Face-to Face Meetings Fail to End Journal Broadcast, TWC Retrans Dispute

Six Stations Remain Dark on the MSO Systems in Three States
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Despite continued negotiations, the blackout of Journal Broadcast Group stations on Time Warner Cable systems has entered a seventh week.

Six stations in Wisconsin, Nebraska and California have remained dark on the cable operator’s systems since July 25 after Journal Broadcast pulled its signals in a retransmission-consent dispute.

The MSO, which settled a month-long disconnect with CBS on Sept. 2, has said that Journal Broadcast wants a 200% hike in fees for the retransmission of its stations’ signals, while the media company puts the increase at what amounts to pennies per day.

The station owner issued the following statement on Thursday night: “Journal Broadcast Group and Time Warner Cable met face-to-face this week in an effort to resolve the retransmission consent dispute. While both sides exchanged offers, the meetings did not result in an agreement to return the Journal stations to the Time Warner line-up in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Palm Springs, and Omaha.  We will continue to work toward an agreement so that the Time Warner Cable viewers will once again be able to see the quality local news, entertainment and information-based programming on our stations.” 

A spokesman for the MSO on Thursday night said talks have been ongoing with the station owner.

Journal Broadcast and Time Warner Cable’s retransmission-consent agreement was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on June 30, but the broadcaster granted an extension for the signals for six of its stations in the MSO’s footprint -- WGBA (NBC) and WACY (MNT) in Green Bay, Wisc.; WTMJ in Milwaukee; KMTV (CBS) in Omaha, Neb.; and KMIR (NBC) and KPSE (MNT) in Palm Springs, Calif. -- through midnight (CT) on July 10.

The station owner then retained the position for its outlets via the so-called sweeps rule. Under FCC retransmission-consent rules, local commercial television stations cannot be removed during a sweeps period, which in this case ended on July 24. The stations’ attendant sub-channels, though, went dark early on July 11.

On Labor Day, TWC, which on Aug. 2 pulled the signals of 13 CBS-owned stations in eight of its markets, as well as cable networks Showtime, TMC, Flix and Smithsonian Channel across its national footprint, restored the properties to its air. The month-long blackout centered on the parties' differences over the value of monthly retransmission consent fees, as well as control of digital content rights.