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Retrans

Two California Senators Ask CBS and Time Warner to End Blackout

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have co-written a letter to both CBS Corporation president and CEO Les Moonves and the head of Time Warner Cable Glenn Britt urging the two to end the dispute between their two companies.

The senator’s press release says the fight between the two companies “has blocked consumers across the country from receiving programming they have paid to access.”

“Millions of customers in the Los Angeles area and throughout the country have subscribed to receive the programming CBS networks create and Time Warner Cable distributes, but are unable to access it because of this standoff,”” the Senators wrote. “The status quo is unfair to the millions of your customers who are caught in the middle of your dispute, and we strongly encourage both sides to resolve it immediately.”

Because of the dispute over retransmission fees, Time Warner Cable subscribers in major TV markets like Dalls, New York and Los Angeles can’t watch CBS programming. You can read the full text of the letter after the jump. Read more

Customers Sue Time Warner Over Loss of WTMJ

Last month’s decision by Time Warner Cable to drop WTMJ has prompted three of its customers to seek a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all TWC subscribers who no longer get the Milwaukee NBC affiliate.

Steven Delonge and Paul Scoptur of Wauwatosa, WI, and Stephen Raymonds of Menominee Falls are looking for unspecified damages for breach of contract and a days credit for each customer affected for every day service was interrupted more than four hours. The plaintiffs are represented by Paul Scoptur’s law firm Aiken & Scoptur.

“My contract is with Time Warner, that’s who I pay,” Scoptur told WTMJ. “They promise to give us Channel 4 and they made the decision to remove Channel 4.”

Time Warner pulled WTMJ on July 25 over a dispute with WTMJ’s parent company Journal Broadcast Group over retransmission fees.

According to both WTMJ and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a TWC spokesperson declined to comment. You can watch WTMJ’s report on the story by clicking here.

Citing Weekend Numbers in NY, LA and Dallas, CBS Says Blackout Won’t Affect Ratings

With the CBS-Time Warner Cable dispute still underway, CBS is touting weekend ratings at its O&Os in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, saying the blackout “will not present an overall ratings hardship.”

From Friday to Sunday, the late local news averages for WCBS in New York, KCBS in Los Angeles and KTVT in Dallas were up +9% in Total Viewers and +13% in the A25-54 demographic compared to the same period last week. The Friday to Sunday primetime averages for the stations in the ad-friendly A25-54 demographic is identical to the same nights the prior week, according to CBS.

The blackout affects 3.2 million Time Warner customers across the three markets. Citing “strong ratings growth” this summer and traditionally low viewership during the month of August, CBS says the “overall financial impact” of the blackout will be “negligible.”

Read the release from CBS after the jump. Read more

How Long Will the Dispute Between CBS and Time Warner Cable Last?

CBS stations remain unavailable to Time Warner Cable customers in major markets, including New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston. The New York TimesBill Carter reports the two sides “may not engage in further direct confrontation for some time”:

Several media analysts suggested the standoff might be protracted, with predictions ranging from about 10 days to as long as six weeks. The later date is associated with the start of the N.F.L. season, a package of programming that everyone involved agrees cannot be denied to subscribers.

Indeed, timing seems to be the dominant factor driving the dispute. CBS has continued to insist that it would make its programs available to the cable company throughout the negotiations and that the cable company acted now to remove them from its service because Time Warner Cable would lose leverage as the football season got closer — a point the cable executives do not dispute. They acknowledge they need to push the issue now.

Raycom Stations Go Dark on Dish Network

Raycom Media stations in 36 markets have gone dark on Dish Network after the two companies failed to reach an new carriage agreement by midnight Wednesday.

“We are ready to listen to a fair proposal from Raycom to bring this impasse to a swift end,” Dish director of programming Sruta Vootukuru said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the broadcaster has not been willing to pursue an agreement that would have avoided this disruption of service to our customers and Raycom viewers.”

“We understand this is frustrating for DISH Network customers, we share their frustration, and we are committed to doing everything we can to resolve this issue,” Raycom Media president and CEO Paul McTear said.

