Cable One became the second distributor this year to object to Court TV’s proposed license-fee increase and drop the network as a result.
The Phoenix-based cable company took Court TV -- now wholly owned by Turner Broadcasting System -- off its lineup over the weekend, according to Melany Stroupe, Cable One’s director of communications. The cable operator’s carriage deal with Court TV expired March 31, and the network was dropped at midnight Saturday.
Unlike most cable companies, Cable One offered Court TV as part of its digital package, not on expanded basic. Roughly 20% of Cable One’s 720,000 subscribers are digital customers, according to Stroupe, which means that Court TV had been in about 140,000 of the operator’s homes.
“It only affects a small percentage of our customers,” she said Tuesday.
As a result of the dispute, Turner also told Cable One that it can no longer carry TNT HD, according to Stroupe.
“It was kind of an all-or-nothing deal,” she said. “We certainly want to keep TNT HD, but they pulled it.”
As to the situation with the cable company, a Turner spokesperson said, "Despite prolonged discussions, we unfortunately could not reach an agreement with Cable One for continued carriage of Court TV and TNT in HD. As of April 1, these networks are no longer available to Cable One customers. We remain hopeful that we will reach a resolution, but in the meantime, these popular Turner networks are available via a number of providers."
Earlier this year, EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network dropped Court TV over the same issue as Cable One: a license-fee increase.
“It’s a contract dispute,” Stroupe said. “Court TV was asking for, when they were purchased by Turner, a 300% rate increase, which would make it twice as expensive as any of the other channels we carry on our digital tier. So we just couldn’t come to an agreement with them.”
Dish resumed carrying Court TV after about one month, but the direct-broadcast satellite provider reinstated the network on a less widely penetrated tier that it previously was on.
Cable One added two new digital channels, GSN and WE tv, just over one month ago, Stroupe said. But the cable company would like to find a specific replacement for Court TV, she added.
“We want to continue looking for a replacement, if it’s possible,” she said.
Cable One will replace TNT HD with ESPN2 HD by the end of the week, she added.
There have been some calls about Court TV’s absence, “but it really hasn’t been overwhelming,” according to Stroupe.
“Turner is our partner, and we certainly don’t want to get into an ugly war with them,” she said. “We still carry a majority of their products. We still value them as a business partner.”
But Stroupe doesn’t expect the dispute with Court TV to be resolved.
“We can’t seem to come to an agreement or middle ground, so we’re not hopeful,” she said.