Retransmission-Consent Battles Rage On

As of press time on Friday afternoon, CBS and Time Warner Cable were still sparring in their retransmission- consent and carriage battle, facing a deadline of 5 p.m. (ET).

The parties, whose contract expired on June 30, have been trying to bridge their differences in the value of the monthly subscriber fee for the programmer’s properties — 13 CBS-owned stations in eight markets within TWC’s footprint, including WCBS-TV New York, KCBS-TV Los Angeles and KTVT in Dallas-Ft. Worth, covering more than 3 million subscribers, as well as the No. 2 MSO’s nationwide carriage of Showtime, TMC, Flix and Smithsonian.

The contract was initially extended through July 25 and then to 5 p.m. (ET) on July 29. After five more extensions, the stations, Showtime, TMC and Flix briefly went dark when TWC pulled their signals after midnight on July 30. The MSO quickly restored them, upon what it said was the programmer’s request.

Neither party disclosed specific pricing, but both are trying to spin the story. CBS is looking to increase the monthly subscriber fee it derives from TWC from less than $1 per month to $2, according to some reports; the MSO has said CBS has been seeking a 600% hike.

Elsewhere, retransmission-consent battles have resulted in disconnects on three other fronts. Five Journal Broadcast stations in Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisc.; Omaha, Neb.; and Palm Springs, Calif., have been dark on TWC systems since July 25. Another 53 Raycom stations in 36 markets, including Cleveland; Louisville, Ky.; and Memphis, Tenn.; have been off of Dish Network’s air since midnight on Aug. 1

And ICA Broadcasting’s KOSA has not been carried by DirecTV since Aug. 1.

Retransmission has become a key revenue stream for station owners, with SNL Kagan projecting that fees will grow from $2.4 billion in 2012 to some $6 billion in 2018. CBS, having long been the most-watched broadcast network, has chosen an aggressive course when it comes to retrans, recording a 62% rise in payments from cable, satellite and telco TV providers in the first quarter of 2013. CBS is said to seeking up to $500 million in total retrans fees in 2013, en route to $1 billion in 2016, four times its 2012 haul.