The Great CBS / Time Warner Debacle

cbs squareIt was to my dismay in recent days when I was home for lunch and found a black screen when I turned on Showtime. It wasn’t that moment that provided the maligned surprise as I’ll occasionally get the same black screen when I turn on ESPN at times. This is usually corrected by waiting a minute or so, or going to another channel, then flipping back, except this time, flipping back did not provide the desired effect. Instead, I was introduced to this message of doom…

“CBS Corporation has required Bright House Networks to stop carrying Showtime and The Movie Channel.  As a courtesy, we are offering temporary replacement programming, where available from Starz or Encore.  Please check your guide for channel numbers.  We continue to negotiate and believe this will be resolved soon.  Thank you for your patience and for being a valued customer.  For more information, visit brighthouse.com.”  Ironic that the backdrop to this message is the same vivid shade of blue you get when Windows crashes.

Anyway, I wanted answers, so I did what any investigative reporter would do.  I went to the internet.  That’s where the barrage of headlines reared their heads like flashing Vegas marquees.  As it turns out, CBS owns Showtime.  The whole of CBS’ dispute is with Time Warner Cable, who of course carries channels like Showtime.  While Bright House is my cable provider and not Time Warner, I apparently live in an area south of Tampa where Time Warner once reigned supreme.  Because of that, I am feeling the greedy wrath of corporate America and have been deprived of some seriously entertaining programming.


CBS has also allegedly ordered Time Warner Cable to stop carrying its general CBS station.  While I am still able to view CBS via my provider, one has to wonder about the way CBS is trying to accomplish their goal.  In a way, they are cutting off their own nose to spite their face.  What is this whole ordeal about anyway?  Why, money of course!  Yes folks the almighty dollar sign will sweep the masses out from under their legs faster than you can say “Thank God Game of Thrones is on HBO.”

So here’s the deal…or here’s why there’s not a deal I should say.  From an interview with ABC, Tony Case, Executive Editor of ADWEEK, stated that Time Warner Cable pays CBS $.75 to $1.00 per subscriber in New York, but CBS wants $2.00.  While that may not seem like such an high amount to ask for at merely a dollar more a subscriber, think of it this way; that’s at least double what is currently being paid to CBS.  Did CBS’ operation costs suddenly go through the roof?  Has Time Warner Cable been getting a steal all along?  Doubtful on both accounts.  When you take the city and surrounding areas of New York City, that is already a cash cow that CBS is reaping the financial rewards from.  We’re not even looking at the rest of the country yet.


Rebecca Jarvis from Good Morning America reports that the blackout of Showtime (and CBS in some areas) could last anywhere from 10 days to 6 weeks, which happens to go beyond the start of the NFL season.  As CBS is a major carrier of NFL games and the NFL rakes in cash like no other sports league on the continent, you can bet they’ll want to have this wrapped up by the time Tom Brady takes his first snap.  All I know is I’m missing Dexter and Ray Donovan because somebody couldn’t iron out the details of their contract well enough in advance.  Grab a Sharpie and some cocktail napkins and sort it out people.



6 Responses to “The Great CBS / Time Warner Debacle”

  1. Brian White

    Thank you for writing this, Gregg.
    I can’t tell you how pissed I am that I’m missing Dexter because of this. And because of this I have been steering clear of all pop culture news because I don’t want things spoiled for me.
    Much to my dismay on Sunday night I called Time Warner Cable and went through 3 people and gave them a piece of my mind. Great job guys on letting us know this was going to happen. I carved out my Sunday night for these shows. I was furious. I demanded a credit on my TWC account and I got it, but i still don’t feel satisfied. Charge me more for Dexter I don’t care. Just don’t take it away for me.
    It’s also unfair of how if you have TWC for cable and let’s say Direct TV for cable, TWC is blocking Showtime on any mobile apps or ways you watch Direct TV with your internet cable. BS!
    I will call back this Sunday night if there is still no Dexter and demand more money back. I am so mad about this.

  2. Brandon Peters

    Great read, Gregg! People will always complain about their providers, but I’m always grateful for Comcast.

  3. Brandon Peters

    This kind of bad business is also leaving no choice but to force people to steer toward piracy, something that irks them.

  4. Gregg Senko

    Thanks guys. Brian, I wouldn’t be so quick to blame TWC though (although with business as big as this, I doubt there’s a side totally free of blame). CBS is asking for a serious rate hike here that’s in the realm of 100% depending on the area. I’m still trying to figure out why Bright House Network subscribers such as myself are being penalized. Yes TWC was once the provider here though not any longer. It’s head-scratching at best.

  5. Brian White

    I understand, Gregg. But TWC is the one doing the blocking. When I questioned them why wasn’t I notified they said they ran a few commercials. I said I only watch TV on Sunday for DEXTER AND RAY. Again…don’t cut me off. Charge me more. But yeah I know I am blaming people conveniently…just very hurt by this and truly wish I had Comcast. If this wasn’t the last season of Dexter I’d be a bit calmer, but come on!!!

  6. Gregg

    CBS has ordered the cease and desist.