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Al Jazeera America picked up by Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks

Al Jazeera America finally has a powerful platform that justifies the last word in its title. Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks announced today that they have reached a distribution deal with the newly launched channel making it available to almost 55 million homes. The New York Times, which first reported the deal, claimed that Al Jazeera America had been plagued by low ratings — with figures below 25,000 viewers — since taking over Current TV two months ago.

It will now have access to Time Warner’s  considerably-sized subscriber base. Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks markets, including key markets like New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas, will feature Al Jazeera America in digital basic over the next six months, according to the press release.

“We said in January that we would consider Al Jazeera America,” said Melinda Witmer, chief video and content officer for TWC, in a press release. “Now that the channel is live, we think that it would be of value to our customers and are pleased to make it available.”

After CBS and Verizon reach a new deal, Les Moonves claims Time Warner turned down 'exactly the same deal'


CBS and Verizon have officially reached a three-year content carriage agreement, which allows for “continued retransmission of CBS owned stations and wider distribution of CBS Sports Network on Verizon’s FIOS TV in multiple markets across the country,” according to a press release.

The deal ensures distribution of CBS-owned stations in multiple Verizon markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, areas that are also home to Time Warner Cable subscribers.

“We are very pleased to reach this agreement with Verizon and its FIOS service,” said Ray Hopkins, CBS Corporation president for Television Networks Distribution. “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.”

This deal with Verizon now puts the spotlight back on Time Warner Cable, particularly after CBS CEO Leslie Moonves sent a memo to his staff claiming that TWC was offered a very similar deal and has yet to move toward an agreement. “You should know that Time Warner Cable has been offered almost exactly the same deal for CBS carriage to which Verizon has agreed,” Moonves said in the memo.

Read Moonves’ entire memo to his staff below:

Al Jazeera America dropped by AT&T U-verse -- UPDATED

UPDATE: Al Jazeera has filed a suit against AT&T after the company dropped the just-launched network earlier today.

Al Jazeera released the following statement:

“Al Jazeera America made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T. Unfortunately AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations. Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America’s rights under its agreement with AT&T — and to compel AT&T to do the right thing.

Al Jazeera America’s strong hope is to resolve this matter quickly so that AT&T’s customers will have access to our unbiased, fact-based and in depth coverage of the news that is important to Americans.”

EARLIER: New channel Al Jazeera America officially launched this afternoon, but many cable viewers won’t be able to access it.

AT&T U-verse has dropped the channel, EW has confirmed. “We dropped the current TV channel, and will not carry Al Jazeera America, on U-verse due to contract disputes. We could not reach an agreement with the owner that we believed provided value for our customers and our business,” an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement.

Time Warner Cable dropped Current TV back in January, and is currently in negotiations to get Al Jazeera America, which they don’t currently offer. A rep for Time Warner Cable told EW, “We’re in discussions.”

Al Jazeera America is the first cable news channel to launch since Fox News back in 1996; it will take over Current TV’s airwaves. The Wrap points out that today Al Jazeera America is available in about 48 million homes, compared to about 100 million for its competitors.

Time Warner Cable hit with class-action lawsuit over CBS blackout


The dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS has prompted a class-action lawsuit by subscribers upset over paying for channels they don’t receive.

CBS and TWC are locked in a standoff over CBS’ request to increase carriage fees for its channels, a dispute that has resulted in CBS being pulled from Time Warner Cable customers’ TV packages (and programming, if TWC is also someone’s Internet provider).

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, three customers charged that they subscribed to TWC service because of CBS-owned channels CBS, Showtime, Movie Channel, and Los Angeles station KCAL but have been unable to access them due to the two-week ongoing coverage blackout.

Time Warner customers file class-action suit against cable provider

In addition to their standoff with CBS, Time Warner Cable will now have to deal with customer complaints in another public arena: court.

Time Warner customers in Wisconsin filed a class-action suit against the cable provider on Thursday, Aug. 8, for dropping WTMJ-TV from the cable lineup, reports the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

WTMJ-TV is based in Milwaukee, Wis., and owned by the Journal Broadcast Group. The channel is also an NBC affiliate (though NBC declined to comment, since the station is not owned by NBCUniversal).

Time Warner Cable removed WTMJ-TV from their programming offerings on July 25. The cable provider dropped the channel from the lineup due to a contract dispute, reports the Journal Sentinel.

EW reached out to Time Warner Cable, but a spokesperson declined to comment.

CBS head Leslie Moonves responds to Time Warner Cable's 'a la carte' offer

CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves has responded to an open letter released by Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt yesterday with his own open letter, which calls Britt’s proposal to offer CBS on an “a la carte” basis both an empty PR gesture.

Contract disputes have left Time Warner Cable customers in New York, LA, and other markets without CBS since Friday afternoon.

Moonves begins by taking a jab at Britt, criticizing him for simultaneously releasing his letter to both CBS’s upper management and the media. He goes on to accuse Britt of “grandstanding” rather than attempting true negotiation: “First, after reviewing your letter, we have concluded that there is not a sincere or helpful proposal in it. It is, rather, a well-wrought distraction.” READ FULL STORY

UPDATE: Time Warner Cable to offer CBS 'a la carte'?

Time Warner Cable has issued an open letter to CBS president Leslie Moonves regarding the contract disputes that have left Time Warner Cable customers without the station in New York, Los Angeles and other markets since Friday afternoon.

In the letter released this afternoon, Time Warner Cable’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt proposes, that in the interest of getting the station back soon, “CBS and Time Warner Cable immediately agree to resume the carriage with the new economics TWC reluctantly agreed to during our negotiations, while employing all the other terms and conditions of our recently expired contracts.” They also propose that they would be “willing to resume carriage by allowing CBS to make its station available on an a la carte basis at a price and on terms of its choosing.”

Finally, the letter asks CBS, regardless of its response to other parts of the proposal, to “Cease its blocking of content from TWC’s high-speed internet customers.”

Update: Here is CBS’s response: “Today’s so-called proposal is a sham, a public relations vehicle designed to distract from the fact that Time Warner Cable is not negotiating in good faith.  Anyone familiar with the entertainment business knows that the economics and structure of the cable industry doesn’t work that way and isn’t likely to for quite some time. In short, this was an empty gesture from a company that is expert at them.”

Time Warner drops CBS, then halts decision

The fee dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS Corp. took an odd turn when the cable giant announced it was turning off the broadcaster in three major cities, then quickly reversed the decision.

The two sides negotiated through the day Monday to avoid a programming blackout. Both parties kept extending the deadline before the cable provider appeared to replace regular programming on the network with a company statement for a brief, undetermined amount of time. READ FULL STORY


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