Cable TV

CBS-TWC in a tiff over digital services

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MUMBAI: The blackout dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable has shifted from the TV set to the tablet.



In their latest heated exchange, TWC claims that CBS wants to charge higher fees while shortchanging it on digital programming rights that it "has provided to others."



CBS contends that the cable-TV outfit is aiming to get digital rights for free or inhibit licensing deals with newer online rivals like Netflix and Amazon.



The battle between the two companies, which has left CBS-owned TV stations dark in New York and other cities, underscores how the demand for digital rights, including the ability to watch shows on tablets and other mobile devices, is overshadowing the traditional cable bundle.



On Monday, TWC honcho Glenn Britt offered to end the five-day blackout and pay a higher rate - $2 a month per subscriber, up from $1 now - in exchange for video-on-demand and digital rights to CBS and Showtime programming under the terms of their old contract.



In response, CBS head Les Moonves argued that the terms of the 2008 deal no longer apply.



"Those terms and conditions, better known as rights, were established in 2008," Moonves wrote in his rebuttal. "That was before the introduction of the iPad. Netflix was still doing little but mailing out DVDs. Amazon was known simply for selling books."



Moonves wants to protect future digital revenue and doesn't want TWC limiting his ability to sell shows such as The Big Bang Theory to whomever he sees fit.



For its part, TWC wants to protect its turf. It doesn't want CBS giving Amazon preferential treatment to air shows such as miniseries Under the Dome if it's paying huge fees to carry CBS, according to those familiar with the talks.



As one cable executive told The Post, "The program guys want all the Amazon revenue to be incremental, and the cable guys are saying we're not doing that anymore. We want to compete and offer the same experience."

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