The arts channel went dark on the No. 2 cable company’s systems yesterday, although Crown Media’s Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel — which were also on the bubble — survived with a last-minute, long-term carriage deal. But Time Warner Cable warns subscribers in an online notice today that there’s no guarantee it will continue to carry several other channels whose contracts expire soon including mainstays such as E!, Lifetime, and Starz, and a bevy of international services. While AMC Networks-owned IFC and WEtv made it into 2013 on Time Warner Cable, they’re still in jeopardy — along with soccer channel GOL TV — as part of CEO Glenn Britt’s campaign to rationalize the company’s bloated channel offerings. Former Vice President Al Gore’s Current TV also remains in danger, although it survived a possible year-end purge. Other channels Time Warner Cable identified as being under review include Encore, Music Choice, News 12, NHL Network, ShopNBC, Smithsonian HD, and Style Network. Last month, Britt said at an investor conference that his company is “going to take a hard look at each service and those services that cost too much relative to the viewership, we’re going to drop them.” With the economy “bouncing along the bottom,” he said that “the consumer is telling us that we can’t afford these prices anymore.”
Ovation hasn’t given up hope of returning to Time Warner Cable, which has 12.2M video subscribers. At year end it presented the cable company with a petition with more than 25,000 signatures urging it to keep the channel. Last month, Alec Baldwin tweeted followers to “take a stand for the arts” by telling Time Warner Cable not to drop Ovation. “The outpouring of support we have seen over the past few weeks demonstrates that the arts matter to people and that Ovation is fulfilling an important role as the only cable network dedicated to the arts,” Ovation COO Chad Gutstein says. “Time Warner Cable should listen to the voices of tens of thousands of viewers, partners, celebrities and arts lovers.”
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