Ovation in snit with Time Warner Cable over dropping network

Eyeballs equals money in the TV business, and arts channel Ovation was not delivering according to Time Warner Cable.

Ovation has fired back over the corporation's dropping of the network from the line up, releasing a press statement condemning the cablwer behemoth for squandering money over the Suoer Bowl after crying poor to the channel as its reason for the cut.

The full press release from Ovation:

"Yesterday’s NY Post reported that Jeff Hirsch, President of Time Warner Cable, Inc. is co-hosting a party in New Orleans tonight with 150 VIP and celebrity guests. This party comes as a great shock to Ovation, the only cable television channel exclusively devoted to the arts, after Time Warner Cable’s recent decision just 31 days ago dropping them from their network. This is especially alarming when viewed in light of Time Warner Cable’s excuse behind the decision to drop Ovation was economics and the growing cost of programming. A very disturbing thought contradicting all rationale given by Time Warner Cable, Inc. in their efforts to “cut costs.”

“While Time Warner Cable, Inc.’s President Jeff Hirsch is spending his subscriber’s money to party with billionaires, celebrities and yes even celebrity artists at the Super Bowl, Time Warner cable customers cannot see some of these same artists because Time Warner Cable has canceled Ovation,” says Bertha Lewis, President of The Black Institute.  “It has been a month since Ovation the arts network was dumped and less than a week since announcing they would spend $8 billion on the LA Dodgers and raise their rates by 18%.  Time Warner Cable’s “let them eat cake” attitude, says to millions of cable customers we can enjoy artists and the arts, but not you.  When will they wake up and serve their customers by bringing back Ovation? Ovation is the only true arts network left in the entire country.”

Celebrities, arts organizations, urban community leaders and elected officials have come together within the past two months having two press conferences expressing their opposition to Time Warner Cable, Inc’s decision to drop Ovation.  Time Warner Cable, Inc.’s logo “Enjoy Better” seems to stand more for their chief executives rather than their customers."

Time Warner Cable, the second- largest U.S. cable-TV operator, plans to keep scrutinizing and pressuring small cable channels even though they aren't the problem in consumers' big cable bills, the company said today.

"I don't want to say much numerically, but the actions we're taking are not going to dramatically change the direction of programing costs," Chairman-CEO Glenn Britt said on a conference call Thursday with new organizations to discuss the company's fourth-quarter financial results.

"I do hope that we can, over time, improve the perceived price value of the relationship, though, and clearly consumers, particularly people who are under economic duress, are looking at these big packages and saying it costs more than I can afford, number one, and number two, there's too many networks I don't watch and care about. And that's kind of what we're trying to address."

Time Warner Cable dropped Ovation at the end of the year, arguing that it shouldn't pay the arts channel to carry it when few viewers tune in and its promised focus on the arts has waned.

"Obviously sports and other really popular programing keep getting more and more expensive, and that's where most of the money is," Mr. Britt said. "But these networks that hang on and think they have the birth right to carriage even though hardly anybody watches them, those are the ones we're going to be taking a look at."

The company was part of a deal announced this week to secure the rights to air the Los Angeles Dodgers games for 25 years starting in 2014 in a pact worth up to $8 billion to the team.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Time Warner Cable is notifying subscribers that their monthly bills for basic cable will increase 8.2% to $72.50 from $67.


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