CBS’ Les Moonves ‘Frankly Mystified’ by Time Warner Mess

CBS' Les Moonves 'Frankly Mystified' by Time Warner Mess

"Never in my most pessimistic moments did I ever think that they would have lasted this long and have been so difficult"

CBS CEO Les Mooves says he is "frankly mystified" by the slow pace of his network's negotiations with Time Warner Cable.

"Never in my most pessimistic moments did I ever think that they would have lasted this long and have been so difficult," he said in a message to his employees.

Moonves sent the message as CBS reached a new retransmission agreement with Verizon. He emphasized how smoothly the negotiations have gone compared to those with Time Warner, which had blacked out CBS in major markets including New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas.

Also read: CBS Re-Ups Verizon Retrans Deal, Takes Subtle Digs at Time Warner Cable

TWC dropped CBS on Aug. 2 in eight markets in all when the companies couldn't reach a new deal for the cable company to retransmit CBS's signal to its customers.

Here's Moonves' message:

From: A Message from Leslie Moonves
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:04 AM
Subject: Verizon FiOS Carriage Agreement

I am pleased to inform you that today we signed a three-year content carriage agreement with Verizon for its FiOS systems across the country. This important deal was reached swiftly and amicably in just a few days after our conversations began. In it, we achieve fair value for our over-the-air rights, while preserving our streaming rights as well. CBS content will be available to 100% of all Verizon FiOS customers, and we will grow as they do. Our CBS Sports Network will be available on a broader tier, which will add millions of subscribers to that growing business. In short, this is a great deal for CBS and for Verizon, which has 5 million subscribers, the majority in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.   

Those cities may seem familiar to you as you follow our situation with Time Warner Cable. They cover almost precisely the same territory, but Verizon has more subscribers in those markets, where we are now blacked out by that cable company for going on three full weeks now.  You should know that Time Warner Cable has been offered almost exactly the same deal for CBS carriage to which Verizon has agreed.

I cannot describe to you the frustration I feel at the way these negotiations have gone. Never in my most pessimistic moments did I ever think that they would have lasted this long and have been so difficult. In many aspects of the deal, Time Warner Cable is demanding different terms than any other company in the business. I am frankly mystified by what appears to be a lack of urgency to resolve this matter for their customers.

Still, we’ll keep talking. Today’s announcement makes clear, however, if there was ever any doubt, that we are prepared to move decisively and thoughtfully to achieve a good conclusion for all parties involved in these kinds of negotiations. When Time Warner Cable is ready, we’ll be there.

Congratulations to our great negotiating team on this terrific agreement with Verizon, and thanks to you all, as always, for your support.

Leslie