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No Apple TV this year: Media moguls still won't cough up content

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Media execs unwilling to sign a deal with the suits at Cupertino HQ have scotched hopes for an Apple TV in 2012, Bloomberg reports. Wrangles for control in such areas as the user interface have kicked Apple's TV plans into the long grass, and we won't see a TV of any sort in Apple's 12 September reveal, according to the site.

Despite months of rumours about the Apple TV's hardware, it's the legal side Apple is still grappling with. Apple reportedly wants an on-demand TV service – a simple set-top box that would let users watch the shows live or recorded from an archive.

The negotiations with media companies and cable providers have been going on for years, at least since 2007 when the first Apple TV box was released. A CBS exec recounted a few months ago how 2011 negotiations floundered after Steve Jobs started yelling at him.

While the cable companies are generally suspicious of Apple's plans for control, and fear losing their link to their customers, it was arguments over who gets to design the user interface – which includes ways in which the viewer might access other content supplied by the media companies – that scotched this particular round of talks, according to Bloomberg.

There is also friction over who would sell the device: whether it would be available through the cable networks as part of a customer's subscription, or whether it would be on sale from Apple directly, thus cutting out the cable firms. Of the big media firms, Time Warner is said to be the most receptive to Apple's negotiations, but it is unlikely that Apple will introduce a new product if there is no comprehensive deal.

For Apple the importance of the content in a TV device is a no-brainer. Steve Jobs' negotiations with music labels over the iPod was what made the device the runaway success. Cable companies are just proving harder to negotiate with. ®

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