Behind the Time Warner-MTV Tussle

MTV Networks' Jan. 1 plan to pull channels off Time Warner Cable may portend more distribution-fee battles between cable programmers and operators

The free fall in advertising spending and the desperation by television programmers to boost revenues from distribution fees is certainly a major factor in the dispute between MTV Networks (VIAB) and Time Warner Cable (TWC). The standoff will most likely result in MTVN pulling its 19 channels from Time Warner's systems across the country at midnight on Jan. 1. "We sympathize with the fact that [MTVN parent] Viacom's advertising business is suffering and that their networks' ratings have largely been declining," Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt said Wednesday in a statement. "However, we can't abide their attempt to make up their lost revenue on the backs of Time Warner Cable customers."

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