Showbiz Sandbox 204: The Argument Over Broadcast Retransmission Consent Fees

After a programming blackout that lasted more than month Time Warner Cable came to an agreement with CBS over retransmission consent fees. Unless the 20-year-old retransmission consent legislation is revised or updated, the number of network blackouts will continue to increase. Unfortunately the real losers in all such disputes are consumers.

The Time Warner Cable-CBS deal was reached just as the new television season is about to begin. We’ll review some new series that have potential and are worth catching, as well as a few you might want to avoid.

Meanwhile, the book publishing industry was in the news last week with Amazon announcing plans to bundle e-books with the sale of traditional print copies, and a new startup hoping you’ll stop buying books altogether and simply rent them.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including declining attendance on Broadway over the summer, Bruno Mars heads to the Super Bowl and a major personnel change at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Showbiz Sandbox 201: Why CBS Is Winning The Battle (And The War) Over Cable Television

For the past two weeks Time Warner Cable has been blacking out CBS networks in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets over a retransmission dispute. Despite losing more than 3 million households ratings on CBS have remained steady giving the network no reason to back down from its demands. With the new television and football seasons set to begin in September Time Warner Cable may have no choice but to cave in to CBS’ terms.

Meanwhile, this summer’s blockbuster movies continue to underperform at the box office with Disney announcing they may have to take a $190 million write down on losses from “The Lone Ranger”. Actor Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have figured out who to blame for the movie’s failure; vengeful American film critics.

After being publicly trashed by George Clooney, activist investor Daniel Loeb was unable to convince Sony to spin-off its entertainment divisions. Even so, Loeb says he’s pleased since the company’s stock price is up and its management more accountable to shareholders.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a lost film from Orson Welles, a new ending for the “Finding Nemo” sequel and the surprising new owner of The Washington Post.

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Showbiz Sandbox 196: Hollywood’s Frivolous Five Year Plan

Hollywood movie studios have a history of announcing the release date for big tentpole films a year or more in advance. The goal has always been to secure a prime weekend that will force the competition to stear clear. Lately however studios have taken to scheduling releases five years in advance. With some untitled projects yet to start production or even complete a script, it appears that release dates are more important than the movies themselves.

With longstanding geographic monopolies in-place cable companies rarely have to worry about competition, other than from satellite providers. That may be why Time Warner Cable is facing a class-action lawsuit which claims customers, especially non-sports fans, are being forced to pay for the company-owned sports channels to help offset the cost of expensive licensing deals.

Speaking of lawsuits, the government wrapped up its anti-trust case against Apple over the fixing of prices for e-books. While the Justice Department went into the trial looking like a winner, in the end Apple may have proved it was innocent of any illegal activity.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including Robert Downey Jr.’s deal to play Iron Man in the next two “Avengers” movies, Billboard disses Jay-Z and Warner Bros. shakes up its top executives.

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