LIN Stations Go Dark On Time Warner Systems In Retrans Dispute


LIN TV stations on Time Warner Cable systems went dark last night as the broadcaster and operator failed to reach a new retransmission-consent deal at midnight.

“Time Warner’s contract to carry LIN TV's stations on its cable system has expired, and as of midnight, Time Warner is no longer carrying our station’s programming on its cable system,” a LIN TV spokesperson said shortly before 1 a.m. Friday. “We are still actively negotiating an agreement with Time Warner.”

The standoff involves 15 stations in 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 Cable couldn’t be reached for comment.  

But in Green Bay, Wis., Time Warner was running a message to subscribers on the channel slot were it formerly carried LIN’s Fox affiliate in that market, WLUK.

“By refusing us an extension, LIN TV pulled WLUK from Time Warner Cable,” the screen says.

In Indianapolis, the actual operator that had been carrying several LIN-owned stations is Bright House Networks. Bright House has a business relationship with Time Warner, which negotiates its retransmission-consent deals in that market.  

On its Web site, Bright House had its own message to customers about the dispute posted.

“Thank you for your patience regarding the WISH-TV, WNDY, WIIH, LWS and WANE-TV programming,” Indiana Division president Buz Nesbit said. “You may have heard that their parent company, LIN, stopped delivery of their signal to Bright House Networks. We continue to be optimistic that this programming will be restored. In the meantime, note that much of the CBS network programming is available online. My personal apologies for any inconvenience.”

LIN TV’s stations in Buffalo, CBS affiliate WIVB-TV and CW affiliate WNLO-TV, posted a message about the dispute to Time Warner subscribers on their Web sites shortly after the midnight deadline passed.

“Time Warner's contract to carry WIVB-TV and WNLO-TV on its cable system has expired, and Time Warner no longer has the right to carry our programming,” WIVB said on its site. “Please know that we have tried for several months to reach an agreement, so that our viewers would not have to miss any of our around-the-clock reporting of news, politics, traffic, weather emergencies, and public service announcements.” 

The message continued, “We are disappointed in the outcome of our negotiations with Time Warner, especially since we have successfully reached deals with every major cable, satellite and telecommunications company who recognize our fair market value. Without fair and equitable treatment, local TV stations will not be able to continue to provide top quality news, sports, entertainment, and other local programming that is most important to you. We will continue to negotiate with Time Warner. Unfortunately, we do not know if, or when, we will reach an agreement.”

The broadcaster and cable company are at odds over the cash compensation LIN TV is seeking for carriage of its signals.

LIN’s KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, on its Web site earlier this week suggested the kind of license fee that LIN TV is seeking for its stations. 

“We do not believe that a penny per day per subscriber is an unreasonable demand for our award-winning news, sports and entertainment programming,” the broadcaster says. “It is actually much less than what cable companies compensate many of its cable networks, most of which do not have the high viewing of your local NBC station.”

Time Warner contends it should not have to pay for free over-the-air broadcast signals.

The old retransmission-consent agreement between Time Warner and LIN TV

expired at the end of the day Oct. 2

– effectively at 12:01 a.m. Friday.