of Time Warner Cable at midnight tonight unless we ask our customers to pay exorbitant price increases.

Viacom claims their demands equate to “pennies,” but that is misleading and insulting to our customers, from whom Viacom is trying to extort another $39 million annually – on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars our customers already pay to Viacom each year. That doesn’t sound like pennies to us. Demanding that our customers pay so much more for these few networks would be unreasonable in any economy, but it is particularly outrageous given the current economic conditions.

We sympathize with the fact that Viacom’s advertising business is suffering and that their networks’ ratings have largely been declining. However, we can’t abide their attempt to make up their lost revenue on the backs of Time Warner Cable customers. We’ve negotiated in good faith and made several concessions to help reach a fair and reasonable deal. We’ve asked for an extension of the current contract while we continue to negotiate. But Viacom doesn’t appear to be interested in what’s fair and reasonable for American consumers – they’re only interested in propping up their sagging bottom line, and they are poised to pull their networks from Time Warner Cable customers tonight.

Huge price increases like what Viacom is demanding threaten the ultimate value of cable TV. Time Warner Cable is a retail distributor of products we purchase wholesale. Wholesale programming costs are rising dramatically every year, and, like all multichannel distributors, we have to pass on at least a portion of the increases to our customers. Viacom’s MTV Networks are just a few of the hundreds of channels we carry. If every channel demanded huge, double-digit increases like what Viacom is trying to force our customers to pay, it would be impossible to keep the price of cable reasonable for our customers.

Time Warner Cable has reached hundreds of distribution agreements with other networks. In fact, we currently have deals with every other cable programmer. The negotiations aren’t always easy, but we work hard to reach agreements that are fair to our customers and to both businesses.

We hope Viacom won’t pull the MTV Networks from Time Warner Cable customers, and we’ll negotiate up to the last possible minute and beyond. But ultimately, it is Viacom’s decision. We implore them to join with us to reach a fair resolution or grant an extension, and we hope they won’t carry through with their threat to take their networks away from our customers tonight.
Story continues below...

UPDATE - 11AM, 12/31

According to Deadline Hollywood Daily,

It appears Time Warner Cable customer service was unprepared for the onslaught of complaints from subscribers flooding into call centers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many reps were unaware of the dispute with Viacom, which began running news crawls below its programming that 19 channels would go dark on the cable system operation at 12:01 AM on January 1st. Viacom also placed full-page advertisements in some major market newspapers today featuring protests by its media programming characters, including Dora the Explorer who is shown crying because she is being taken away from her fans. The cable company says it is prepared to refund customers for the lost programming if a deal can't be reached by New Year's, though the amount hasn’t been determined yet.
Story continues below...

UPDATE
- 1:55AM, 12/31

I'm watching SPIKE TV (a Viacom channel) at the moment, and for the last several minutes, a warning message (obviously sponsored by Viacom) has been scrolling at the bottom of my TV screen, instructing Time Warner Cable subscribers to call their local Time Warner Cable offices ASAP, and demand that they keep all 19 Viacom channels as mentioned in the press release below. I'm sure the same message is on display in every city in which Time Warner has a subscriber base.

INITIAL POST - 9PM, 12/30

I just read this over at
Deadline Hollywood Daily.

I'm sure a deal will eventually be reached! There's too much at stake!

However, as it stands currently, per the Viacom press release below, at 12:01AM on January 1st, 2009, all Time Warner cable subscribers, across the USA, will lose all Viacom owned cable TV stations - and that includes,
MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, and Nickelodeon, amongst many others - all prime small screen real estate! I don't watch any of those channels, so even if I was a Time Warner Cable subscriber, I wouldn't think much of the loss - other than the fact that I'd still be paying my regular fee despite having 19 fewer channels, which obviously wouldn't go over well with me!

However, I do catch clips of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart online, from time to time.

Here's the just-issued statement from Viacom. Of course it's all about money. Viacom wants more from Time Warner, but Time Warner doesn't want to give:

This move by Time Warner Cable to force such channels as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV off the air is another example of a cable company overreaching for profit at the expense of its viewers.

The renewal we are seeking is reasonable and modest relative to the profits TWC enjoys from our networks. We have asked for an increase of less than 25 cents per month, per subscriber, which adds up to less than a penny per day for all 19 of MTV Networks’ channels. We make this request because TWC has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long. Americans spend more than 20% of their TV viewing time watching our networks, yet our fees amount to less than 2.5% of what Time Warner generates from their average customer.

Throughout the country, we have negotiated equitable license agreement renewals, or are in the final stages of renewals, with virtually every cable and satellite carrier. Nevertheless, Time Warner Cable has dismissed our efforts at a fair compromise and has effectively chosen to deny its customers some of the most popular TV shows on the air.

As a result, we are sorry to say that for Time Warner Cable customers our networks will go dark as of 12:01 on January 1st, denying Time Warner customers shows like Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and The Hills.

Ultimately, however, if Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and the rest of our programming is discontinued – over less than a penny per day - we believe viewers will see this behavior by their cable company as outrageous.

