Battle for Broadcast Fees Goes Public

By Andrew Gauthier 

The New York Times

The nearly billion-dollar battle between broadcasters and cable operators over programming fees has gone public.

The News Corporation is threatening to remove its Fox stations from Time Warner Cable systems at the end of this week if the cable company does not agree to pay sizable subscriber fees, the same way it does for cable channels. In negotiations, the News Corporation is pushing for about $1 a month for each subscriber, potentially setting a precedent for broadcasters that are seeking a new revenue stream to offset advertising declines.

Time Warner Cable is playing hardball, running an advertising campaign to prepare viewers for the prospect of a January without college bowl games or “American Idol.” The companys so-called retransmission agreements covering Fox’s stations in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Orlando and other cities expire on Dec. 31.

Fights over retransmission affect every person who pays for television, because the fees are ultimately added to monthly bills. It will “without a doubt translate to increasing costs for consumers that buy packages of programming,” said Melinda Witmer, the chief programming officer for Time Warner Cable. More…