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Why Pay For the Cow?

January 4, 2009 8:32 PM

Even if Time Warner Cable and Viacom patch up their little dispute over carriage fees for “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” the Internet may wind up the victor in the latest cable operator/cable programmer dispute.

Alert

Viacom wants a rate increase and Time Warner is refusing, especially since most of Viacom’s shows are available free online anyway. In fact, Time Warner has no problem telling its customers where to find Viacom’s programs if they’re pulled from the cable system.

“We will be telling our customers exactly where they can go to see these programs online,” Time Warner spokesman Alex Dudley told the New York Times. “We’ll also be telling them how they can hook up their PCs to a television set.”

In a countermove Dec. 31, Viacom outfitted its affected Web sites with an alert warning visitors that shows would be pulled from their online berths as well if the dispute wasn’t settled. Even so, might this latest high-stakes poker game breathe fresh interest into defecting from cable programming to the broadband-powered video lifestyle? Be careful, Time Warner: You could be biting the hand that feeds you.

—Daisy Whitney

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