Non-Crisis Is Over: Fox, Time Warner Reach Agreement

Fox and Time Warner Cable have settled their differences, and come to an agreement regarding Fox content over Time Warner’s cable network.

“We’re pleased that, after months of negotiations, we were able to reach a fair agreement with Time Warner Cable — one that recognizes the value of our programming,” said Chase Carey, deputy chairman, president and chief operating officer of the News Corporation, parent company of Fox, in a joint statement with Time Warner Cable.

Hmm. Not to speculate, but that sounds like Fox is going to get more money from Time Warner, and, by extension, consumers.

No word yet on the ongoing Cablevision/Scripps dispute that leaves Cablevision subscribers without Food Network access.

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  1. ElizabethD says:

    Laura, I hope Consumerist is paying you triple-overtime for working on a holiday! :-)

  2. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    I’d probably cancel cable all together if they stopped carrying the Food channel.

    I’m watching Good Eats right now!

  3. Hobbes says:

    Rats. I was hoping TW would stick it to FOX. FOX needs TW more than TW needs FOX – I don’t care what anyone says… the network is more important than the content in this case because you can easily get the content though other means – some of them legal and not so legal (including OtA antenna).

    I’m a Cablevision subscriber and I hope we never see Food TV or HGTV on the network again. I don’t know how much they were asking (but it shouldn’t be more than a few pennies (if I were to value the channels) and while it would only represent a 0.01% increase in my monthly bill, I would rather the channels be repurposed for content providers that realize that they need the pipes more than the fee to carry the content – especially if they think that pulling the content is the right way to treat the views.

  4. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    If everyone got paid a buck a subscriber, no one could afford cable. I hope TWC got a good deal– they charge out the wazoo and I don’t want to have to pay more. I wish everyone would go to an ala cart service.

    • MSchott says:

      Make the call to TWC to say you can’t afford cable anymore. They’ll over to knock $15-$20 off per month just to keep you. I’ve done that for the past two years. I’m a starving grad student but I don’t want to give up my Travel channel and Bravo yet.

    • Seanumich says:

      Then I can guarantee there will be very few cable stations left. Ala carte service will negatively affect consumers. We will go back to 15 stations top. There will be no original programming, since every subscriber will need to say yes or no to a station. With your proposal ESPN, FOX
      Restaurants that charge ala carte usually end up costing more than those that do things in packages. A pizza place wont deduct part of the price of the pizza if you say no sauce or cheese. If you live in an apartment complex most do not say we will deduct rent if you donot want your sidewalk plowed. Cable was broght in for the COMMUNITY. You pay for local access stations and the ability to watch school board meetings as well. If you do not like it, you are free to cancel cable all together. It is not your right to decide their business model.

      • dantsea says:

        You really earned your paycheck with that paragraph.

        • Seanumich says:

          I am not paid for anything I post on here moron. I know knee-jerk reactionaries like you have no ability to think beyond a one sentence snippet, but if you have nothing to offer the conversation go away. The true evidence my argument has won, is that you can not defend your argument, so you attack ME.

  5. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I wish I could lower my bill & opt out of channels instead of having to buy a package that includes content I don’t watch. If TWC is going to pass on the Fox increase then I should have an option to decline those channels.

    • ophmarketing says:

      That’s a false perception. “A la carte” channels wouldn’t result in any savings for the consumer–if anything, it would drive prices higher, since the per-channel fee would be raised in order to offset increased costs (such as more agressive marketing) and losses (from ad revenue) in other areas. What’s more, the way things are now, smaller niche channels are carried as part of arrangements with content providers who also offer more popular channels. If the niche channels had to stand on their own, they would quickly be dropped due to their low subscription rate, resulting in a diminished choice for everyone.

      There was a good overview of the situation in the NY Times a couple of years ago, which probably explains it better than I am:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/business/media/24nocera.html?pagewanted=all

      But to sum up: a la carte pricing = higher costs and less choice. No thanks.