Time Warner Cable subscribers who are being handed a January 1st $3 monthly increase in Raleigh, Orange County, Los Angeles, and New York City are simultaneously facing the removal of beloved shows across 19 channels.

We find it a shame that Time Warner Cable remains unreasonable at this time. We hope its leadership will have a change of heart and will seek to negotiate a fair renewal agreement.

Any Time Warner Cable subscribers out there? If this does occur as stated, on January 1, I'm guessing Time Warner's customer service lines will be immensely busy that day, and beyond. But, as I said at the top, I'm sure a deal will be worked out - if not by tomorrow, then, sometime soon thereafter!

I'll keep you updated...

via DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD DAILY

30 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
     

    Ridiculous! Jesus, Im so furious!!!! Gah!!!

  2. Dostoy said...
     

    If this goes down I'm switching. Screw TWC.

  3. Jacky said...
     

    it won't happen -- they won't let it happen -- too much at stake.

  4. Viacom Sucks said...
     

    I won’t miss Viacom, but I am on Dish Network and they have gotten involved in a deadlock with Fisher Broadcasting, so we have lost all of ABC - which means no Nightline, no Good Morning America, no Charlie Gibson, no George Stephanopolous, etc. I hate, as a customer, being held hostage by long term contracts, and then deprived of the programming I signed up for.

  5. Clever Girl said...
     

    My husband told me about this and I was worried, but when I saw the line-up of channels being lost, I too thought, “No great loss here.” I can watch Colbert and Stewart on my laptop whenever I want. MTV and the other trash can disappear.

    Nickelodeon has good stuff, but my kids are grown. I say, let the free market decide — cable should go a la carte. I would love to pay for only the channels I watch. History, Discovery, PBS, CSPAN, MSNBC, CNN, Science Channel, NatGeo, FoodNetwork, TLC, HGTV, A&E, Ovation, AnimalPlanet (for dog shows), TCM. Dump the religious garbage and sports.

  6. Anonymous said...
     

    You can watch all this stuff online for free anyway. I’ve already reduced my service to basic cable, and watch everything else online. Eff ‘em…

  7. Aziza said...
     

    Glad I have Direct TV. If there ever was a time for them to push their services, this would be it!

  8. web design India said...
     

    nice post

  9. Anonymous said...
     

    I am sick and tired of people saying just watch what ya want online! I did not buy a 64inch tv to watch tv online!!! I watch the computer all day at work. I would like to sit on my couch and enjoy my favorite shows! I will be dropping it for sure!

  10. mike star said...
     

    And yet another reason to hate TWC. I won't keep paying the same bill price for less channels.

    There are several other services in my area, so maybe this is the kick in the a** I needed to finally consider them.

    If this continues, I'll be switching my cable and high speed internet service to another company.

    I’m sure another service will be more than happy to take my money!!!

  11. Anonymous said...
     

    twc has message on my local # that they are trying to retain programming and reach an agreement.

  12. Wolff said...
     

    Both Viacom and Time Warner suck anyway!!! I wish they would just go away.

  13. Anonymous said...
     

    Drop Viacom and don’t raise my rates. I won’t miss any of the channels in question and am disgusted by Viacom’s attempt to profit on the backs of cable/satellite subscribers. As reported in Reuters and AP, Viacom's cable/satellite ad revenues and ratings are dropping in part due to the fact that they make their most popular shows available for download on the internet.

    So Viacom wants cable ad revenue, internet ad revenue, and wants to increase fees that will be passed on to me? H*** no.

    If a cable/satellite subscriber wants a Viacom channel so much, they can pay for it a la carte. Don’t pass the buck to every single subscriber.

  14. Jmat said...
     

    When Dish network had this issue in 2004 they credited their customer a dollar a month, when they discontinued Viacoms channels I'm sure TWC will do the same or similar. Viacom is outrageous, I work at another cable company and am on the phones right now fielding call after call asking if we are losing channels as well. Ridiculous uproar that has nothing to do with us.

    I mean Viacom actually had Dora the Explorer doing ads about pressuring TWC to keep Viacom, how much lower can you go?

  15. Thehazard3316 said...
     

    Yupp I have dish network and I have seen that scrolling message all got damn night!! and I live in an Area where most people have comcast but this intrigued me and.I wondered about this and I had heard about a similar situAtion with dish network in which viacom did one of thosee message things but dish network had blanked em out to prevent people whom this message is targeted to unable to see the message, someone please update me on how time warner subscribers on how or if they are getting the scroll email me with a reply : thetrackablehazard@gmail.com

  16. Amalia said...
     

    I hate TWC. That is such BS that they are not negotiating to protect the customer. Please. TWC bleeds people dry for money. they are already too expensive and taking advantage of their customers. This has to do with their own greediness, not their sudden new-found conscious. My cable goes through my apartment complex at a discount, but unfortunately for them, if they are going to take away channels and charge me the same amount, then it's not worth it. I only get a fraction of the channels anyway, and now AT&T has better packages with more than double the channels for a few dollars more than what I am paying now. I signed up for this for the convenience, but I don't want to lose some of my favorite shows. I agree with Dostoy, screw TWC, I'm switching.

