NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Walt Disney Co., miffed by a Time Warner access dispute earlier this month, is launching a roadshow protesting the planned AOL-Time Warner merger, according to a newspaper report Thursday.|
The cable blackout left 3.5 million cable subscribers in New York, Los Angeles, and nine other cities without access to ABC network shows for 39 hours. Many cable subscription services currently deliver not only broadcast material but also provide users Internet access on the same line, and that component is the focus of Disney's pitch, the Wall Street Journal said.
Time Warner said Thursday that it had reached a pact with ABC over retransmission rights.
Disney's (DIS: Research, Estimates) message, according to Mary Morales, executive director of Public Cable Television Authority, interviewed by the Journal, is that the combined muscle of AOL (AOL: Research, Estimates) and Time Warner would create a "Big Brother-type" company. "They said, 'If they can do this to Disney, what will they do to other [Internet service providers]?'" Time Warner is the parent company of CNNfn.
Disney executives have been visiting key California cities that soon will decide on Time Warner applications for permission to transfer cable franchises to the combined AOL-Time Warner, the paper reported.
Time Warner (TWX: Research, Estimates) spokesman Ed Adler, cited in the Journal, retorted "When we have the opportunity to explain how we plan to implement open access and demonstrate our commitment to deliver consumer choice, the communities will be more than satisfied."