Time Warner Cable subscribers that are served by 12 stations are in the dark after the nation’s second-largest cable operator wasn’t able to come to terms on retransmission fees with Lin TV Corp.
Lin TV pulled the plug at midnight after the two parties weren’t able to strike a retransmission consent agreement.
Roughly 2.7 million Time Warner Cable subscribers are impacted by the stalemate in Austin, Buffalo, N.Y.; Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Green Bay, Wisc.; Indianapolis, Terre Haute and Ft. Wayne, Ind; Mobile, Ala.; and Springfield Mass.
Both sides blamed the other for the standoff.
“Time Warner’s contract to carry Lin TV’s television stations on its cable system has expired, and as of midnight last night, Time Warner is no longer carrying our stations’ programming on its cable system,” Lin TV spokeswoman Courtney Guertin said in an e-mail to CED. “Time Warner has known since August that the contract expired on Oct. 2. We previously offered TW an extension and they didn’t accept it, nor even respond. They finally sent their first serious proposal late yesterday afternoon, and we worked diligently beyond midnight to close the gap, but were unsuccessful.
“There is no reason for any TW subscriber to lose access to Lin television programming. Essentially all TW subscribers can receive Lin signals over the air or through another multi-channel distributor and the great majority of TW subscribers can receive Lin television programming three or more ways now and in the future. We hope we will be able to reach an agreement.”
Time Warner Cable is blaming Lin TV for cutting off the negotiations.
"We offered to work through the night to reach an agreement, and they refused," said Melinda Witmer, chief programming officer for Time Warner Cable, which had asked for a short extension to complete negotiations. "“They showed little regard for their viewers and advertisers, and our customers, in their preference to remove the channel rather than work toward resolution.”
Time Warner Cable and other cable operators have balked at paying for programming that is free over the air with an antenna or on the Internet. Without express permission, Time Warner Cable can’t legally provide Lin’s television stations to its cable customers. In exchange for that permission, Time Warner Cable said Lin TV is demanding that its customers pay a monthly fee to watch the channel.
“Lin TV already makes millions of dollars in additional advertising revenue as a direct result of being on Time Warner Cable,” Witmer said. “Demanding more is just plain greedy and our customers deserve better.”
Lin TV has formed a marketing and promotional partnership with Dish Network to encourage Time Warner Cable subscribers to switch over to Dish in the event that the standoff continues.
Lin TV recently reached a retransmission agreement with Comcast and other cable operators this year.
Retransmission consent agreements have been a sore spot for both cable operators and broadcasters over the past few years. Last year Cox Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group were at odds before they reached a four-year retransmission consent agreement.
The American Cable Association has been hard at work lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission in regards to retransmission agreements being unfair for small and medium-sized cable operators.
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