Sports-Rate Fights Kick Off 2003


Time Warner Cable subscribers in Florida and Minneapolis lost the signals for
Sunshine Network and Fox Sports Net North, respectively, at midnight Wednesday
after the MSO failed to agree to contract extensions with both regional sports

In both markets, Time Warner replaced the channels with ESPNews.

Borrowing a page from Cablevision's Yankees Entertainment & Sports
Network playbook, the MSO offered to give FSN and Sunshine their own à la carte
channels -- at a price they would set -- rather than slots on expanded

"The customers who are not fans, who do not watch these games, cannot be
expected to subsidize the fans year after year at escalating prices," Time
Warner spokesman Mark Harrad said.

Before the contracts expired Dec. 31, the operator also offered the networks
a 10 percent rate increase "just to keep the negotiations going forward," Harrad

Time Warner had paid $1.52 per subscriber, per month for FSN North and 90
cents for Sunshine. Fox had demanded a rate increase of about 45 percent, while
Sunshine wanted 60 percent more, a source said.

Time Warner counts about 200,000 subscribers in Minneapolis, where FSN North
was carried, and 1.8 million in Florida, where Sunshine is carried in Tampa Bay,
Orlando and some parts of southwest and northeast Florida.