Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt makes offer to CBS

Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt, in a letter to CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves, said the pay-TV distribution giant would be willing to offer CBS on an a la carte basis to its subscribers and let them choose whether they want to pay for the channel.

The letter is the latest volley in an ongoing carriage dispute between the two companies that last week resulted in CBS-owned media outlets going dark for Time Warner Cable customers in several markets, including Los Angeles and New York.

Such an arrangement, though unlikely to come to fruition, would make CBS similar to premium channels like HBO, which consumers pay for individually.

“This way, rather than our debating the point, we would allow customers to decide for themselves how much value they ascribe to CBS programming,” Britt wrote in the letter.


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CBS said it received the letter and would formulate a response.

Britt also said he would agree to immediately resume carrying CBS under terms “TWC reluctantly agreed to” during negotiations, implying that the company would pay an increased subscriber fee and accept fewer digital rights than it had sought.

Neither side has discussed the terms but analysts and people close to the negotiations said the subscriber fee would start at $1 a month and rise during the contract to $2.

Britt also called on CBS to stop blocking Time Warner Cable customers from viewing programming on the Web. CBS makes a substantial amount of its programming available on its website but has been blocking access from Time Warner Cable’s Internet subscribers since Friday afternoon.

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“Regardless of the other issues between us, it is surely beyond the pale for you to subject these Internet customer to blocking of content that is made available for free to all others,” Britt wrote. “This is especially so given that CBS uses free public airwaves to broadcast that content and has public interest obligations that it is plainly flouting.”

When a Time Warner Cable broadband customer tries to see a CBS show on the CBS website, the customer instead sees the words “content not available” and an anti-Time Warner Cable ad.

On Friday, Time Warner Cable stopped carrying CBS in several markets, including Los Angeles and New York, when the two sides failed to come to terms on a new carriage agreement.

Here’s the full letter


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