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Networks skeptical of Apple's push for $1 iTunes TV episodes

As Apple hopes to sell some TV episodes for 99 cents through iTunes, major networks have responded with apprehension to the plan, which could alienate local affiliates and cable providers.

According to The New York Times, Apple's plan has been met with skepticism from major networks, but that doesn't mean they aren't listening. "We're willing to try anything," one anonymous TV network executive was quoted as saying, "but the key word is 'try.'"

The news follows last week's announcement from CBS CEO Les Moonves, that his network was considering a price drop to 99 cents per episode for certain TV shows.

But as networks consider the plan, they must also factor in their existing lucrative deals with local cable providers and affiliates. Those partners stand to lose out considerably if iTunes TV sales take away viewers.

The Times noted that the business of TV episode sales is still new, and relatively small. As Apple counts down to 10 billion songs sold on the iTunes Music Store, an estimated 375 million TV episodes have been sold since they were first made available in 2005. In addition, revenue from iTunes is said to have been "marginal" for producers and distributors.

Apple's push for lower prices is connected to the forthcoming launch of the iPad, due to arrive by the end of March. In fact, the Times said some TV executives anonymously said the Cupertino, Calif., company is "desperate" to line up content for the iPad to ensure its success.

The report also noted that Apple is still pushing a $30-per-month TV show subscription plan, which is said to still be on the negotiating table with networks. Apple's subscription proposal was first revealed last November, and would reportedly include an all-you-can-eat download plan that would compete with cable.