CBS and Time Warner are facing a Friday deadline in a similar dispute.

‘It’s a Free Over The Air Signal’: Diller Defends Aereo at D11 Conference

Speaking at the D11 executive conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, IAC founder and chairman Barry Diller defended his new venture Aereo as a way to open up what he says is a closed system. Sitting next to CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, Diller explained his motives for being the primary backer behind the technology, “I don’t want to go beat up broadcasters. I want to help move the centricity from fixed line or satellite closed systems to open internet systems. That’s what my interest is.”

But when asked by the moderator what he thought about the service, Zucker told Diller, “I think the key thing is that Broadcasters are going to continue to want to be paid for their intellectual property,” said Zucker. “If you’re offering that in a way that they’re not going to get paid for it I think that’s the issue.”

Diller’s Aereo technology allows subscribers to record over the air broadcast stations for $8.00 a month. The reason Aereo is so controversial is that it does so without paying broadcasters for the right to retransmit their content. Read more

DirecTV May Fight Retrans Fees with Antennas

For viewers, hearing the two words “Retrans fees” can conjure up nights spent not being able to watch their favorite network shows or local news because their cable provider/satellite provider/network/sports network/local channel can’t agree on how much showing the program is worth.

Now, DirectTV is looking to avoid paying millions in retrans fees by adding an integrated antenna into its set top boxes to grab over-the-air signals for free. According to an article in Multichannel news, “retrans fees could top $6 billion annually by 2018, with satellite TV service providers paying an estimated $2 billion of that bill.”

In an e-mail message, DirecTV spokesman Darris Gringeri said no dates for testing are scheduled at this point and that the satellite giant has always had integrated tuners in some of its set-top boxes. He added that the company is “just exploring any options that could help get programming costs under control.”

Multichannel News has more details on DirectTV’s plan. Click here to view the article.

Broadcasters Lose Appeal to Stop Aereo Streaming Service

In a court case that may spell trouble for companies looking to charge a fee for the right to broadcast their content, an appeals court today upheld an earlier decision not to issue and injunction against internet streaming TV startup Aereo.

A group of 17 broadcasters including ABC, CBS, NBC Universal, Disney and Warner Brothers filed two suits against Aereo more than a year ago. One suit was an attempt to stop the service from streaming the broadcasters’ content to its subscribers.  The other seeks monetary damages for what they claim are copyright violations.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a two-to-one ruling, compared Aereo’s streaming device to the DVR provided by Cablevision to its subscribers,

“After a lengthy discussion of the facts and analysis of that decision, the district court concluded that Aereo’s system was not materially distinguishable from Cablevision’s Remote Storage Digital Video Recorder system, which we held did not infringe copyright holders’ public performance right.” Read more

Gannett, DirecTV Reach Retransmission Agreement

Gannett and DirecTV have reached a new retransmission agreement, keeping Gannett’s stations on the air for DirecTV subscribers.

The two parties faced a November 30 deadline to renegotiate their carriage contract. Gannett began warning viewers of a possible service interruption on its 23 stations last week.

Financial terms of the deal, which was agreed on in the early hours of Saturday morning, were not disclosed.

Gannett Warns Viewers of Possible DirecTV Blackout

Gannett Broadcasting and DirecTV are continuing negotiations toward a new retransmission deal ahead of the November 30 deadline.

Gannett said in a statement that the company will continue to work with DirecTV “right up to the deadline.” The station began running crawls and PSAs on its 23 stations informing viewers of a possible blackout.

“Over the past weeks, we have been in intense negotiations with DirecTV to reach a fair, market-based deal,” the statement reads. “Gannett has never had service disruption with a major carrier. However, with the Nov. 30 deadline approaching, we have a responsibility to inform our viewers of the possibility of a signal disruption, which is why we have begun running crawls and PSAs on our stations.”

DirecTV also issued a statement, noting the company hopes “Gannett will not resort to any unnecessary blackout.” Read more

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