TV wars: Cable ONE drops CNN; DISH feuding with WCBI

October 2, 2013 9:58:40 AM

Sarah Fowler - sfowler@cdispatch.com

 

Failed contract negotiations mean the loss of six channels for Cable ONE customers. 

 

CNN, CNN en Espanol, Headline News, Turner Classic Movies, TruTV and Boomerang were removed from Cable ONE's lineup Monday morning at 9 a.m. after Cable ONE and Turner Network channels failed to reach a financial agreement, according to a Cable ONE press release. 

 

"Cable ONE has been in negotiations to renew our contract with Turner Network for the past several months and we have made every effort to reach a fair deal," Cable ONE CEO Tom Might said. "However, Turner has demanded an increase of nearly 50% for channels with steadily declining ratings. Since we were unable to reach a fair deal with Turner, we've been forced to drop these channels from our channel line-up." 

 

Might refused to say how much the cable company pays for the channels. 

 

Other Turner network channels --TBS, TNT, and the Cartoon Network -- were secured by Cable ONE and will continue to be on the regular channel lineup. Might said he is hopeful negotiations will continue and that Cable ONE will be able to offer the six dropped channels again. 

 

While Cable ONE customers are without those channels, WCBI General Manager Bobby Berry said he is trying to ensure DISH customers don't lose the local CBS affiliate. 

 

DISH Network is in the middle of contract negations with several CBS affiliates and has launched an ad campaign encouraging the satellite customers to call WCBI and complain about a potential rate increase. 

 

According to an advertisement placed in The Dispatch by DISH Network, customers will be forced to pay three-times what they are currently paying now based on the financial demands of CBS. In the ad, DISH states, "DISH defends your right to a fair deal." 

 

Berry said the ad is misleading. 

 

"Basically, what this means is DISH network has engaged in a very aggressive, misleading, advertising campaign to Dish customers in the Columbus area," Berry said. 

 

"Three-times what?" Berry asked. "Three-times a penny, three-times a dollar, three-times ten dollars? It's not going to affect your bill. Your bill is not going up three times." 

 

Berry, who is a DISH network customer, said it is his understanding that customers do not pay for local channels. 

 

"You don't currently pay for the service anyhow," he said. "According to Dish's customer service, you do not pay for your local HD channels. So if you're paying three times nothing, you're paying nothing." 

 

According to Berry, television stations enter into either a "must carry" or "retransmission agreement" with cable and satellite providers. Berry said the majority of networks enter into a retransmission agreement which gives the satellite provider rights to the programming in return for financial reimbursement. When it came time to negotiate a contract, a deal could not be met and the time table was extended. 

 

Berry said markets across the United States are dealing with negotiations with DISH. 

 

"CBS in Jackson and Hattiesburg are off the air," he said. "(Columbus) is not the only town or television market that is going through this same battle with DISH. This is going on all across the country right now." 

 

Contract negotiations were extended until Friday morning at 8 a.m. Berry is optimistic that a deal can be reached. 

 

"We feel confident, based on our conversations, that things will be worked out," he said. "But there is no guarantee."

Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.