We’re soon going to hit the 96-hour mark for the CBS blackout on Time Warner Cable in three major markets (NYC, L.A., and Dallas) and the national blackout of Showtime. In a move that offers an olive branch with one hand and pokes a finger in the CBS eye with the other, TWC CEO Glenn “Two Ns, two Ts” Britt has reached out to the broadcaster with an offer that is really more of a publicity stunt.
First there’s the seemingly genuine part of the letter [PDF] that reads:
“In the interests of getting CBS back on our cable systems today, we… propose that CBS and Time Warner Cable immediately agree to resume carriage with the new economics TWC reluctantly agreed to during our negotiations, while employing all the other terms and conditions of our recently expired contracts.”
Britt refers to this as “not ideal” for either party but wants to get CBS back on the air (along with quieting subscribers and getting its hand on local ad revenue).
Then things turn a bit sour.
“Alternatively, if you are unwilling to agree to this proposal, we would also be willing to resume carriage by allowing CBS to make its stations available on an a la carte basis at a price and on terms of its choosing, with 100% of that price remitted to CBS. This way, rather than debating the point, we would allow customers to decide for themselves how much value they ascribe to CBS programming.”
It’s a clever ploy on Britt’s part, basically challenging CBS to reveal the rarely disclosed carriage fees it charges to TWC. Of course, CBS will never, ever, ever do that because consumers would likely be very angry to find out just how much of their cable bill goes to a channel that they can get for free with an antenna.
The letter also calls on CBS to cease blocking access to CBS.com content for TWC subscribers, saying it “is beyond the pale for your to subject these Internet customers to blocking of content that is made available for free to all others.”