Time Warner Cable blocks CBS in Los Angeles, New York and other markets

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The ongoing financial negotiations between Time Warner Cable and CBS have finally yielded results -- negative ones anyway. Viewers trying to watch any CBS network via the cable company found those channels blocked on Friday (Aug. 2) afternoon.

Stations in cities like Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Dallas, Chicago and Detroit are no longer available to cable customers.

Viewers saw their CBS stations disappear in fits during the afternoon -- the official outage occurred at 5pm ET. Regular programming was halted mid-sentence, only to be replaced with a blue-hued screen with the following message:

"CBS has demanded an outrageous increase for programming that CBS delivers free over the air and online, requiring us to remove their stations from your lineup while we continue to negotiate for fair and reasonable terms. We regret this inconvenience, but feel it is crucial that we let CBS know that we're willing to do what it takes to keep down the price of TV. There are several ways that you can still see your favorite shows, including using an antenna to get CBS free over the air and online at cbs.com. As a courtesy, we will provide replacement programming from Starz Kids and Family on a temporary basis beginning shortly. Please visit TWCConversations.com/CBS for more information. We appreciate your business - thank you for being a Time Warner Cable customer."

According to the website mentioned in the statement, the following channels are affected for all Time Warner customers:

  • Los Angeles:  KCBS and KCAL-Ind.
  • New York:  WCBS
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth:  KTVT-CBS and KTXA-Ind.
  • Boston:  WBZ-CBS and WSBK-Ind. 
  • Chicago:  WBBM-CBS 
  • Denver:  KCNC-CBS 
  • Detroit:  WKBD-CW 
  • Pittsburgh:  KDKA-CBS and WPCW-CW 
  • Showtime
  • The Movie Channel (TMC)
  • Flix
  • Smithsonian Channel

Over on Showtime, meanwhile, a similar message has appeared in the affected markets:

"The outrageous demands from CBS, the owner of Showtime and TMC, has forced us to remove it from your lineup while we continue to negotiate for reasonable terms. As a courtesy, we will provide replacement programming from Starz or Encore on a temporary basis - check your guide for channel numbers."

Considering that Time Warner Cable likes to sell its premium cable in packages, this probably isn't much of a benefit for most cable subscribers -- they already have Starz and Encore, even without the special offer.

What does CBS have to say about this? Naturally, the network has laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of Time Warner Cable. The following statement is prominently linked from the CBS homepage:

"Yes, that's right Time Warner Cable has chosen to drop CBS from its channel line-up. Don't stand by, take action now and tell Time Warner Cable enough is enough!"

In a FAQ section linked to from the page, CBS further points out that the decision to remove programming was TWC's and that they feel their rate increase is justified. CBS also notes that customers of cable companies are the ones paying for the broadcast networks -- $20 per month in Los Angeles.

An official statement was sent out by CBS within two hours of the outage:

"We deeply regret this ill-advised action, which is injurious not only to our many affected viewers, but also to Time Warner Cable itself. Throughout this process, Time Warner Cable has conducted negotiations in a combative and non-productive spirit, indulging in pointless brinksmanship and distorted public positioning -- such as the fictional and ridiculous 600% increase CBS supposedly demanded -- while maintaining antiquated positions no longer held by any other programming distributor in the business."

Showtime also released an independent statement, expressing indignation at the Time Warner blockade. That statement reads, in part:

"Showtime Networks' customers nationwide have had their services disrupted by Time Warner Cable today, when for the first time in SHOWTIME history a distributor has chosen to remove the network's programming -- despite the network's authorization to allow carriage while negotiations continue. Our customers chose to subscribe to SHOWTIME, and Time Warner Cable in turn chose to pull our service from the subscribers we both serve. Attempts to reach an extension on negotiations were denied by Time Warner Cable, resulting in SHOWTIME going dark in major markets."

Don't expect to watch CBS online, by the way. If you get your Internet service from Time Warner Cable, none of the online videos at cbs,com will play for you. The annoying word "content not available" appear instead.

In a statement published by the LA Times, CBS said that "as soon as CBS is restored on Time Warner Cable systems in affected markets, that content will be accessible again."

Whoever's at fault, it's the customers who have to pay, as is always is when two giant corporate entities butt heads. Hopefully this will at least be resolved before the weekend is out.

Photo/Video credit: CBS, Time Warner Cable
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