Ops Want Nets to Get Tiered


Seattle -- Operator executives on a general-session panel during the CTAM
Summit here Tuesday downplayed the tensions between distributors and
programmers, but also declared that they need tiering flexibility and spoke out
against high fee increases and, in some cases, format changes.

Insight Communications Co. Inc. CEO Michael Willner, Time Warner Cable
programming vice president Lynne Costantini and Cox Communications Inc.
executive VP Pat Esser fielded questions from Cable & Telecommunications
Association for Marketing CEO Char Beales on programming-related topics. Later,
they took questions from reporters.

Cox’s contract with ESPN expires next May, and Esser wants a new long-term
relationship and "solutions" that don’t include 20% annual license-fee

Willner said that for a service to be charging "$8, $9 or $10 [monthly] is
not acceptable" for basic carriage. "We would have to put it on a tier," he
added. "If that’s not acceptable, we would have to continue dropping it."

Costantini said Time Warner takes "content clauses" in contracts seriously
and would exercise the rights those clauses permit if it considered network
format changes inappropriate.