The Time Warner/CW Squeeze

We’ve touched on this before, with the tough last-minute negotiations to put “CinCW” on Time Warner Cable’s Cincinnati system making us wonder about the commitment of CW partner – uh, Time Warner – to spread the network far and wide.

It looks like we have the answer.

In an article this week in Broadcasting & Cable magazine, B&C’s John M. Higgins details that Time Warner Cable is actually getting payment from the operator of “CinCW”, Clear Channel’s WKRC/12.

A source tells B&C that the Cincinnati CBS affiliate is paying roughly $1 per subscriber – or in the ballpark of $350,000 – to get “CinCW” on basic cable channel 20…where it’ll land later this month. At least some of that money is for advertisements promoting the station.

Since Time Warner owns half of the CW network, why would it extract this kind of money…when you presume it’d be itching to get the system on cable?

The answer, according to the B&C article, is the overall question of network compensation with cable systems.

CBS, the other half of the CW partnership, has made no secret that it intends on getting money from cable systems to carry its stations. This effort the other way, according to the B&C article, is supposedly aimed at sending CBS and chief Les Moonves a “message”, giving the cable side a leg up when those negotiations start taking place.

The other problem outlined in the article is in small markets like Lima, where the CW affiliate is a digital/cable feed provided by NBC affiliate WLIO/35.

There, things have apparently come to quite a battle, if you follow this page on the WLIO website dedicated to it. It contains an overview of the situation, and letters from WLIO’s general manager and even from the mayor of Lima.

It appears that as outlined in the B&C article, Time Warner Cable is asking for cash payment to put the local CW affiliate on analog cable…where WLIO says it just wanted “West Central Ohio CW” to replace the existing “WBOH” WB affiliate on analog channel 3.

It’s another example where “corporate cousins” don’t often behave as much as “family” as you might expect…

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