MSG: Time Warner Cable 'Grossly Mischaracterizing' Contract Renewal Negotiations - Multichannel

MSG: Time Warner Cable 'Grossly Mischaracterizing' Contract Renewal Negotiations

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The contract renewal contretemps between MSG and Time Warner Cable continues to boil with the programmer issuing a new statement in response to the MSO's characterization of the negotiations and taking multimedia ads warning subscribers about a possible service drop.

The parties have been negotiating for two years, with the current contract set to expire on Dec. 31.

MSG Media president Mike Bair, pointing to what it bills as Time Warner Cable's record-setting agreement for the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers as evidence that the MSO places a high value on sports programming, notes that the cable operator is a "valuable" affiliate of MSG and one that "recognizes the importance of programming such as ours to its customers."

That being said, MSG said: "Time Warner Cable has grossly mischaracterized our negotiations. MSG has sought only to secure fair and reasonable terms agreed to by other distributors for our programming. Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable has rejected every offer we made to them over the last two years. It is difficult to understand why Time Warner Cable refuses to place a value on our networks consistent with that recognized by other distributors."

The statement responds to TWC's pledge made on Dec. 18 that it would not take take MSG and its sister regional sports network, MSG+ off its air through the balance of the NBA and NHL seasons, offering to pay a 6.5% increase in monthly subscriber license fees.

On Dec. 16, Time Warner Cable dropped music network Fuse. It subsequently indicated that it had almost reached a deal for the RSNs at the aforementioned rates, but the agreement broke down when MSG sought to tie the negotiations to continued carriage of Fuse, which it labels as a "lightly viewed" network, for millions of dollars.

In the more public view, MSG and MSG+ have been airing spots and drop-ins, as well as message on their tickers, alerting viewers to the potential of Time Warner Cable dropping the networks and that they should seek alternate providers so as not to miss action from the retooled NBA New York Knicks and the NHL's New York Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.

Relative to off-air outlets, MSG Media has secured banner ads on targeted websites, and is running spots on radio stations in the New York and Buffalo DMAs, as well as such newspapers at Buffalo News, New York Post and The New York Times.

In the sports section of the Dec. 20 edition of NYT, MSG's ad is topped by images of players from the four local teams and the headline, "Time Warner Cable Might Cancel Your New York Sports."

The copy, in turn, reads: "Starting Jan. 1, if you a Time Warner Cable subscriber you could be shut out of MSG Networks' exclusive Knicks, Rangers, Devils and Islanders coverage. Don't miss any of the teams you love."

Preceded by the logos of Verizon FiOS, DirecTV and RCN, it also indicates that MSG Networks have agreements with other providers, while directing readers to Call 1-888 KeepMSG or go to KeepMSG.com for more information.

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