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CBS Pulled From Time Warner Cable, CBS CEO: ‘We Are Now At War’

At midnight ET, after multiple temporary extensions, CBS and Time Warner Cable failed to come to terms on a new retransmission consent agreement, and the companies say CBS feeds will be pulled as soon as possible. Showtime, Flix, The Movie Channel and Smithsonian Channel are also being pulled.

Millions of Time Warner Cable customers will be affected, including those in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas, three of the largest TV markets in the country. As of 12:15 AM, WCBS was still available on Time Warner Cable in New York City.

“We are now at war with Time Warner Cable,” CBS CEO Les Moonves said to the LA Times’ Joe Flint.

“The outrageous demands for fees by CBS Corporation have forced Time Warner Cable to remove several of its networks,” TWC said in a statement. “We offered to pay reasonable increases, but CBS’s demands are out of line and unfair – and they want TWC to pay more than others.”

Update: Shortly after 12:30 AM Time Warner Cable said in a statement that is returning CBS network signals to subscribers. It is unclear whether this is another temporary extension, or a permanent deal. Stay tuned.

AM Update: CBS will remain available while the two sides continue to negotiate. New deadline is Friday. ”CBS and Time Warner Cable have agreed to continue discussions,” CBS says.

CBS, Time Warner Cable Extend Carriage Negotiation Deadline

CBS and Time Warner Caable agreed to extend the deadline to come to a new carriage agreement until Monday. The temporary extension will keep CBS and Showtime on TWC cable packages through the weekend, while the two sides try to hash out a deal.

If a deal is not reached, Time Warner Cable customers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas would lose access to the channels, and CBS would take a ratings hit while negotiations continue. TWC also threatened to permanently remove CBS from the “channel 2″ slot, arguing that if the network wants to be paid like a cable channel, then it should have no guarantee of channel placement. It is absolutely a negotiating ploy, but it is one of the stronger arrows in the cable company’s quiver.

The New York TimesBill Carter has more.

War of Words Between CBS And Time Warner Cable Heats Up

Time Warner Cable and CBS have until 9 AM on Thursday to hammer out a deal to continue carrying the channel, otherwise subscribers of the company will lose access to the broadcast network. The deadline had been Wednesday afternoon, but FCC rules don’t allow blackout during a sweeps period, pushing the deadline to Thursday.

In an email to CBS staff, CBS CEO Les Moonves said that it was a “very real threat” adding  ”as you can imagine, we don’t take this situation lightly.”

If CBS were to be dropped from Time Warner Cable, viewers in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas, among other places, would find themselves without access to the network, and it would almost certainly affect its ratings.

Jeff Zucker: CNN To Be ‘Digital First’ Going Forward

CNN president Jeff Zucker spoke at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference today.

A good chunk of the conversation (you can see the entire transcript here) was about topics we have covered, but Zucker did reveal that he believes CNN’s future is digital, not analog.

To that end, Zucker says they expect to add a number of “digital correspondents” in the coming months. Kelly Wallace was just the first of many.

You know, if you go back to the Boston bombings, more people learned about what happened in Boston from CNN than any other source in the world.  And that’s because they watched it on CNN.  They watched it on CNN International around the world, and they accessed it through CNN.com or CNN Mobile or any of our digital assets.

And I think that really is the future of CNN is we’re not going to care what screen you’re watching CNN on, as long as there’s a CNN red logo on whatever asset you’re accessing.  And to us, mobile is probably the most important part of our future, but digital as a whole is where we’re concentrating everything.

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Dispute Could See CBS Stations Pulled From Time Warner Cable

A dispute over retransmission fees could see Time Warner Cable customers lose access to CBS as soon as July 24. The two companies have gone public with the negotiations, having failed to come to a deal in the boardrooms.

If CBS does get pulled from Time Warner Cable, TWC customers in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and other markets will not be able to see “CBS This Morning,” “60 Minutes,” “The Late Show” and “CSI,” among other programs. Suffice it to say the ratings will suffer as a result, though for CBS, the most important thing is getting higher fees from the cable company.

CBS has launched a website, keepcbs.com, to get its point of view out, and both companies have taken out print ads (see photo above). The LA TimesJoe Flint has more details on the dispute.

The dispute–the latest in a strong of disputes over carriage and retrans fees–will adversely affect consumers no matter which company ends up winning. If CBS gets pulled, people won’t be able to watch shows they want to see (and if it keeps going, NFL football would be affected). If TWC pays CBS what it wants, the monthly price of cable service will go up even more.

For CBS News, it would also stymie the ratings progress made by “CBS This Morning” and the “CBS Evening News.”

21st Century Fox And News Corp. Trumpet ‘Day 1,’ As Independent Companies

Today, the company formerly known as News Corporation officially began trading on the public markets as two new companies: News Corp. and 21st Century Fox.

