As if the government shutdown wasn’t bad enough news, Turner Classic Movies was dropped today by the nation’s tenth largest cable provider in a dispute over carriage fees, a move affecting more than 720,000 customers in 19 states.
Cable ONE, owned by the Washington Post Company, removed TCM from their lineup at 12 p.m. (ET) today, along with Turner Broadcasting networks CNN, CNN en Espanol, Headline News, TruTV, and Boomerang. Following this move, according to a message posted on the Cable ONE Facebook page, TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network were “deauthorized” for Cable ONE customers by Turner. Cable One calls this “retaliation for us dropping their less popular programming,” a comment which will undoubtedly irk loyal TCM viewers.
“Turner has demanded an increase of nearly 50% for channels with steadily declining ratings,” CEO Tom Might said in a statement on the Cable ONE website. “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’s comment about “steadily declining ratings” may not be entirely accurate, at least in the case of Turner Classic Movies. At the fourth annual TCM Classic Film Festival in April, V.P. of Programming Charles Tabesh was asked how much pressure he was under to generate higher ratings for the network.
“Zero,” he said. “We don’t get ratings. We’re not even allowed to get ratings.”
Not surprisingly, Turner responded with their own statement.
“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,” the company said. “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.”
Cable ONE serves customers in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, and Washington. The provider, which is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona has said that they will credit customers “for the time these channels are missing” and will “continue to negotiate with Turner to reach an agreement that is fair for everyone.”
This blackout may be tough for classic film lovers, but baseball fans have it even worse. The playoffs start tonight on TBS, with the National League wildcard game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.