CBS boss rejects Time Warner Cable offer to end blackout over fees

  • Updated: August 6, 2013 - 4:00 PM

LOS ANGELES — CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves rejected an offer from Time Warner Cable to end a blackout over fees that lingered into its fifth day Tuesday, calling it a clever public relations ploy.

In a letter released Tuesday, Moonves rebuffed Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt's offer to allow CBS to sell its programming to consumers "a la carte" instead of bundled with other channels.

Moonves said if the cable operator were truly open to the idea, it would allow Los Angeles customers to choose whether to pay for Time Warner Cable's new sports networks covering Los Angeles Lakers basketball and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games.

The two companies are engaged in a dispute over how much Time Warner Cable Inc. pays for CBS programming. The fight has resulted in a blackout of CBS programming to some 3 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas since Friday. Some 2.5 million Time Warner Cable customers who pay extra also lost access to the CBS-owned Showtime channel.

Moonves also declined a Time Warner Cable proposal that would require the cable provider to pay higher rates while getting video streaming rights for no extra charge.

Such an arrangement would make it impossible to earn revenue by licensing shows from online video outlets. CBS Corp. cut one such special deal for "Under the Dome," a series that debuted in June and is shown to Amazon.com's Prime video subscribers four days after airing on TV.

"What you are asking for, pure and simple, is either to gain the right to deliver content for free that others are paying for, or to inhibit CBS from licensing content to existing online competitors and new companies that are now emerging," Moonves wrote in the letter addressed to Britt. "I can understand why you might want to preserve your dominance in that venue, but bullying us into becoming your accomplice in that effort doesn't seem fair."

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