UPDATE: Now Time Warner Cable has a response to CBS’ response to TWC’s proposal to offer CBS stations on an a la carte basis: It says ithe effort to revive negotiations was “sincere.” It adds: “We’re disappointed in their lack of responsiveness, particularly to our request for them to quit unfairly blocking the free content available on CBS.com from our Internet customers. We hope they will return to the table to negotiate in good faith on behalf of our customers and their viewers.”
PREVIOUS, 2:32 PM: A more formal response will come later, but here’s CBS’ initial answer to Time Warner Cable’s proposal to offer its O&O stations on an a la carte basis: “Today’s so-called proposal is a sham, a public relations vehicle designed to distract from the fact that Time Warner Cable is not negotiating in good faith. Anyone familiar with the entertainment business knows that the economics and structure of the cable industry doesn’t work that way and isn’t likely to for quite some time. In short, this was an empty gesture from a company that is expert at them.”
PREVIOUS, 12:07 PM: CBS says that it “received Mr. Britt’s ‘offer’ simultaneous with its release to the media. We are formulating our response.”
PREVIOUS, 11:04 AM: Time Warner Cable can offer CBS “on terms of its choosing, with 100% of that price remitted to CBS,” CEO Glenn Britt says in a letter today to CBS chief Les Moonves — the latest effort to resolve the contract impasse that since Friday has left millions of TWC customers unable to watch programming from CBS and Showtime. “This way, rather than our debating the point, we would allow customers to decide for themselves how much value they ascribe to CBS programming.” Since the proposal “is very straight forward, the papers can be completed quickly.” TWC released its news moments before COO Rob Marcus appeared on CNBC for a scheduled interview. He said that a la carte is “the purest way to find out what customers want to pay” for programming. “It takes us out of the middle of it.” Britt also says that TWC would agree to resume carriage of CBS stations and channels “with the new economics TWC reluctantly agreed to during our negotiations, while employing all the other terms and conditions of our recently expired contracts.” In addition to the carriage proposals, Britt asked Moonves to stop blocking TWC’s Internet customers from watching full episodes of programs on CBS.com. “Regardless of the other issues between us, it is surely beyond the pale for you to subject these Internet customers to blocking of content that is made available for free to all others.” Here’s Britt’s letter to Moonves:
Dear Les, In the interests of getting CBS back on our cable systems today, we write to propose that CBS and Time Warner Cable immediately agree to resume carriage with the new economics TWC reluctantly agreed to during our negotiations, while employing all the other terms and conditions of our recently expired contracts. Although those terms are not ideal to CBS or TWC, and would leave TWC and our customers without the digital rights that CBS has provided to others, since both parties have lived under those terms productively for many years, we believe we should continue to live with them in the interest of restoring CBS immediately for the benefit of consumers. Alternatively, if you are unwilling to agree to this proposal, we would also be willing to resume carriage by allowing CBS to make its stations available on an a la carte basis at a price and on terms of its choosing, with 100% of that price remitted to CBS. This way, rather than our debating the point, we would allow customers to decide for themselves how much value they ascribe to CBS programming. In connection with both of these proposals, we would expect you to allow us to immediately resume carriage of your CBS stations (and other CBS-programming services) on retroactive terms as we work out any necessary details. The extension would be ongoing to make sure consumers are not once again held hostage by CBS during this process. We expect, though, that since each of our proposals is very straight forward, the papers can be completed quickly. Finally, we call on CBS regardless of whether it accepts or rejects our proposals, to immediately cease its blocking of CBS.com content from TWC’s high-speed Internet customers. Regardless of the other issues between us, it is surely beyond the pale for you to subject these Internet customers to blocking of content that is made available for free to all others. This is especially so given that CBS uses free public airwaves to broadcast that content and has public interest obligations that it is plainly flouting. In addition, this conduct is abhorrent in that CBS is using this blocking to punish TWC’s Internet customers across the country, including millions of consumers in cities where we continue to carry CBS on our cable systems through agreements with other CBS-affiliated stations; is blocking customers of other multichannel providers, including Direct TV, with whom CBS has no dispute; and is apparently blocking customers of certain other ISP’s, to which TWC provides wholesale Internet services. We stand ready to speak with you immediately to follow up on these matters.