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Tablet rumors: TV subscription talks stall, Verizon preps for 'big day'


With just a day to go until Apple's much anticipated media event, tablet rumors continue to swell, with reports of TV networks balking at Apple's proposed subscription plan, and claims of Verizon employees preparing for a "big day" Wednesday.

TV execs oppose Apple subscriptions, $0.99 pricing

According to The New York Times, a number of TV companies were not interested in Apple's pitch for an all-you-can-eat subscription plan. Last year, Apple allegedly pitched a $30-a-month iTunes TV subscription plan, and while one report alleged that CBS and Disney showed interest, some other major networks have not.

"Perhaps smarting from their experiences with Apple, many of the old-line media companies — NBC Universal, Viacom and Discovery among them — shrugged at (or totally dismissed) Apple’s plans for a TV subscription package, according to executives briefed on the talks," the report said. "A person briefed on Apple’s plans confirmed that such a subscription video option was not part of any immediate offering."

But another report has alleged that Apple could have a backup plan, with 99 cent TV show purchases. The Financial Times has claimed that Apple is pushing studios to halve the cost of TV episodes. Currently, shows typically cost $1.99 per episode, but Apple would reportedly like to see the price match that of most songs available on the iTunes store. That report also suggested there has been resistance from the content owners.

"However, networks are resisting the move as they fear a repeat of the music industry's pact with Apple in 2003 to sell individual songs for 99 cents on iTunes," the report said. "The price helped to simplify and boost downloads of digital music but dented album sales."

Previous reports alleged that Apple was looking to offer TV subscriptions as a new iTunes product that could be utilized with the forthcoming tablet. The New York Times report this week again linked the proposal to the tablet, and the Financial Times said the 99 cent pricing plan is an "integral part" of the tablet strategy.

NBC's alleged rejection comes as no surprise, as cable provider Comcast reached an agreement last year to buy the network. Many believe a Comcast-owned NBC would be unlikely to participate in an iTunes subscription plan, because it would be detrimental to cable subscriptions.

The New York Times also noted that its parent company is developing a version of its newspaper for Apple's tablet, and many other print publications have been rumored in talks for months. The report quoted an anonymous person who has seen the tablet as saying that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs believes in old media companies.

"He believes democracy is hinged on a free press and that depends on there being a professional press," the source said.

As has been previously rumored, the report also noted that the tablet will offer persistent 3G data connections and will run "all" applications available for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Apple has scheduled an event to introduce its "latest creation" at 10 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday. The event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Verizon announcement coming?

Another rumor this week alleged that Verizon Wireless has told its store managers that Wednesday will be a "big day." Boy Genius Report cited an anonymous source as stating the nation's largest wireless provider will hold a "kick off" event this Wednesday, centered around a live Web cast at 1 p.m. Eastern time — the same time as Apple's event.

The source did not provide any specific details on Apple, but the timing of the event led the Web site to call it a "solid Apple/Verizon connection."

Last week, a report alleged that both Verizon and AT&T are in 11th hour talks to offer connectivity for CDMA and GSM versions of the tablet. There has also been speculation that Apple could announce a Verizon-compatible iPhone at Wednesday's event.