      • utensil42 says:

        I’d like to see a “pseudo a la carte” option. Instead of picking the “gold” package to get a few channels I want but a lot I will never watch, and instead of picking each channel bit by bit, I’d like a compromise. Give me the option to buy the arts package (Bravo, A&E, etc.), the sports package (ESPN, FSN, etc.), the home package (Food, HGTV, etc.), the kids’ package (Disney, ABC Family, etc.), the music package (MTV, VH1, etc.), the movie package (TCM, HBO, etc.), and so on. I don’t have kids, I love sports, I never watch MTV, I can pick and choose what fits my preferences without getting too much of what I don’t want and still “subsidizing” the more niche channels.

        • Etoiles says:

          That’s what I’d like to see, too. The only stumbling block I can think of is that matching networks are owned by competing companies, who would probably be difficult to work with in negotiating the packages.

      • psm321 says:

        How about a-la-carte choice of packages from different station owners? If Fox wants to charge more for their channels, TW can raise the price for the Fox package and I can choose to drop all Fox channels (or Scripps, or whatever)

  6. Trai_Dep says:

    So, since Fox is demanding carriage fees from cablers just like the cable stations pay, is Fox going to give chunks of their commercial time to cablers, as the cable stations do?
    Can’t have it both ways, Murdoch: either you want the same deal as the basic cable networks (both give and take) or not.

  7. twophrasebark says:

    I’m pretty sure they agreed that you the consumer could pay for the higher rates on an upcoming bill.

  8. MooseOfReason says:

    I saw the ransom note ad Time Warner put in the NY Post. They said they were willing to pay Fox slightly more for their programming, but not so much that it screwed their customers.

    I don’t know. I guess Time Warner customers will see.

  9. dvdchris says:

    All Fox shows are on Hulu; why do I care if the local affiliate is carried on cable or not?

  10. jp7570-2 says:

    This seems to happen annually between various networks and cable and/or providers. At the end of the year, somebody doesn’t like the deal they’ve got so they spend millions on newspaper ads “warning” the public they’ll lose this channel or that channel.

    Know what? A last minute deal is almost always reached and the subscriber is the one holding the bill.

    To Comcast, TW, DISH, DirecTV, and all the others: We are not fooled at all by these tactics. Why not give subscribers a choice by channel instead of packages. Given a choice, there are some channels some of us could easily do without. Let us decide what we want to pay for.

    • god_forbids says:

      Indeed! The most consumer-friendly thing to come out of [Consumerist’s bleating up] this whole debacle was learning how much money I spend on sports channels that I will never, ever watch. If I could eliminate every stupid sports channel I would save more than half my bill :(

  11. maximus says:

    Heck, I think I should demand carriage fees from Fox for having their shows cluttering my tv.

  12. Woodside Park Bob says:

    Some of the comments here are a great argument why we need to be able to decide which cable channels we want to pay for and which we don’t. I don’t watch the Food Network, and never have, but I’m forced to pay for it to get channels I do watch. Is ESPN worth $48 a year? Not to me. I’d dump it at that cost, which is what I’ve heard I’m paying, if I could. I’d probably keep it at some low amount.

    The technology is there to let us pay only the channels we want — they do it now for the paid movie channels. The FCC should force the cable companies to make all the channels optional, and that would restore reasonableness to pricing.

  13. wrjohnston91283 says:

    Rather than al la carte, what they should do is have “custom bundles”. Start with basic broadcast cable, and the customer can pick 15 cable channels. I would pay $30 a month for that, since I don’t think I watched that many cable channels when I had digital cable and 100 channels. Basic cable costs $10 in my area, so the cable company is getting an average of $1.33 for each other channel I pick, much more than what they are getting per channel now.

  14. PsiCop says:

    These and other, similar conflicts demonstrate that what we need is for by-channel pricing. This gets the cable companies out of the way, and allows consumers to decide what they want and how much they’ll pay for it. If News Corp wants to charge people, say, $1 per month per channel to watch, let them … and let consumers decide if that’s worth it to them.

    As it stands — with many consumers paying for channels they may not even watch — the effect is that the channels are making money they haven’t actually done anything to earn. (I have never, for example, watched HGTV or Fox Business, to name just two examples, and never will — not even at gunpoint. Yet both channels get a piece of my cable bill, each month, without regard to that.) And it’s the cable companies that are allowing them to do so. Take them out of play, however, and the channels will actually have to work for their money.

    This means, of course, that this will NEVER happen. Companies always prefer unearned money to earned money. But as the old Jimmy Fund slogan says, “I can dream, can’t I?”

