Time Warner was getting some good PR advice from an unusual source last week: FCC Chairman Bill Kennard. Whether he was playing to the crowd or not, Kennard correctly pointed out that cable needed to make a better case to the public about the increasing costs to them of important channels and the role that price escalation plays in retrans negotiations.
"You and I agree that underlying this consumer perception was, in fact, a legitimate contractual dispute over costs and terms of carriage," Kennard told an NCTA gathering in New Orleans last week. "There is another side of the story." Not telling that side of the story effectively enough was a miscalculation on Time Warner's part, although we get the idea that even Time Warner's PR people may have been surprised by the decision to yank ABC.
Last week, we said that, next time, Time Warner shouldn't pull the plug. To that we add that it also shouldn't pull punches in explaining an impasse in negotiations.