Turner networks go dark for Cable One customers
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Oct 01, 2013 | 5551 views |  0 comments | 71 71 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cable One customers were unable to access popular news, sports and entertainment channels today after the provider was unable to reach a distribution deal with Turner Broadcasting.

About 24,000 Calhoun County subscribers were affected when Cable One dropped a slate of Turner networks — including CNN, CNN en Español, Headline News, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, TruTV and Boomerang — from its channel lineup. The move affects approximately 730,000 customers in 19 states.

"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,” said Cable One CEO Tom Might in a statement.

Might said Turner requested a price increase of nearly 50 percent for channels with steadily declining ratings.

Rachelle Savoia, director of communications for Turner, said her company was unable to reach an agreement with Cable One despite its best efforts.

“Turner has a long history and well-earned reputation as a fair and reasonable partner to our distributors, and we have worked diligently with Cable One to come to a resolution, even offering an extension that expired at noon today,” she said.

Savoia said she could not give specific details about the negotiations, including how long the extension lasted.

“We are simply asking that Cable One pay the established and accepted rates already in the marketplace for our portfolio and remain willing to discuss a new agreement that recognizes the strength and value of our networks and the popular programming they offer,” Savoia added.

Cable One attempted to secure the rights to show more popular networks TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network through the National Cable Television Cooperative, of which it is a member. Turner and the NCTC renewed an agreement to provide member companies with its portfolio in March. Trish Niemann, spokeswoman for Cable One, said the company has a valid contract for these three channels at the higher rates, “but to add another 50 percent for these other channels was just prohibitively expensive, and it would have eventually impacted our customers’ bills.”

Turner contests the right of Cable One to get the networks through its NCTC membership.

“Cable One does not have the right to distribute TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network through an NCTC agreement,” Savoia said.

Might said the traditional cable model is changing as customers move online for programming.

“Yet, most cable programmers have chosen to demand unprecedented rate increases in the old model just as it declines,” he said. “Our customers cannot support these unending, enormous rate increases. More are willing every day to try alternate, less expensive ways, to enjoy video in their homes and on the go.”

Cable One announced it will automatically credit customers for the loss of the channels.

In the midst of a federal government shutdown, many local residents have been unable to tune in to CNN or Headline News for coverage of the Congressional gridlock and its effects.

Major League Baseball playoffs began today on TBS, but Cable One sports fans were out of luck if they wanted to see the Cincinnati Reds face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card game.

While Cable One recognizes its customers may be frustrated while negotiations are at a standstill, some locals may stand to benefit.

Marc Spaulding, owner of Heroes American Grille in Weaver, said this afternoon that his restaurant uses Direct TV and will still be showing all MLB playoff games.

“It may affect me in a positive way,” he said of the dispute. “If people can’t see the game at home, they may come out here.”

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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