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Netflix-Showtime relationship shows strain over 'Dexter' flap

March 23, 2011 |  4:10 pm

As the relationship between television networks and studios and Netflix grows increasingly tense, communication is apparently suffering as well.

The latest flap started Tuesday, when Showtime Networks said that as part of a recently completed deal renewal with Netflix that takes effect this summer, it would no longer make original series such as "Dexter" and "Californication" available on the company's Internet streaming service.

Asked to respond midday Wednesday, a Netflix spokesman said that he was not only surprised by the announcement, but that he believed it was incorrect.

"We're perplexed," Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said. "We're negotiating to renew the Showtime license and we expect these titles will still be available."

By Wednesday afternoon, however, Swasey said the situation had changed. "Netflix may or not renew with Showtime," he wrote in an email. "Titles expire and migrate on and off Netflix as part of the ebb and flow of licensing."

The new statement demonstrates a more assertive public position by Netflix toward Showtime and is the first sign that it would be willing to do without the premium cable channels' original programs.

If Showtime does withdraw its shows this summer, it would be in line with the stance of its parent, CBS Corp. In February, the company struck a $200-million deal to provide to Netflix only older programs no longer on the air.  CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves wants viewers to first come to his networks to see the shows the company produces.

-- Ben Fritz and Meg James

Related:

New Showtime-Netflix deal excludes 'Dexter,' 'Californication' and other new shows

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