T-Mobile pulls speaker from conference amid TVision controversy

Robert Gray, T-Mobile’s senior vice president of entertainment, appears in a social media photo. (Image: Robert Gray via LinkedIn/Graphic: The Desk)

T-Mobile has withdrawn from a streaming television conference taking place this week following controversy over its newly-launched TVision streaming service.

Robert Gray, the company’s senior vice president of entertainment, was scheduled to appear Monday at Fierce Markets’ Stream TV Show conference alongside his colleagues from Comcast, Philo, Roku and other players in the industry.

Gray’s appearance was confirmed by The Desk after a review of cached social media posts on a Fierce Markets Twitter account used to promote the conference.  His name also appeared on a schedule published on the Stream TV Show registration website before it disappeared abruptly last week.

Fierce Markets has not made a public statement about the change in schedule. The move was first noticed early Monday morning by Forbes contributor Rob Pegoraro.

In addition to providing at least one company official for either a presentation or interview at the conference, a T-Mobile executive previously said it had committed to providing financial sponsorship of the Stream TV Show event. It was not immediately clear if the company continued with this commitment.

The schedule change comes after T-Mobile drew public criticism last week from fellow media executives over its new streaming TV service TVision. The service offers two tiers of programming: A $10 a month package of general entertainment channels and a $40 a month package with local broadcast, news and sports channels.

During a conference call with investors last week, the chief executive of Discovery Networks accused T-Mobile of violating a carriage agreement with the programmer because it offered Discovery’s lineup of channels only in the cheaper tier. A source told The Desk last week that T-Mobile was not fully forthcoming with its plans for TVision during carriage negotiations earlier this year.

Sources at NBC Universal and ViacomCBS have expressed similar contempt toward T-Mobile, saying company executives misled them about what TVision was and how channels would be offered to consumers.

Last week, a source at T-Mobile said the two offerings, called TVision Vibe and TVision Live, are separate streaming services with different contractual agreements. Neither tiers include overlapping channels. T-Mobile offers customers the opportunity to bundle the tiers or purchase them separately.