When cable companies and content providers are at loggerheads over a new contract, they usually work out a deal without too much damage being done on either side (even it it means extending the deadline several times). That's how many folks expected the impasse between CBS and Time Warner Cable to work out. But the latest quarterly results not only show TWC losing 306,000 video subscriptions during the July-September period, but satellite provider DirecTV gaining 139,000 subscribers in that same quarter. Not all the gains and losses were the direct result of TWC blacking out CBS programming for more than a month, but these numbers are far higher than Wall Street had been expecting. What this does, of course, is provide CBS with considerably more leverage in its future contract deals with other pay TV providers, while at the same time instilling fear within the cable and satellite industries. The wild cards are alternative online platforms that must also work out arrangements with the broadcast providers - and which some consider to be potential cable allies. For now, the landscape is a mess. From LAT columnist Mike Hiltzik:
What it pointed to was an abject failure of telecommunications regulators in Washington, who have stood stupidly by as mergers in the cable industry and between cable firms and content providers put the public interest at risk. Things are likely to get worse before they get better, because Washington responds only to money, and the cable and broadcast industries still have pantsfuls of that. Time Warner Cable showed during the blackout that it feels no responsibility toward its customers when its own profits are at stake. Yet its near-monopolization of Internet data services in the regions where it holds its franchise continues to stand.