Time Warner Cable still not budging on blocking 19 Viacom channels

Just a reminder – your To Do’s for today, Zoners:

Call Time Warner at 1-800-762-3786 and ask them to say NO to the blackout, and yes to keeping Comedy Central for over 13 million viewers!

Call Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman (pronounced DOH-mon) at 1-212-258-6000 and ask him to get back to the table and stop Time Warner from blocking 19 Viacom channels!

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There has been some interesting commentary today after the bombshell yesterday that Time Warner Cable is scheduled to turn off Comedy Central and 19 other Viacom channels on January 1st. First, Nikki Finke reports that Time Warner was quite unprepared for our phone calls:

It appears Time Warner Cable customer service was unprepared for the onslaught of complaints from subscribers flooding into call centers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many reps were unaware of the dispute with Viacom, which began running news crawls below its programming that 19 channels would go dark on the cable system operation at 12:01 AM on January 1st. Viacom also placed full-page advertisements in some major market newspapers today featuring protests by its media characters, including Dora the Explorer who is shown crying because she is being taken away from her fans, or SpongeBob freaking out. Viacom is even telling viewers they can get Dora or SpongeBob back by signing onto Time Warner Cable’s competitors DirecTV or Verizon. Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable is prepared to refund customers for the lost programming if a deal can’t be reached by New Year’s, though the amount hasn’t been determined yet.

Also, Nikki is reporting that Time Warner is pushing back in its own media onslaught to defend itself against Viacom’s claims.

The LA Times makes a very interesting point about the entire debacle:

Time Warner Cable had better be careful what it wishes for.

Its legal head-butting with Viacom could wind up with Viacom yanking its channels off cable TV in about 12 million homes in LA and elsewhere before 2009 arrives at midnight tonight.

I wouldn’t blubber over a blank screen where “Spongebob” used to be, though I might feel some initial pangs of separation anxiety when it comes to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

But then again, I know that I can always find Stewart’s and Colbert’s best bits online. And that’s Time Warner’s dangerous gamble — that people can learn to live without what it’s selling. I already have, to some extent. When Time Warner pulled Turner Classic Movies from its basic cable lineup — in Hollywood, no less! — and substituted the Golf Channel, I didn’t bite and upgrade to premium. I’ve ended up buying a lot of the black and white classic films I love, and can now watch them on my schedule, not Time Warner’s.

See, here’s the thing. The shows I watch on network TV – Chuck, Ugly Betty, The Office – all come out on DVD. Which, in theory, I can rent from Netflix at the end of the season. The shows I watch on cable – The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Southpark – are all free and available on Hulu and Comedy Central’s official sites. In theory, like the LA Times columnist states, I don’t need Time Warner at all. Now my husband likes to watch sports and other live events, and the inconveniece of no cable would be greater for him than for me. But it is possible, that’s all I’m saying.

And don’t Time Warner and Viacom realized that a) the economy is in the toilet, b) cable TV is a luxury with so much available online and DVD rental, and c) people are looking to cut corners as their paychecks and disposable income is quickly dwindling? As one of the commenters stated before, Just give me an excuse to cancel you, Time Warner. Just do it.

And for God’s sake, Viacom, get back to the table, stop whining, suck it up and find a way to keep your shows on the air before the advertisers already start running from an already weakening cable advertising structure. No advertising means no ‘Colbert Report’ even online, which makes me extremely cranky. There’s got to be a better way to resolve this than ticking off 13 million Viacom viewers.

This threat is not just Time Warner’s fault, and not just Viacom’s fault. This is a team effort in the potential for major FAIL. Get on it bigwigs – surely one of you gets paid enough to be able to have the authority to get this mess sorted out before the fans get ugly.


  1. This won’t affect me, if only for the fact that I cancelled my Time Warner service last month because of the ridiculous cost and the fact that I am a poor poor college student. I’ve been surviving off my Hulu and *gasp* not watching television! It still is insane what’s going on though.

    Where I live, Time Warner is about the only cable provider. Not to mention the provider for all of the dorms in my university, Ohio State. Do you know how many thousands of people live in those dorms? And how many tens of thousands of students there are in Columbus? 52,000 undergrads alone. And we all know the demos for MTV and CC… Bad, bad idea.

  2. DB you need to be following TWC’s PR Coordinator on Twitter (I suggested she follow you) http://twitter.com/MsmarTWC

    Maybe you can DM her and let her know how we all feel?

  3. Exactly! Like I said earlier, they are hanging themselves. This dumb move is akin to killing the goose that laid the golden eggs: it creates VERY negative PR and bad will for customers, some of whom will have to cancel cable due to the economy and layoffs anyway. And Viacom is being a bonehead demanding more money in this environment. Ultimately both shows stand to lose big in ratings if pulled off the air, some viewers never come back. Our TCR love is boundless but TV is not housing, food and water and the fat cats who live in their mansions just don’t get it – it is expendable. Meanwhile the FCC should be looking at breaking these monopolies.

  4. I was considering cancelling my cable even before this happened. The only things I watch on cable these days do indeed come out on DVD or are available online. I hate watching TV on my teeny laptop screen, but I’d deal.

