Don’t know if I’m reading too much into this. But I found it interesting that COO Rob Marcus — who’ll become CEO at year end — was open to the possibility of advocating a la carte cable pricing in his response to a question in Time Warner Cable‘s Q2 analyst call today. The issue came up as analysts probed for insight into where retransmission consent fights, including the current one with CBS, might lead. Marcus says he favors “more choice” for consumers and added: “Whether that involves one-on-one choice of networks remains to be seen.” The possibility that federal lawmakers or regulators might mandate a la carte is “a separate question.” Execs pretty much stuck to the script that they’re resisting CBS’ efforts to secure a big price increase for its stations and cable channels so consumers, as Marcus put it, “can pay reasonable prices.” CEO Glenn Britt took a back seat in the call, in part because his voice was hoarse — leading one wag to ask whether it was from yelling at CBS chief Les Moonves. “I knew somebody was going to ask that,” Britt said. Execs also tip-toed around questions involving the efforts by Charter Communications and its largest shareholder, Liberty Media’s John Malone, to craft a bid for TWC. Britt says the interest is “an endorsement of our assets.” And Marcus said that whether TWC is a buyer or a seller “the mind-set is pretty much the same, which is creating value for shareholders.”
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