Policy

Time Warner Cable’s Retrans End-Around

7/16/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Time Warner Cable’s
retransmission-consent
dispute with Hearst
Communications continued
last week, but
the cable company
tempered some of the
damage by importing
broadcast signals from outlying areas.

Hearst Communications pulled the broadcast signals
of 15 stations in 13 markets from Time Warner Cable
at midnight on July 10 after the companies could
not reach a retransmission agreement. The old deal had
actually expired on July 1, but Hearst granted TWC a
one-week extension to hammer out a deal; that proved
to be unfruitful.

Hearst spokesman Tom Campo said negotiations between
the parties are ongoing.

The stations involved were: KITV-ABC, Honolulu;
WCVB-ABC, Boston; WMTW-ABC, Portland,
Maine; WNNE-NBC, Hartford, Vt.; WPTZ-NBC and
WPTZ-D2 This TV, Plattsburgh, N.Y.;
WXII-NBC, Winston-Salem, N.C.;
KCWE-CW and KMBC-ABC, Kansas
City, Mo.; KETV-ABC, Lincoln,
Neb.; WLKY-CBS, Louisville, Ky.;
WLWT-NBC, Cincinnati; WMURABC,
Manchester, N.H.; and WTAEABC,
Pittsburgh.

Bright House Networks’ carriage of
WESH-NBC in Orlando, Fla., also was affected by the
dispute. TWC handles programming negotiations for
Bright House.

Time Warner Cable has managed to soften the blow
for some customers affected by the blackout by arranging
to import network broadcast signals in some areas.

In Louisville, TWC customers can watch Rochester,
N.Y., CBS affiliate WROC, and in Cincinnati the
MSO has made programming available from Terre
Haute, Ind., NBC affiliate WTWO. Customers in
Vermont, Plattsburgh and Greensboro/High Point/
Winston-Salem can watch NBC affiliate WBRE from
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The dispute, as usual, is centered on what the distributor
calls excessive programming rate increases, and
the station owner characterizes as an attempt to receive
fair value for its content.

“The fees we are asking are based on the fees we are
being paid (with no disruption of service) by other cable
companies in over 150 other recently concluded agreements
— this fact is the real measure, not Time Warner’s
exaggerated and distorted claims, of the fairness of
our proposal,” Hearst Television president David Barrett
said in a statement. He said claims that Hearst is seeking
a nearly 300% rate increase are inaccurate.

“We have sought a reasonable increase consistent
with the increased costs we have to pay for our highly
valued programming and the carriage fees now paid to
us by Time Warner’s competitors,” Barrett said. “Time
Warner is seeking a significant discount of marketbased
fees that is neither fair nor reasonable.”

One Hearst station — WISN, an ABC affi liate in Milwaukee
— continued to be carried by the cable company
immediately after the blackout, but as of July 13 that
station, too, went dark. TWC had been able to carry it
because of an agreement it had with Charter Communications
to transport the station to that MSO’s customers
in Wisconsin as long as WISN provided retrans
consent. That consent ended on July 13.

TAKEAWAY

As Hearst Communications
pulled 15 stations from Time
Warner Cable systems in 13
markets on July 10, the MSO
moved to soften the blow by
importing broadcast signals
from other areas.

September
October