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Seeking contract negotiation leverage through media

August 30, 2010

What happens when two media titans go head to head?

Over the last two weeks, several radio ads placed by ABC caught my attention.   According to the ads, and the website they directed listeners to – , ABC has been in negotiations with Time Warner relating to the commercial terms of continued distribution of programming.  A quick search turned up a May 2000 wired story on a previous chapter in what looks like a struggle that has been going on for a decade.

As the Sept 2, deadline closed in, the tone and message of the ads changed.   Several weeks ahead of the deadline, the message was simply that the two parties were engaged in negotiations and expected to reach agreement.  Then the message evolved to say that agreement was looking less likely and that ABC viewers should go to the “I have choices” website to learn about other ways they could access ABC programming if not through Time Warner.  The messages stopped just short of encouraging people to dump Time Warner.

What kind of arm wrestling is really going on behind the scenes?

Out of curiosity, I checked the site again today and found that the message had swung to reflect a more optimistic outlook.

Interesting tactic.  I’m sure it’s not the first time this has been employed, but it is the first time I’ve paid attention.

I am surprised that the choices website was so basic.   Why not put up a blog, tweet the blow by blow of the negotiations?   Allow audience interaction.   I’ll bet there are more people who are willing to bash the provider (be it cable or satellite) then the network.   After all, it’s the provider that experiences outages, provides customer service,  passes along rate increases, and is the party to who you write the check each month.

Interestingly, Time Warner played the social card with the which included discussions (although they require name, address and phone to be able to post – really?!) as well as a link to their blog, twitter, and Facebook pages.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2010 4:31 pm

    You are correct, this is not the first time that TW has played this card. When I was a TW customer I found it hard to be sympathetic to their plight.
    Compared to over the air broadcasting that television started with cable seemed such and improvement. Many more chanels were offered and weather never seemed to affect it. The cost to an end user was not too bad until cable companies consolidated into the giant of TW and their pricing structure became a moving target, always in their favor. They always seemed to raise prices without notice and would only make adjustments to those that protested. I don’t know how digital dish is, but I found an alternative to TW and am much happier. So ABC is putting the squeeze on them? Tough.

  2. October 31, 2010 2:07 pm

    Cable companies are already offering bundled internet and cable tv services at a cheap price ~

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