The former News Corp.’s TV assets, including Fox News, FX and Fox broadcasting, are now part of 21st Century Fox, alongside film production. The company’s newspaper and publishing holdings, as well as Dow Jones and Australian pay TV company Foxtel, are now the new News Corp.

To mark the occasion, mimosas were served at the News Corp. building as employees walked in. and the companies bought full page spreads in the Wall Street Journal (a News Corp. paper) and the New York Times.

Check out the ad(s), after the jump.
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CNN Targeting Younger Viewers To Attract New Advertisers

It is hardly a secret that cable news viewership skews old… sometimes very old. While viewers 55+ can goose total viewer numbers, the bottom line is that aside from somewhat shady gold dealers and certain male-enhancement pills, most advertisers prefer younger viewers. The TV news “key demo” is adults 25-54,” while most of the rest of TV sells adults 18-49.

According to Variety‘s Brian Steinberg, CNN is hoping to attract new advertisers for programs that it think will skew younger than its competitors. “Parts Unknown” is already vastly younger than msot cable news programs, and the network expect the same of “Inside Man” and the doc “Girl Rising.”

The subject matter drew ad dollars from Procter & Gamble’s Always feminine-hygeine products. Procter has advertised on CNN before, but this product had not, according to D’Alba. Likewise, MillerCoors has used the Bourdain program –centered on travel and food – to promote Leinenkugal, a craft wheat beer. The advertiser had not appeared on CNN in some time, D’Alba said.

“We are looking for more travel-related revenue. We are looking for more automotive, especially younger-skewing automotive, as well as the beverage categories,” D’Alba said.

Reading between the lines, don’t be surprised if CNN adds another travel program or two to its lineup at some point.

Then there is the new morning show “New Day,” which will have some sponsorship integration at launch from insurance company Allstate:
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News Corp. Board Approves Company Split

The board of News Corp. has formally approved the motion to split the company in two. News Corp.’s newspaper and publishing businesses, along with its Australian businesses, will become the new News Corp., while the company’s TV, film and studio businesses (including Fox News Channel) will now be part of 21st Century Fox.

“Today’s announcement is a significant step in creating two independent companies with the world’s leading portfolios of publishing and media and entertainment assets,” said Rupert Murdoch, who will serve as Chairman and CEO of the proposed 21st Century Fox, and Executive Chairman of the new News Corporation. “We continue to believe that the separation will unlock the true value of both companies and their distinct assets, enabling investors to benefit from the separate strategic opportunities resulting from more focused management of each division.”

The company also announced the board members for the new companies. More information here.

Senator John McCain’s Plan To Torpedo TV As We Know It

This afternoon Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced legislation (The Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013) that would completely upend the television business.

There aren’t many things that can unite News Corp., Turner Broadcasting, NBC, CBS and Disney, but stopping this legislation is sure to be one of them.

In a nutshell, McCain’s legislation would allow cable, satellite and telco companies to unbundle TV channels, either selling them “a la carte” or in smaller bundles (think a “sports” bundle). It would also prohibit media conglomerates from shifting popular programming from free over the air networks to cable channels (think the NCAA basketball championship being shared between CBS, which is free, and Turner Sports, which is on cable).

McCain, speaking on the Senate floor, noted that the cost of cable has gone up 4X more than the purchasing power of U.S. consumers, thanks largely to the ever-increasing bundles which force cable companies to carry “Nat Geo Wild” if they want Fox News, or “Cloo” if they want USA Network.

“It is unfair and wrong, especially when you consider how the regulatory deck is stacked in favor of the industry, and against the consumer,” McCain said.

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NBCU Spent $195 Million To Buy Back Half Of MSNBC.com

Thanks to Comcast’s 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, we now know how much NBCUniversal spent to buy back the 50% of MSNBC.com that was owned by Microsoft.

The total purchase price for Microsoft’s stake was $195 million, “net of $100 million of cash and cash equivalents held at MSNBC.com that were acquired in the transaction,” according to the SEC filing.

The deal, which was signed last July, saw NBCU take control of the site and its employees, and redirected visitors to a new site called NBCNews.com. MSNBC.com is in the process of being transformed into a site dedicated to the politics-centric cable news outlet.

It is a fascinating deal because websites tied to TV operations are rarely if ever broken out financially. The purchase price means that Microsoft and NBCU valued MSNBC.com at around ~$500 million. It is not a perfect science, but general traffic stats have MSNBC.com slightly behind CNN’s digital properties, and almost double that of Fox News Channel’s digital properties. Obviously advertising sales and revenue models can vary from company to company, but it at least gives a ballpark estimate of the value of some of these digital properties.

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