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CTAM Summit: Carriage Spats Won’t Go Away, Nets Concede

Panelists: Model Not Exactly Working 10/15/2012 2:21 PM Eastern

Orlando -- The carriage fights with content providers that are becoming commonplace in the cable industry are unfortunately not going anywhere, panelists conceded at a CTAM Summit session on Monday afternoon.

“It’s a model that’s not working exactly right, right now,” said Judy Meyka, executive vice president of programming at the National Cable Television Cooperative. “There are problems. There’s a lot more to come.”

DirecTV vice president of programming acquisitions Dan Hartman added: “It’s unfortunate but we spend as much time prepping for the battle as getting the deal done. That’s a bad place to be.”

Part of the hangup is the escalating prices, which sometimes see cable operators being asked to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for broadcast channels that were free 10 years ago. That’s bound to drive innovation to circumvent the process, whether through services like Aereo or mobile DTV, one panelist said.

 “For that kind of money somebody will figure out a dongle that works pretty well and it will flatten out the negotiations again,” Allan Singer, senior vice president of programming for Charter Communications, said. “I understand that things have changed and they now have a dual revenue stream, but these negotiations are just not working.”

Andrew Rosenberg, senior vice president of content acquisition for Time Warner Cable said one silver lining he sees, at least for MVPDs is that since disruptions are across the industry, running to a competing distributor is not a great option for the consumer anymore.

“Everybody’s customers are getting trained that this is part of the landscape,” he said. “The programming community is going be a lot more reluctant to weather disruption if it’s not going to have an effect on the distributor. There is an opportunity for things to settle down.”

One reason the discussions are harder these days is the importance of TV Everywhere to each of the negotiating parties. While TV everywhere doesn’t mean an equal experience for all networks (for example, news or sports don’t on a time delay basis, but it’s fine for an HBO Go), it is equally important to everyone now

 “A few years ago it was a maybe. Now this is important to all of us in different way than it was a few years ago,” Rosenberg said. “I think most programmers now come to the table assuming that TV Everywhere is part of the deal.”

Added Singer: “It’s the slowest part of the deal now because it’s all new,” because sorting through issues of technology, security and consumer privacy all take time.

September