While its battle with Fox broadcasting rages on, Time Warner Cable said Wednesday that it has extended its retransmission-consent agreement with Raycom Media for several stations in the South and Midwest until Jan. 15.
Raycom, based in Montgomery, Ala., has stations in eight Time Warner Cable markets: Honolulu; Wilmington and Charlotte, N.C.; Columbia and Myrtle Beach S.C., Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio. Those stations are affiliates of NBC, CBS, and Fox.
"We have an extension with Raycom until Jan. 15," Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Maureen Huff said. "We expect a deal to be done by then."
Although its negotiations with Raycom appear to be going smoothly, there was a new twist in its ongoing dispute with Fox broadcast stations. According to a report in the Dallas Morning NewsWednesday, Time Warner Cable in that city said that it does not anticipate losing the Fox station there because it has "must carry" status with the cable operator. Other Fox stations in Time Warner markets are not affected.
Fox disputed Time Warner Cable's assumption.
"This is another desperate attempt by Time Warner Cable to retain Fox's marquee programming without providing fair compensation," the company said in a statement. "Fox elected retransmission consent for KDFW and KDFI in Dallas consistent with all applicable legal requirements. Time Warner Cable is prohibited (under the U.S. Copyright Act and the Communications Act) to carry KDFW and KDFI after our current retransmission-consent agreement expires at midnight on December 31, 2009, unless a new agreement is reached."
In a statement, Time Warner Cable said the Fox Dallas stations failed to timely notify the operator of its intention to seek retransmission consent in 2008.
"In 2008, Fox failed to timely notify Time Warner Cable that it wished to negotiate for terms of carriage for its Dallas affiliates, KDFW and KDFI," the operator said in a statement. "Therefore, under FCC rules, Time Warner Cable had no choice but to treat those stations as 'must carry'. Must-carry status requires Time Warner Cable to carry its Dallas Fox stations on its lineup. Time Warner Cable is operating pursuant to FCC rules and will not drop those channels from its lineup on January 1, 2010."
Separately, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt on Tuesday sent U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) a letter saying TWC was willing to submit the dispute to binding arbitration and would agree to an interim arrangement under existing contract terms or "an interim rate subject to a true-up once a final rate is established," as Kerry had suggested in a Dec. 22 letter to Britt and News Corp. CEO Chase Carey. A Fox representative said News Corp. expects to have a response to the letter to Kerry later today.