Broadcaster Media General has filed an emergency enforcement
complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, claiming Time Warner
Cable failed to follow its notification rules in dropping two of its stations
in South Carolina.
The company filed a complaint against TWC for dropping a
pair of CBS affiliates -- WBTW, serving Florence/Myrtle Beach, S.C., and
WNCT-TV in Greensville, N.C.
-- on Aug. 11 from its systems serving Georgetown,
S.C. According to the complaint, Media
General also said TWC plans to drop the stations from more systems Aug. 20, to
make room for other programming.
TWC's Georgetown/Debordieu, S.C., operation carries WCSC-TV,
a Raycom Media-owned CBS affiliate in Charleston,
The cable company counters that it provided ample notice.
"We believe we complied with the law," said Time Warner spokeswoman Maureen
Huff. "We provided legal notice in several forms regarding the drop."
Huff said the company had provided newspaper notice 30 days
in advance, and had served notice on its local system's Web site.
The FCC requires cable operators to inform customers of any
change in channel positions in writing at least 30 days in advance if the
change "is within the control of the cable operator."
Cable systems must also provide written notice to any TV
station at least 30 days before dropping or repositioning a station, as well as
Media General says it first learned its stations had been
dropped when it received a flood of calls from "disenfranchised viewers." The
broadcaster, though, acknowledged that the cable operator did publish legal
notices announcing the move on July 7 and 8 in two area newspapers, and had mailed
a postcard to subscribers Aug. 6.
But Media General said the moves were inadequate, as more
than 75% of households don't subscribe to the two newspapers where the ads
appeared, and because the postcard hardly provided 30 days notice of deletions
that came a few days later.
Huff said the postcard was simply meant to be a "courtesy
notice" following the legal advertisement that provided the minimum 30-day
Media General spokesman Ray Kozakewicz said Time Warner
indicated the stations "were removed in order to free up bandwidth for other
services and programming offers."
Time Warner spokeswoman Melissa Buscher told WBTW that the
issue was about removing duplicative programming to make room for what its
"This issue is about duplicate programming [with WCSC]. WBTW
is an out-of-market affiliate in the Georgetown
County area," said Buscher. "By
removing the station we're able to provide more programming options in the
future to our customers. To include faster broadband and more HD services, and
that's what our customers have come to expect."
Kozakewicz said that at press time the station had received
over 2,000 calls from unhappy viewers, as well as complaint posts to its Web