Journal Broadcast Invokes 'Sweeps Rule' in Retrans Dispute with Time Warner Cable

Stations Set To Remain on MSO's Systems through July 24

Updated: 22:25 (ET)

The retransmission-consent dispute between Journal Broadcast Group and Time Warner Cable has taken a new turn, with the station owner retaining the position for five of its outlets on the cable operator’s systems for at least two more weeks, via the so-called sweeps rule.

Under FCC retransmission-consent rules, local commercial television stations cannot be removed during a sweeps period. Journal Broadcast said Wednesday night that “we have chosen to remain on the air during the July ratings period, which ends at midnight July 24.”

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

Time Warner Cable said negotiations had continued on Wednesday, before Journal Broadcast brought the sweeps rule into play.

By the FCC’s retrans rules WGBA, WACY, WTMJ, KMTV and KMIR should remain on TWC’s systems through July 24.

The FCC rules, however, do not pertain to low-power outlets like KPSE in Palm Springs, or the sub-channels Journal Broadcast runs alongside Milwauke's WTMJ-TV, which is flanked by a weather service, as well as the Live Well Network lifestyle network, and Me TV in Green Bay.

KPSE and the sub-channels were disconnected when the extension expired at 11:59 p.m. on July 10.

KPSE began carrying a potential removal message during the afternoon of July10, according to Journal Broadcast. Last month, the other five stations in TWC’s footprint also had been scrolling similar messaging, which was halted after the 10-day extension was reached. A Journal Broadcast website is now alerting users/viewers about a potential disconnect late on July 24.

Time Warner Cable has said that Journal Broadcast is seeking a 200% increase in fees for the stations' signals, while the station owner countered by saying that translates into pennies per subscriber. 

Journal Broadcast had pointed out that is has negotiated 140 retransmission-consent agreements over the past six years.