News

Alamo Averted, Lin Fight Continues for Time Warner Cable

10/17/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

Time Warner Cable averted a retransmission consent flap in San Antonio last week, but remained embroiled in a dispute with LIN TV.

The nation’s second-largest cable operator came to terms with KSAT-TV, a Post-Newsweek TV station in San Antonio, which announced the accord on its Web site on Oct. 13. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Their retransmission-consent extension was set to expire at midnight Oct. 15. ABC affiliate KSAT-TV had been warning Time Warner subscribers, through screen crawls and its Web site, that the station could be dropped in that market.

“You will continue to see KSAT 12 and LATV in South Texas on all of Time Warner Cable,” KSAT vice president and general manager Jim Joslyn said on the station’s Web site last Monday. “We welcome this agreement, and we’re pleased that our viewers continue to come first.”

KSAT multicasts the Hispanic-geared LATV service on one of its digital subchannels.

In a prepared statement, Time Warner Cable said it was “pleased to have an agreement in principle in place with KSAT that allows us to provide our customers with uninterrupted delivery of their favorite ABC and LATV programs. We thank our customers for their loyal support.”

Meanwhile, 15 East Coast and Midwest LIN TV stations remained dark to Time Warner Cable customers at press time. LIN is seeking a 30-cent license fee for its stations, while the cable operator maintains that it doesn’t want to pay for broadcast signals that are available for free over the air.

At press time on Friday, spokeswomen for both companies said the parties were “still actively negotiating.”

The LIN spokeswoman noted that customers had found “alternative ways to watch our programming,” including an unspecified number that have switched to Dish Network, which is offering a $50 MasterCard to new subscribers in the markets where LIN stations went dark. She emphasized LIN doesn’t receive “any bounty” on those switch-outs.

For her part, the Time Warner Cable spokeswoman downplayed the notion of major defections. “Generally, our customers have been supportive of this,” she said, noting that the cable operator has been supplying antennas and informing subscribers how to connect their computers to their televisions as a viewing substitute.

Affected markets where LIN pulled its stations off Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks systems are: Austin, Texas; Buffalo, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Green Bay, Wis.; Indianapolis; Mobile, Ala.; Springfield, Mass.; Terre Haute, Ind.; and Toledo, Ohio.

Time Warner said 1.5 million of its subscribers are affected, while 106,000 Bright House customers are impacted in Indianapolis.

Bright House recently surveyed its central Indiana area subscribers about LIN’s decision to pull CBS programming. Of more than 600 responses, 21% said they are watching CBS shows online.

Starting today, Bright House Networks said it would hand out free S-Video cords — which allow video from a computer to be viewable on a TV — in addition to off-air TV antennas.

“The migration of our customers to the Internet to watch their favorite CBS programming is extremely high and continues to grow,” said Buz Nesbit, president of Bright House Networks Indiana. “A high percentage of our subscribers have taken advantage of the free antennas we are providing. Our customers are being quite resourceful and patient, despite LIN TV’s poor decision to pull CBS programming from our system and continued refusal to allow us to rebroadcast its signals to our Indiana customers.”

October