CBS chief dismisses Time Warner Cable offer as empty PR

Tue Aug 6, 2013 10:16pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - CBS Corp on Tuesday rejected the latest proposal by Time Warner Cable Inc to end its blackout of the TV network in major cities in a dispute over fees and dismissed it as a "public relations gesture."

Even though both sides urged a return to the negotiating table after weeks of discussions, talks seemed to have broken down, affecting more than 3 million Time Warner Cable customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and other cities.

In a letter released to the media on Tuesday, CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said Time Warner Cable has not reached out to him in any meaningful way to resolve the dispute over fees the cable company pays to carry the CBS broadcast network. CBS has asked for an increase in fees.

On Monday, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt made a proposal to Moonves to sell CBS as a single channel, rather than part of a package, in a letter that he also released to the media.

Moonves said he initially welcomed Britt's letter until he learned it was released to the media at the same time. "It made me suspect that the document was not, as I hoped, a sincere offer but rather a public relations gesture of some kind. Sadly, my suspicions were more than justified," he said.

Time Warner Cable blacked out the network on Friday. In turn, CBS blocked online access to videos on for Time Warner Cable broadband customers.

The blackout has deprived viewers of summer sci-fi hit "Under the Dome" and live sports, such as golf, that air on the broadcast network.

RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank estimated that CBS currently receives $1 a month per subscriber and is seeking to double the amount.   Continued...

CBS chief executive officer Les Moonves arrives at the premiere of CBS Film's "Extraordinary Measures" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, January 19, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok