Broadcast vs. Cable: Who Should Win?

In the pricing war between network broadcasters and cable operators, the battle lines are being drawn -- and redrawn. On which side of the fight does TheStreet stand?
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- The pricing war between the Fox network and

Time Warner Cable

(TWC)

-- which had conflicted subscribers running through various cost scenarios -- ended Jan. 1 with a concession from Time Warner.

Time Warner, without divulging details of the discussions, ultimately agreed last week to pay Fox's parent

News Corp.

(NWSA) - Get Report

for its formerly free programming.

News Corp. had been demanding a payment of at least $1 a month per Time Warner cable subscriber for Fox programming. Meanwhile,

CBS

(CBS) - Get Report

was already accumulating fees from Time Warner and

Dish Network

(DISH) - Get Report

. (CBS receives about 50 cents a month for each pay-TV subscriber in some markets, according to

The Washington Post.

)

These were, however, far from the only broadcast-cable operator pricing disputes. One that has yet to reach a peaceful conclusion is the dispute between the Food Network and HGTV versus

Cablevision

(CVC)

and its 3 million-plus subscribers. As of Monday,

Scripps Networks Interactive

(SNI)

has blocked its programming from appearing on Cablevision, pending a response from Cablevision to pay higher fees for rights to the channels after their contract expired at the end of 2009.

In short, Fox's recent victory could open the door for broadcasters to demand as much as $5 billion a year from cable operators, according to

The Post.

As the once-lucrative advertising model loses its luster, many analysts expect broadcasters to increasingly seek alternative revenue streams in the form of charges to cable operators for rights to their programming.

Analysts also say consumers will ultimately pay the price of broadcasters' pursuit of a better business model, as the fees the networks charge cable operators will inevitably be passed on to their customers. Still, these initiatives might not be so bad for those who invest in media stocks, as many of those investors have longed for better revenue-generating tools for broadcasters.

Thus, we ask readers of

TheStreet

: Which side of the battle are you siding with? Do you take a media investors' position, lauding the newfound revenue for your media stocks? Or do you adopt a consumers' perspective, bemoaning the inevitable increase to your cable bill? Take our poll below to see what

TheStreet

has to say.

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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