First Casualty of Carriage Rate Squeeze: Time Warner Cable Dumps Channel Variety

In what is being called the first casualty of a stricter stance on carriage rates, cable giant Time Warner will drop the arts channel Ovation at the end of the year, Variety reports.

The move comes just a couple of weeks after the cable company’s CEO, Glenn Britt, warned that some networks are driving up costs without delivering viewers, as previously reported.

Ovation’s carriage contract with Time Warner Cable expires at midnight Dec. 31, and the network said it is poised to be taken off TWC systems at that time.

In a statement, the network said: "Such an action by Time Warner Cable would negatively impact millions of Time Warner Cable customers who will no longer have access to Ovation's unique arts programming.”

Ovation CEO Charles Segars added: "Our plan has been to grow Ovation as fast as possible in all key metrics. In a few short years since taking over the network, we have achieved that plan."

Ovation is in 55 million homes, the report notes, and has seen its total day household ratings climb 55% year over year.

The report notes: “Brad Samuels, Ovation's exec VP of content distribution, said Time Warner is investing heavily in sports but TW Cable execs have ‘chosen to limit their customers' viewing options by cutting the only arts network in their lineup. … For pennies a month, TWC can continue to offer its customers the only network dedicated to the arts and continue to take part in vital arts and arts education programs for the communities they serve.’"

The piece adds: “Escalating sports programming costs have operators pulling out their hair, but sports still draws eyeballs. Time Warner Cable has invested $3 billion for a 20-year deal to telecast the Los Angeles Lakers games and created L.A.-based regional net Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Deportes for Spanish speakers.”