Time Warner Cable customers may lose TV networks

Dec 28, 2010 By ANDREW VANACORE , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- Time Warner Cable Inc. customers from Portland, Maine, to Pensacola, Fla., could lose access to one of their network TV stations because of a contract dispute with Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The dust-up between Sinclair and Time Warner is one of a growing number of disputes over the fees that cable providers pay broadcast stations to include their signals in channel lineups. The last high-profile dispute that caused a blackout came earlier this year when Cablevision Systems Corp. customers went without Fox programming for 15 days - missing two World Series games.

In most cases, however, cable and broadcast companies have been able to avoid blackouts, even if negotiations go down the wire.

Broadcast companies used to allow cable providers to carry their channels for free and made their money selling commercial time. But competition with cable networks for ad dollars has intensified, and the recession underscored how quickly ad spending can fall off when businesses need to cut spending. Now broadcasters see these fees from cable providers as a crucial, second revenue stream.

In the latest dispute, Sinclair is asking for more cash for the right to carry signals from its stations, but Time Warner Cable is resisting the increase.

If a deal isn't reached, 33 Sinclair stations in 21 markets - among them Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC affiliates - could go dark for Time Warner customers after midnight Friday.

However, Fox owner News Corp. has agreed to provide Time Warner with network programming in case a local station operator withholds its signal. That resulted from an agreement a year ago between the two companies to resolve a similar dispute over fees. So Time Warner customers would still get shows such as "Glee," "House" and "The Simpsons," even if they couldn't watch the local Fox newscast.

These disputes have been particularly rough on sports fans. If Sinclair and Time Warner don't reach a deal by this weekend, for instance, college football fans in Pensacola may not be able to watch the ABC broadcast of the Florida Gators playing in the Outback bowl.

Sinclair, which is based in Hunt Valley, Md., said Tuesday that Time Warner has not presented a counterproposal since rejecting Sinclair's most recent offer. Time Warner says it is still ready to negotiate.

Still, Sinclair doesn't have as much clout in these negotiations as the big networks themselves, which have stations in major markets such as New York and Los Angeles and are owned by media conglomerates, which also operate cable networks. Sinclair's stations are located in smaller cities, including San Antonio, Texas, Buffalo, N.Y., and Pittsburgh.

Explore further: Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

2 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Time Warner Cable asks help on rising program fees

Nov 25, 2009

(AP) -- Time Warner Cable Inc. is asking the public for help as it tries to curtail increases in the programming fees it has to pay to carry cable channels and broadcast stations on its systems.

Fox grants 'brief extension' in cable dispute

Jan 01, 2010

(AP) -- Fox and Time Warner Cable extended their contract for a few hours, avoiding a threatened blackout of several stations from the cable provider while the two sides tried early Friday to resolve a disagreement ...

Mediacom, Sinclair averts TV blackout in 11 states

Jan 07, 2010

(AP) -- Sinclair Broadcasting Group's television stations will remain on the lineups of Mediacom Communications Corp.'s cable TV systems after the two companies announced a new fee agreement Thursday to avert a blackout.

Disney, Time Warner make progress on program fees

Aug 29, 2010

(AP) -- Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Cable Inc. said Sunday that they have made "significant progress" in resolving their issues over programming fees with less than a week left to renew a pact that feeds TV channels ...

Recommended for you

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

Apr 17, 2014

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

Apr 16, 2014

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

Apr 16, 2014

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

Apr 15, 2014

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_B
not rated yet Dec 28, 2010
This would just allow those people to have their own game of Survivor, Wife Swapping and other assorted 'reality' entertainment.
Justsayin
not rated yet Dec 28, 2010
Maybe the government should step in and stop the big greedy corporation Sinclair from interrupting its signal all in the name of protecting the public,people, and children. The public servants or politicians can ride to our rescue like a knight in shining armor. Actually we could let the market work and people could switch their cable provider thereby simply and efficiently solving the problem.

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...