UPDATE: TCM Blackout Ends for Viewers in 19 States

1The chilly days of late October just got a little brighter for classic film fans.

Arizona-based Cable ONE, the nation’s tenth largest cable provider, announced last night that they had reached an agreement with Turner Broadcasting to restore TCM to customers in 19 states. The classic film channel, along with sister networks CNN, CNN en Espanol, HLN, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, truTV, and Boomerang had been unavailable to Cable ONE subscribers since October 1, following a dispute over carriage fees.

“We’re pleased to be able to restore these channels to our customers, and appreciate their patience and loyalty,” Cable ONE CEO Tom Might said in a statement.

Terms of the agreement were not released.

“We value the relationships with our viewers and thank them for their understanding,” a Turner spokesperson said in a statement posted on the company’s website. “We’re grateful for their continued loyalty and support for Turner’s programming and brands.”

Cable ONE said that the reinstatement of the Turner networks would begin immediately, but might take “several days to complete.” They also announced that customers affected by the blackout would receive a $3.50 adjustment on their November bills.

Turner posted their statement to Twitter at 11:01 PM (ET) last night, in a textbook example of a Friday news dump of a story in which neither side looks sympathetic. Both parties were diplomatic in their announcement, but Cable ONE has been vocal in their anti-Turner P.R. campaign since the dispute began. Might initially suggested that Turner “demanded an increase of nearly 50% for channels with steadily declining ratings” and accused Turner of “deauthorizing” TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network for Cable ONE customers in “retaliation for us dropping their less popular programming.”

cable-one-internetCable ONE has also broadcast commercials about the dispute, and set up an F.A.Q. webpage to voice their issues with content providers (with the provocative URL StopProgrammingHikes.com). One particular vitriolic excerpt: “programming, our most expensive cost, has gone up more than 40 percent in the last three years. As a result, Cable ONE must occasionally make programming changes in response to the outrageous fees that programmers demand we pay in order to carry their channels.” In response to the question of whether or not Turner achieved their reported demand for a 50% increase in fees, Cable ONE said, “We can’t discuss specific deal terms, however we are happy that we reached a deal that provided a better outcome for our customers.”

Cable ONE, a division of the Washington Post Company, serves customers in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, and Washington. Of their 730,000 customers, 600,000 are video subscribers.

Some irate fans have been hoping that the impending release of TCM’s streaming app (unofficially announced in April at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival) will allow them to cut the cable cord and subscribe to the network directly. That does not appear to be the case, however. TCM’s planned app (which was due to be released “Summer 2013″ but still has not appeared) will be available to smartphones and tablets only “after authenticating through your cable or satellite provider.”

For the immediate future, this dysfunctional marriage will continue.

Updated 10/27/13 with states served by Cable ONE, number of customers, and additional quote from website. 

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About willmckinley

Will McKinley is a New York City-based writer, producer and classic film obsessive. He’s been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by host Robert Osborne), Sirius Satellite Radio and the TCM podcast. Will has written for PBS and his byline has appeared more than 100 times in the pages of NYC alt weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News.
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7 Responses to UPDATE: TCM Blackout Ends for Viewers in 19 States

  1. le0pard13 says:

    I have a feeling that app was part of the negotiations. Content providers don’t like anything that goes around their delivery channels (and streaming over the internet is the threat they wish to thwart). Thanks, Will.

    • willmckinley says:

      Michael, you’re right that “digital rights” are a key component in these fee disputes. Cable operators (like Time Warner, Cablevision, Comcast, etc) nationally are rolling out apps that allow their subscribers to stream channels to iPhones and iPads. Content providers (like Turner) look at these streaming apps and (quite rightly, I think) believe they should be paid additionally for allowing viewers to access their content on devices other than a TV set. In addition, networks like TCM are planning to stream their programming in branded apps that are available only to cable subscribers. All of this makes the issue of subscriber fees cloudy, because subscribers can now watch in multiple venues.

  2. Paula says:

    Glad this is sorta sorted. I also approve of your image choices ;)

  3. Whew! So glad to hear those folks have TCM again. I’ve been worried about classic film fans in those states. I’m serious! Thanks for the update

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