    • PsiCop says:

      Ugh! “what we need is for by-channel pricing” should have been “what we need is ‘by-channel’ pricing.”

    • Colonel Jack O'neill says:

      That will never work, maybe for some , but not for the majority. Cause they are lots of people who channel surf, like me, who might find an interesting show on a channel that they would have never found, and they can possibly become a fan of that show now.

      With a with alacart model, maybe they would’ve never subscribed to that channel, so they wouldn’t have found that show then.

      • PsiCop says:

        That’s the assumption everyone works on. However, I can truthfully say that I have never, and will never, watch anything either on HGTV or Fox Business. The same is true of dozens of other channels. There is nothing either channel could possibly offer which I would ever want to see. I object to having to pay for them … yet I do, anyway.

        At what point do any of the companies involved … the cable companies or the channels’ owners … decide that the consumers’ will, matters? Under the current business model, viewers don’t matter one whit. Channels are able to — and in fact they DO — shovel a staggering and endless array of pure manure at people, through their TV sets. The current business model does not discourage it … quite the opposite, it encourages it! Quality is expensive to produce; mediocrity and garbage are cheap. Hence we get many times more of the latter, than we do the former.

        A by-channel model, on the other hand, would force the channels to actually provide people with what they want to see, rather than just shoveling a steaming load at them.

        It’s clear to me that the current trash-incentivized business model isn’t working. Apparently it’s not working out so well for the cable companies or channels, either (hence the current conflicts). At some point they are, themselves, going to have to collectively admit that it needs to change. Unfortunately, “change” in this case would be expensive. Since no business wants to spend money, ever, for any reason, the bottom line is that these conflicts will become more common, not less, and it will eventually drive some channels off the air.

        Yes, that’s right folks. They’d rather go out of business than pry open their wallets and spend the money needed to really appeal to viewers.

        • Colonel Jack O'neill says:

          When people sign up for cable or satellite, they know how many, and what channels there’re getting, and if they don’t like the options, they don’t have to sign up then.

        • Con Seanne-BZZZZZZZZZZZZ says:

          If it wasn’t for Discovery, History, NatGeo, and their affiliated channels, I’d have no need for cable aside from watching the occasional game on ESPN or Fox Sports, which I could probably pass up and just listen to the radio. Even my viewership of those channels is declining.

  15. fs2k2isfun says:

    Here on the Gulf Coast, Scripps and Mediacom are having a dispute about some channels too, including the local ABC affilliate.

    Despite using an antenna, I was reminded every 15 minutes to complain to Mediacom during the Rose Bowl last night.

  16. DJSeanMac says:

    TWC: If we don’t reach an agreement pronto, Olbermann and O’Reilly will be switching places on the dial.
    FOX: But that would mean Fox News would move to digital tier and cost extra!
    TWC: You got it. No more political favoritism for the basic cable lineup.
    FOX: We give! We give! And you can keep that extra $3/mo you’re going to charge because of the “harsh negotiations” we forced upon you. Please keep Fox News on basic cable, whatever the cost!!

  17. james says:

    I’ve always wanted to buy Animal Planet and the Food Network and merge them to create…. The Dog-Food Network

  18. dg says:

    Actually this should read “Oh crap, the CongressCritters are getting their panties in a bunch. And if we irritate THEM, WE’LL have to deal with whatever half-assed legislation they pass. Let’s go best ball on the next hole for the pricing…”

  19. Winteridge2 says:

    Time Warner: Happy New Year, customers, and here is your bill with the usual annual increase. Please note that Fox is attempting to charge us more for their services, and we need your help in fighting their price increase or we must cancel them. Please do not complain about our price increase, as we need more money. Make sense?

  20. ferd says:

    We had a similart hassle in Houston a few years ago between TW and Disney over the Cartoon Channel. It went on for a couple of years and finally came to a head when Disney pulled all their channels from TW including the local ABC channel that was broadcasting the Houston Rockets playoff game. WTF! Over a cartoon channel.

    • Bix says:

      Disney doesn’t own the Cartoon Network. Time Warner does. Disney has Toon Disney (which I think has a new name now that it has less commercials) but it’s a minor digital channel that I doubt would have caused a major stir.