CBS head honcho Les Moonves emailed his troops yesterday, ostensibly to congratulate them on signing a distribution deal with Verizon. The email, leaked widely to the media (of course), was essentially a tirade against Time Warner Cable. Charging that we are “demanding different terms than any other company in the business,” Moonves further claimed that TWC was offered “almost exactly the same deal for CBS carriage to which Verizon has agreed.”
We talked with Melinda Witmer, TWC’s EVP and Chief Video and Content Officer, who oversees the team of negotiators handling the CBS discussions, and here’s what she said about the Mooves missive: “All I can say is, our condolences to Verizon if they signed the deal that CBS put in front of us.”
In an interview posted below, Witmer noted that the deal CBS proposed would roll back customer features like DVR capability, along with other demands that she said would “truly harm our customer experience. I hope for Verizon’s sake they didn’t sign that, but if they did then I’m glad for us because we’ll compete that much better against them when we sign our deal.” You can watch the full interview here:
Witmer’s a tough negotiator, but as is clear in the interview, she’s motivated by getting the best deal for Time Warner Cable’s customers – a deal with reasonable economics, but also the rights to deliver the technology and viewing experience customers want.
On the Moonves slam that TWC lacks a sense of urgency to get a deal done, Witmer said the CBS honcho would change his opinion if he could see the thousands of employees across the company dealing with realities of the blackout and trying to take care of customers. “I just don’t think that he has a very realistic view of our business and certainly not a realistic view of the urgency and dedication with which [TWC] employees are trying to handle this matter.”