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Time Warner Cable changing channel lineups

Time Warner Cable is rearranging hundreds of digital channels in a new lineup coming next month.

The region's dominant cable provider is grouping the channels by category. The information was mailed to Triangle customers last week and is also available online.

The only exception: Channels below 100 in the Basic Cable format will remain unaffected.

"We've added so many new channels that our current lineup structure is not easy for customers to follow," said Time Warner Cable spokesman Keith Poston. "You'll be able to channel surf within certain genres and you'll find channels you didn't even know we have."

Next cable squabble could pit Time Warner against ABC

Another day, another Time Warner Cable fight. This time the dispute is between the cable giant and Disney, which owns ABC.

Alan Wolf over at the .biz blog wrote about it this morning and he has the details of the contract dispute.

The showdown would come at the end of August, which could mean a disruption in ABC blockbusters "The Bachelorette" and "Wipeout," as well as some new summer pilots the network is launching in June. 

Personally, missing my morning Regis would hurt most of all.

Contract fight may bring ABC blackout

There's a new financial feud brewing among two media titans that could disrupt local cable-TV viewers later this summer.

This time, the dispute could knock out ABC programming for thousands of Time Warner Cable customers in the Triangle.

This market's ABC station, WTVD, is one of 10 ABC affiliates across the country that's owned by the Walt Disney Co. And Disney ABC Television's contract with Time Warner Cable is set to expire at the end of August.

Disney and other broadcasters want to collect new fees from cable providers to boost revenue. Time Warner Cable isn't eager to hand over any money for what has been free programming. The battle looms as advertising revenue remains soft and viewers defect from traditional TV fare.

"I think they will likely go toe-to-toe to the end," said Todd Mitchell, an media analyst with Kaufman Bros. in New York. "This is a hard time for both parties."

An ABC blackout would upset fans of popular sitcoms such as "Modern Family," dramas such as "Desperate Housewives," talk shows such as "Jimmy Kimmel Live," sports programming and more.

Time Warner Cable adding new customers

Time Warner Cable, the Triangle's cable-TV provider, reported first-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations as it signed up more customers.

The company, as with its larger rival Comcast, is seeing signs that consumer demand for entertainment is reviving as the economy slowly recovers.

New York-based Time Warner Cable added 378,000 net new customers during the period that ended March 31. That included 212,000 residential Internet subscribers, bringing its total to 9.2 million.

The company's core TV business is facing increasing competition from satellite and phone rivals such as AT&T. In response, Time Warner Cable is pushing harder to sell phone, Internet and digital cable packages.

Cable malfunction airs Playboy on channels for kids

For a couple of hours early this morning, kids watching two channels dedicated to children's television on Time Warner Cable may have caught glimpses of the Playboy channel.

According to Melissa Buscher at Time Warner Cable, adult program previews for the Playboy channel ran in the top right corner of channels 552 and 555 (Kids on Demand and Kids Preschool on Demand).

AT&T's U-verse adds caller ID on TV screens

Your TV now interrupts your regularly scheduled broadcast with a news flash: who's calling you on the phone.

AT&T is introducing a caller ID feature for its U-verse service, a competitor to cable television. When a call comes in, the feature pops a msg on the TV screen, showing viewers who's calling and the caller's phone number.

The feature was activated today for U-verse customers in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. U-verse customers in Charlotte got the caller ID feature last month.

Catch up on Oscar flicks from your sofa

If you're behind on your Oscar flicks and want to be well-informed as you root for nominees Sunday night, you still have time to catch up.

Some are showing in local theaters ("Crazy Heart," "Avatar," "A Single Man"), and a few may still be left in The Red Box.

But you could also grab your remote and On-Demand those babies all night long (you can cry over your cable bill next month). 

Time Warner Cable has "The Hurt Locker," "Inglorious Basterds," "A Serious Man," "District 9," and "Up," all On Demand. DirecTV also has those movies plus "Blind Side" and "Precious."

Time Warner usually charges $3.99 for movies in standard definition and $4.99 in high defintion; DirecTV charges $4.99 for standard and $5.99 for high-def. 

Go ahead. There are worse ways to spend a weekend.

2010 Winter Olympics: It's in high def and on demand

If you're a snow sports junkie, get ready for some pretty unrelenting Winter Olympics coverage from NBC, as they scramble to recoup some of the $820 million they paid for rights to the games.

The network has announced "multi-platform content offering" for the games, which simply means you can get a bunch of Olympics stuff a bunch of different ways.

In addition to watching NBC-owned channels on the regular ole boring TV (like I have), you can also watch those death-defying high jumps in glorious HD (Vancouver will be the first Olympic Winter Games available entirely in high definition), or through instant On Demand access, or over the internet.

Former Progress Energy spokesman returns

Keith Poston, the former public face for Progress Energy before leaving for a PR job in Atlanta in 2006, is back in town working for a new boss: Time Warner Cable.

Poston started with Time Warner on Friday as director of public affairs. He will be the cable company's spokesman for its Triangle operations and will also handle philanthropic initiatives and employee communications.

Time Warner, the Triangle's cable TV service provider, employs more than 4,800 people in the state, including more than 1,000 in the Triangle.

Poston previously worked as managing director for corporate communications at AGL Resources, a natural gas utility in Atlanta. AGL recruited Poston away from his job at Progress and then laid him off last April during a corporate restructuring.

From his utility background, Poston is well-versed at handling public relations issues that vex cable TV companies: rates, service quality and customer service.

Time Warner Cable results impress Wall Street

The Triangle's dominant pay-TV company reported today that recession-weary customers continue to cut back on premium movie channels and videos on demand.

But Time Warner Cable's fourth-quarter results still beat Wall Street estimates. The New York-based company also announced it will begin paying a quarterly dividend of 40 cents a share, cheering investors.

The shares jumped 47 cents to close at $44.09 today.

Time Warner Cable serves about 2.1 million customers in the Carolinas, including 810,000 in the region from Raleigh to the coast.

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