From our interview with CBS' Marty Franks:
CBS: No HDTV Guarantees For Cable
The network's executive vice president says cable operators must pay "fair market value" for high-def channels or else.
Washington, D.C. -- CBS Executive Vice President Martin Franks says the network will not say it will never force a cable TV operator to remove its High-Definition channels from its lineup.
In an interview with TVPredictions.com, Franks said: "I will not make that commitment. If someone won't pay us the fair market value for our HD signal, I won't commit to (allowing the cable operator to continue to offer the channel to its subscribers.)."
Franks made his remarks in response to a TVPredictions.com commentary on January 25 that said the FCC should order a binding arbitration in a current local station/cable operator dispute over standard and high-def channels.
The Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group pulled 22 local TV stations (standard and HD signals) from Mediacom cable systems this month when talks between the two companies broke down.
The broadcast group wants Mediacom, a mid-size cable operator in the Midwest, to pay for the right to carry their standard and high-def signals. The cable service is refusing because it notes the signals are available for free via off-air antennas.
The TVPredictions.com article on Jan 25 noted that CBS has urged the FCC not to order a binding arbitration, which has been requested by Mediacom. (Sinclair has refused the arbitration offer.) The FCC's Media Bureau has endorsed arbitration, but says it will not require it.
The TVPredictions.com article also speculated that CBS opposed the arbitration because it wanted to preserve the option of withholding the high-def signals at their owned and operated local stations if they ever faced a similar disagreement with a TV provider.
Franks disputed that contention, but reiterated he would not commit to never withholding the network's high-def signals.
Asked if CBS would accept a binding arbitration in a future dispute with a cable operator, Franks said arbitration "should only be for national emergencies such as labor strikes."