Tech

Time Warner caught sabotaging web television in contracts

By Michael Mayday , Jun 14, 2013 05:42 PM EDT

Intel is seeking to create a virtual cable service which would bundle traditional television channels over an Internet connection, but the initiative is running into heavy opposition by Time Warner Cable and other tv operators.

Those companies are actively offering planting incentives, both beneficial and punitive, in their contracts with smaller media companies in a concerted effort to withhold entertainment content from web-based television programs.

Time Warner Cable's CEO, Glenn Britt, stated on Tuesday at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association show that some of the company's 300 contracts may bar media partners from providing content to online services.

It's no secret that Apple, Google and Intel, among others, are actively seeking high-end content to stream over the Interne. Those companies have been working on devices and technology to allow such instant programming for years. Apple, for example, has long been rumored to be readying a web-based television offering.

But cable companies are opposed to letting any web-dominated arrangement happen out fears of losing reliable customers to new competition. If web-based programming were to occur, one cable executive tells The New York Times, it could very well force cable companies to launch new online offerings to remain competitive. That's not something most cable operators want.

"It's in everybody's mutual interest that we are protecting the ecosystem in a way that continues to keep the value of that programming that we have and the way it's delivered to our subscribers today," Chief Financial Officer of Charter Communications Inc. Chris Winfrey said at the cable association show on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.

Some, according to The New York Times, believe that such terms and actions is anti-competitive, causing the U.S. Justice Department to look into the contractual practices to see if any antitrust laws are being violated.

This isn't the first time that aggressive cable practices over content has caused an uproar. According to Bloomberg, satellite-based companies had a similar problem in the early 90s, when traditional cable companies blocked satellite access to media content companies. That caused Congress to pass legislation 1992 to make for a more competitive field.

Intel, The New York Times reports, isn't planning on letting traditional cable companies get in the way of launching its new service, and planning for a release by the end of this year.

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