Updated: Hearst Television, Time Warner Cable Disconnect over Retrans Dispute

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After extending talks for more than a week beyond the original expiration of their restransmission-consent contract with Time Warner Cable on July 1, stations owned by Hearst Corp. -- save one -- are no longer available to the MSO's customers.

The Hearst Television stations pulled their signals from the nation's No. 2 MSO at midnight on July 10, following an extension of the original contract deadline at the dawning of the month. Negotiations continued during the extension period that Hearst had granted through July 9.

The Hearst stations that are not currently being carried by Time Warner Cable are:  KITV-ABC, Honolulu; WCVB-ABC, Boston; WMTW-ABC, Portland, Me.; WNNE-NBC, Hartford, Vt.; WPTZ-NBC, Plattsburgh, N.Y.; WPTZ-D2 This TV, Plattsburgh, N.Y.; WXII-NBC, Winston-Salem, N.C.; KCWE-CW, Kansas City, Mo.; KMBC-ABC, Kansas City, Mo. KETV-ABC, Lincoln, Neb.; WLKY-CBS, Louisville; WLWT-NBC, Cincinnati; and WTAE-ABC, Pittsburgh.

WESH in Orlando, Fla., carried by Bright House Networks, has also been impacted by the retransmission-consent disconnect. TWC handles programming negotiations for Bright House.

One Hearst station, WISN in Milwaukee, continues to be carried by Time Warner Cable.

Referencing what it says is a large rate increase ask by Hearst, the MSO issued this statement late on July 9: "Tonight, Hearst Television has chosen to black out their signals from our customers rather than continue negotiations, despite their CEO saying just two weeks ago that broadcaster blackouts are unfair to consumers. Time Warner Cable has reached hundreds of agreements with other broadcasters without broadcaster blackouts, but Hearst's demand for a nearly 300% increase is way out of line. That kind of outrageous increase is unfair to our customers and unsustainable for our business. We believe broadcaster blackouts are wrong. Despite Hearst's blackout, we stand ready to continue negotiations and are hopeful that their stations will be returned to our lineups shortly."

On WTAE's website, the Hearst station ran this notice for the MSO's customers: "WTAE-TV's carriage agreement with Time Warner expired at 11:59 pm on July 9. Unfortunately, notwithstanding our best efforts to reach a new carriage agreement, we were unable to do so. As a result, unless there is a change in Time Warner's position, carriage of WTAE-TV will no longer be available to you on Time Warner systems. We cannot predict if or when discussions with Time Warner will resume or if or when WTAE's programming will be restored on Time Warner systems."

In the message, Hearst apologized to the MSO's customers, but "in light of this impasse," urged them to make alternative arrangements for signal receipt reminding that it was still available on other cable systems, while also providing phone numbers for DirecTV and Dish.

Conversely, WISN's Web site indicated that while the contract was set to expire at 11:59 on July 9, the station will remain on Time Warner Cable's air in the interim.

"Unfortunately, notwithstanding our best efforts to reach a new carriage agreement, we were unable to do so. However, Hearst Television has granted Time Warner a temporary extension of the negotiation deadline.

Because of that extension, WISN 12 will continue to be seen on Time Warner cable systems in southeast Wisconsin for the time being. We cannot predict if or when discussions with Time Warner will resume. In light the current impasse, we urge viewers to make alternative arrangements for receipt of our signal. Our signal remains available over the air for free as well as on other cable systems and on satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network."

It also listed the phone number for AT&T U-verse, and pointed users toward information about what kind of antenna they would need if they wanted to receive broadcast channels over the air at http://www.antennaweb.org.

As to why it is continuing to offer WISN 12, Time Warner Cable explained that it has "an existing agreement to provide transport to Charter Communications of the Hearst WISN feed so long as Hearst has provided us retransmission consent, which they have until further notice."

On the website TimeWarnerConversations (http://twcconversations.com/local), the MSO also points subscribers to ways they can see programming "despite a Hearst-imposed blackout" via an antenna and digital TV tuner; national network fare for free at www.abc.com, www.cbs.com and www.mytv.com respectively; some programming for a fee at www.hulu.com; and NBC primetime programming through the MSO's Primetime on Demand service.

Time Warner Cable also informed that it has made arrangements to bring national network programming in from stations, substituing for the attendant Hearst station signal in the following cities:  WLKY in Louisville, with WROC, the CBS affiliate from Rochester, N.Y.; WLWT in Cincinnati, with NBC affiliate WTWO from Terre Haute, Ind.; and  WNNE in Moultonborough, WPTZ in Plattsburgh and WXII in Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem, all with NBC affiliate WBRE from Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

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