Seemingly feeling pity on its paying subscribers affected by the continuing CBS blackout, Time Warner Cable is now offering basic indoor antennas for picking up local CBS stations over the air. Granted this doesn't solve the issue of bringing back Showtime, The Movie Channel, on-demand content and streaming CBS-related media on the Internet, at least a number of customers can finally satisfy their The Young and the Restless craving… for now.
"Antennas may not work in all areas due to line of sight and distance from broadcast transmitters, and require a TV set with digital tuner or digital over-the-air converter to tune channels," the company states.
Due to the nature of the blackout, the indoor antennas will only be distributed in specific areas: Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles/Desert Cities, New York City, Milwaukee and Green Bay. They will also be limited in supply, so the company is now also offering a $20 Best Buy certificate that can be used to purchase any in-stock broadcast antenna at select locations listed here.
"We regret that CBS has put our customers in this position by continuing to withhold its channels," Time Warner Cable said in an email about the antenna offer. "We are trying to strike a balance between our desire to restore the channels as soon as possible and our responsibility to all of our customers to hold down the rising cost of TV."
The CBS network and its related channels went dark on August 2 after the company could not reach a licensing deal with Time Warner. The two have been going back and forth with public tongue lashings ever since, and have yet to resolve their dispute. Time Warner originally pulled the plug on the network channel, Showtime, The Movie Channel and several others while CBS retaliated by blocking its online content from Time Warner subscribers.
For many Time Warner customers, the network channel still remains on-air while the pay channels do not. On-demand content has been blocked, and customers using Time Warner DVRs are unable to record CBS shows. Those residing in the affected areas listed above can't even watch network TV shows like CSI, Under The Dome and daily soaps without installing an over-the-air antenna.
CBS is reportedly asking for a steep hike in re-transmission fees, but the company claims it's merely demanding Time Warner to pay like all other cable operators and streaming media distributors. At the heart of the conflict seems to be a dispute over payment for online content, as CBS claims Time Warner wants for free what Netflix and Hulu are paying millions for.
Time Warner Cable is currently offering the Tennis Channel for free during the two weeks of the U.S. Open tennis tournament beginning August 26. The company is also offering credit to Showtime subscribers retroactive to August 2, and even providing Starz Kids & Family on a temporary preview basis.
Meanwhile, CBS Corp. just signed a three-year deal with Verizon Communications to continue re-transmitting CBS owned stations and the CBS Sports Network on FiOS TV. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"We are very pleased to reach this agreement with Verizon and its FIOS service," said Ray Hopkins, President, Television Networks Distribution, CBS Corporation. "This deal was reached in a short period of time, and CBS has once again achieved fair value for our over-the-air rights. Verizon is a distribution partner of growing importance to us that provides excellent service to its expanding number of subscribers, and we are glad that this partnership will continue and grow."