News Corp.'s Chase Carey tells Sen. John Kerry he's not interested in arbitration with Time Warner Cable
News Corp. chief operating officer Chase Carey is keeping busy today. First he issued a memo to the Fox staff saying he expects the company will tell Time Warner Cable to stop carrying the signals for its local TV stations and several of its cable channels. Now he has written a letter to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), in response to a letter that Time Warner Cable chief executive Glenn Britt wrote Kerry saying that the cable company would be willing to extend its deal with Fox and enter binding arbitration.
For those just tuning in, News Corp.'s Fox wants Time Warner Cable to pony up about $1 per subscriber, per month for its local TV stations including KTTV Los Angeles and WNYW New York (we mention those two because both are in Time Warner Cable cities). Time Warner Cable has offered about 30 cents per subscriber. Both sides are at a stalemate and the current contract expires at midnight Dec. 31. Other channels involved in the dispute include FX and sports channel Prime Ticket, but the debate here is really over the price for the Fox TV stations.
Sen. Kerry last week wrote both Carey and Britt a letter urging them to make peace so viewers wouldn't be denied a bunch of bowl games on New Years Day and other Fox programming such as "American Idol," which returns in the middle of January.
On Tuesday, Britt wrote Kerry a letter saying he'd be willing to extend the deal and/or enter arbitration. News Corp.'s Carey today wrote the senator and said, "We strongly believe this is an issue that needs to be settled at the bargaining table and that binding arbitration all too often looks to the past, not the future."
Carey went on to write that Fox "needs to level the playing field" with cable networks who are able to command big subscriber fees without getting the ratings Fox gets.
Time Warner Cable's Britt said in his letter to Kerry that Fox is making "unprecedented demands for cash compensation for its broadcast signals."
With the deadline fast approaching, it appears the rhetoric is really starting to skyrocket. Fox is gambling that losing some ad revenue and viewers by having its signal go off of Time Warner Cable is worth it if it can squeeze some money out down the road.
-- Joe Flint