Markey calls for investigation into CBS blocking online videos

{mosads}Time Warner Cable and CBS were unable to reach an agreement for how much the cable company should pay to carry the network. As a result, millions of Time Warner customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and other markets lost access to CBS beginning on Friday night.

The dispute also led CBS to block access to its online videos for Time Warner Cable subscribers. The Internet blackout affects subscribers throughout the country, even if they do not subscribe to Time Warner for TV service.

Neil Grace, an FCC spokesman, said the commission is “disappointed” that the companies were unable to reach an agreement. 

“Our primary concern remains with consumers and viewers in the affected markets. We urge all parties involved to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” Grace said. 

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said she plans to investigate whether Congress should make changes to the laws governing video distribution.

“It has been my long held belief that consumers should not be held hostage when retransmission disputes break down,” she said in a statement on Monday. “Unfortunately, programming blackouts such as the one underway in eight U.S. markets have become far too common for consumers who simply want to enjoy the programming they pay for each month.”

Eshoo said she will “carefully examine whether changes to current law are needed to adequately protect consumers and prevent the reoccurrence of blackouts.”

In a letter to Time Warner on Tuesday, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves accused the cable provider of “grandstanding” and “bullying.”

He said that CBS offered to allow Time Warner to continue carrying its channels for an additional week during negotiations, but that the cable company refused.

“What we are looking for, have always been looking for, is fair compensation for our content. CBS is the most popular programmer in the world. Showtime has content that is the most sought-after in the business,” Moonves wrote. “Why can’t you see your way clear to honestly paying for what your customers value most?”


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