  5. wildlymissingthemark says:

    I am really sorry to all of you who are losing cc as a result of this corporate nonsense.

    eventually time warner will have to work things out because they will lose customers.

    but i think viacom needs to get its act together and stop resorting to these rash acts, they already have a bad reputation and this is not helping things at all.

  6. Look TimeWarner and Viacom! Just make a deal. Keep your subscribers happy. I really hope they end this soon so that no more damage of any kind will be done. Yes, Viacom already has a bad reputation. Is it me or are they just trying to suck money out of everyone who really doesn’t have money now?

    Even ReCaptcha has an opinion on this
    “forespelng GLOOM”
    and “papers shout”.

    I sure hope that the GLOOM is stopped before papers begin to “shout”.

  7. looks like online content doesnt look good either…


    here is a quote:

    It’s that phrase “and online” that’s really troubling. What does Viacom mean by that? If the statement’s true and not just a scare tactic, then it either means:

    1) They’re going to take all their video content off the Web and ruin it for everybody.

    2) They’re somehow going to block Time Warner Cable / Bright House/ Roadrunner subscribers only from seeing their free video content, probably by blocking a range of IP addresses.

    Internal conversations here at Time Warner Cable indicate that Viacom’s going to do the latter: block our customers from the same full Web experience that they provide everyone else for free.

    • Spoon at a Spork Fight says:

      Ew. So this stupid corporate fight is gonna jack even us frugal souls who only use Time Warner for internet access? Well hell, the Verizon Fios guy was in my building last weekend . . . don’t think I won’t do it TW.

      Edit to Add: The TW # is busy; hopefully that’s a good sign.

    • That nearly made me soil myself until I remebered we have our internet service through Cincinnati Bell and not TWC. PHEW! I don’t see a quick resolution to this. It took TWC a ridiculous amount of time to reach an agreement with The Big 10 Network and neither TWC nor Viacom appears to be willing to budge at all on this. Jerks.

    • Hm… That might be an interesting question if it was adjudicated it the courts since the web is something totally different than TV – for one company to block or tamper with access based on the originating IP address – would that be legal? Say Google just feel like blocking everyone originating from AT&T IP’s… and how would it work out since AT&T also carries 3rd party DSL lines… Could someone distinguish between traffic originating on DSL lines as opposed to cable lines?… Would that be legal under commerce and telecommunications laws?…

      Actually, that sort of thing should be worked out because I bet it’ll come up at some point. I think it did in the context of carriers wanting to give preference to traffic originating from themselves as opposed to other parties, which strikes like monopoly business practices…

      I’ve got less than a couple of hours to see if anything goes blank on my TV and I will be quite pissed if it does.

  8. As of 14:00 PST the TWC number keeps ringing bust and the Viacom number says they can’t find the name of DOH!-mon… and no operator or V-mail picks up…

  9. As of 14:00 PST the TWC number keeps ringing busy and the Viacom number says they can’t find the name of DOH!-mon… and no operator or V-mail picks up…

  10. Will it do any good for non-customers to call?

  11. Oh, also people–iTunes! It’s cheaper than cable and no ads, and a better picture than online.

  12. thatguyagain says:

    Annnnnnnnnnnd it’s over:

    The two sides had threatened blackout that included Comedy Central, MTV

    LOS ANGELES – Time Warner Cable Inc. said it has reached a deal with Viacom Inc. on carriage fees, avoiding a blackout of 19 cable channels including MTV and Comedy Central.

    The two sides, citing disagreement over fee hikes, had threatened a damaging blackout at midnight that would have cut off shows such as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “The Colbert Report” to about 15.7 million subscribers.

    Shortly after agreeing to extend a midnight deadline by an hour, Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley said the sides agreed on a new contract.”

    (excerpted from AP wire)

  13. somuch2kno says:

    Well, it’s 1:50am – Happy New Year, Zoners! – and I’ve still got Comedy Central (and all the other so-much-less-important Viacom stations), and it’s showing promos hyping non-repeat TDS and TCR. WooHoo!

    Both the TWC and Viacom sites are still featuring those “we’re-so-innocent, it’s-the-other-guys-who-are-aren’t-playing-nicely” official statements. And they can do that as long as they like, as long as I get fresh meat on January 5th!

    Let’s see what the morning brings.

  14. They reached at deal. Whew.


    “LOS ANGELES – Time Warner Cable Inc. said Wednesday it reached a deal with Viacom Inc. on carriage fees, avoiding a blackout of 19 cable channels including MTV and Comedy Central.

    The two sides, citing disagreement over fee hikes, had threatened a damaging blackout at midnight Eastern time that would have cut off shows such as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “The Colbert Report” to about 15.7 million subscribers.

    Shortly after agreeing to extend a midnight deadline by an hour, Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley said the sides agreed on a new contract.
    The handshake deal meant the channels will not go dark and a joint statement was expected within the hour, Dudley said.”

  15. They have a deal:


    Happy New Year, Zoners! Hope those hangovers are a little less painful now.

  16. Wow. I stand corrected. They actually reached an agreement by the deadline. I thought for sure this would drag on for awhile. I guess TWC finally realized they would be shooting themselves in the foot. I’m still disgusted with both companies and I’m going to keep talking to my husband about cancelling our TWC subscription when our contract expires.

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