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Month-long contract dispute between CBS and Time Warner resolved

A month-long standoff between CBS and Time Warner has finally been resolved, which is good news for television viewers in a few major markets. The contract dispute between CBS and Time Warner centered around licensing fees, as CBS was seeking a higher fee for Time Warner to retransmit their content. But, there was also a digital component to the dispute, as each company had a different idea about how CBS' content would be handled online.

The settlement of the dispute is good news for everyone, really. Time Warner now gets one of their major content providers back on its lineup; CBS apparently received a sizeable licensing fee hike (though the exact terms of the deal were not disclosed); and TV viewers will have more options.

However, from a legal perspective, there are two interesting points about this story. The first is about contract disputes in general. When two companies are at odds over the legalese in a contract, or they disagree on how the rights to certain things are applied, it is crucial for the two parties to consult an experienced business law attorney. Both sides will be passionate about the issue and want to get their way; and without a third party in their to handle the dispute, the circumstances could ruin a potentially prosperous business relationship.

The other aspect to this case is the evolving role on the internet in business settings. With television, the content that is produced needs to find a home online, whether that is on Amazon; or Netflix; or Hulu; or some other streaming site. Crafting specialized contracts for these things -- not just for television -- will be a crucial element to business going forward. 

Source: San Antonio Business Journal, "CBS and Time Warner end contract dispute," Mike W. Thomas, Sept. 3, 2013

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