It’s not just in Canada that networks are leaning on re-broadcasters for money. I read with interest an Ars Technica story called “Fox, Time Warner do battle over monthly subscriber fees.”
In the United States, News Corporation has been pushing Time Warner to pay the same fee for its Fox networks as cable-only networks receive. Time Warner has refused, but things are coming to a head. The contract they have expires on January 1 and News Corporation said they will not renew with Time Warner without a new contract that will give them $1 per subscriber.
Time Warner has asked their subscribers if they want to call News Corporation’s bluff, or pay the fee. Time Warner has made it clear that they will pass the fee along to the subscribers. They’ve created RollOverOrGetTough.com where subscribers can vote and comment, and according to Time Warner, the response has been overwhelmingly to get tough.
So Time Warner will not pay. If News Corporation follows through, Time Warner subscribers will no longer receive Fox networks (including the Fox network itself, Fox Soccer Channel, the regional Fox Sports channels, FX, and Speed).
I can see Time Warner’s point of view. If they pay News Corporation, they can certainly expect every other network to demand the same payment. It was ingenious of them to go directly to their subscribers so they can claim they’re doing what the subscribers want.
No matter what the result, it will not be pretty.