  17. bishop said...
     

    That number scrolling across the bottom does not work. I called TWC and they lied and said, ‘oh we aren’t in dispute with Viacom and you won’t lose your channels.’ I’m sure they passed this explanation out on index cards to all the customer care reps and told them to read it exactly like it says. This was sneaky as hell and TWC knows it. I’d hate to be workin New Years Day there…I’ll keep their number on speed dial.

  18. Anonymous said...
     

    i will be cancelling immediatly. the only thing i watch is vh1 and mtv. people who say who cares whatever to them i love vh1 and mtv and i am proud of it.they have the most unbelievable reality shows.time warner is huge but they cannot afford the viacom shows but the smaller cable companies in the midwest can?i have been calling three seperate numbers for time warner for hours this morning and it is amazing the lengths they are going to. they will not take any calls basically. one number rang busy for four hours when i finally got a machine that wanted me to state the reason for my call i said cancel service the minute i said that they disconnected me. now when i call that number it rings twice answers and hangs up on me. the 800 number is worse they make you say and punch in a lot of things then they say after like 10 minutes call back later and they hang up.the third one ran me around more than any of them and hung up.they never notified us this was coming,they knew the reaction,had i known i would have cancelled weeks ago. satellite here i come.they got 100 bucks a month from me for basic cable and for internet. it seems like that is a lot of money to lose all the people that will cancel their service.how are my grandaughters supossed to watch sponge bob?you people are too greedy and i want my moneyt back for all the calls i have made to you today on my cell that never led me anywhere!you disgust me!

  19. Anonymous said...
     

    I hope that TWC does not give into the demands of Viacom. This whole mess is starting to sprial downwards! Many local stations are also now trying to charge cable companies for the use of their signal which is provided over the air for free. It seems everyone is out for more money. Sure, Viacom can say that it will only cost X amount per day to pay them what they want. Here is the problem though. Many, many other contracts are held by the cable companies. Depending on how TWC handles this one will affect how the future negotiations go. If TWC gives in, the other companies will follow suit and ask for higher rates. Before you know it, the average TWC customer's bill will increase much more than "pennies per day." Stay strong TWC. Don't give in to Viacom.

  20. Anonymous said...
     

    This doesn't affect Dish Network Customers does it? I have no idea what Time Warner actually owns and operates...

  21. Patosons said...
     

    With the economic times as they are, the last thing I want is for my cable bill to go up again. And unfortunately, with the loss of Viacom programming, I don’t think we will see a reduction in our monthly bill.

  22. Anonymous said...
     

    Absolutly bull! They better keep channels or they will never hear the end of it from me!

  23. timothy said...
     

    All you people saying that the channels don't matter obviously don't have kids. Losing nickelodeon, noggin, and nick 2 alone is enough to send every parent of young children into an furious rage. Fix the problem TWC and Viacom or you will lose many customers. The price of not coming to an agreement is far higher than the price of giving viacom their money.

  24. Anonymous said...
     

    Yeah it stinks that if Viacom doesn't come to an agreement with TW but, that being said.. I don't want my rates for cable to go up either and it will happen if TW goes to their demands. It really irritates me to see some people trash talking TW, do you want rate increases? I think that they're trying to ask more out of TW compared to other cable divisions because TW is one of the top cable leaders. If TW lets them get away with their demands than when all the other cable co contracts are ready to expire they will use TW as their push. So to all of those trashing TW think about the BIG picture and think of your wonderful rate increases.. Happy New Year!!

  25. Anonymous said...
     

    I say call Viacom and tell them not to charge TW so much more and make a good contract that everyone is happy because if they do this to TW all the other companys that carry these channels will have the same thing happen to them being dish, cable when their contracts expire they will threaten to pull the plug unless their demands are met. It's good that TW is not being a coward and accepting their contract because I don't want my bills to increase anymore. So say all you will about TW but it's not really the TW at issue it's about the network in whole. Switch to dish and see what happens when their contract is up? You may be in the same boat that you're in now.. Good Luck with your TW Trash Talking.. I happen to like the company and believe that they're looking out for us the consumer.

  26. thewatcher207 said...
     

    I will be sorry to lose CMT and Pure Country. I also watch Spike sometimes. My boyfriend watches TVLand. I do however understand TWC not wnat ing to raise prices to cover the fees Viacom wants. I am tired of prices rising every time I turn around. The price of gas went down and now companies need to stop using that exscuse and act accordingly.

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  30. Andrew said...
     

    It’s difficult when these types of scenarios play out in this industry. Unfortunately no matter what carrier you have this is can happen. Working for DISH Network I’ve seen us go through these types of issues occasionally as well, but the difference in my opinion, is how they’re dealt with from a customer service standpoint. It’s important that the issue is handled delicately because it can easily become detrimental to the business/customer relationship. That’s what makes DISH different though, and part of why we were ranked number one in overall customer satisfaction among all cable and satellite TV providers in last years ACSI survey, marking the tenth year in a row of beating Time Warner.

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