This dispute doesn’t have the titan-vs-titan glamour of Time Warner Cable‘s fight with CBS — where negotiators gave themselves until Monday to agree on retransmission consent terms. But it’s important to a little more than 500,000 Time Warner Cable customers who today find themselves without Journal Communications‘ NBC programming in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Palm Springs; and CBS in Omaha. (TWC systems lost MyNetworkTV in Green Bay and Palm Springs on July 10; the larger stations are covered by an FCC rule that bars pay TV providers from dropping major outlets during a sweeps month.) The companies warned last month that a blackout could take place. The debate revolves around positions that are familiar to anyone who follows retransmission consent impasses. Time Warner Cable says that it is taking a stand against “unreasonable fee increases because we don’t think it’s fair for customers to pay such a huge increase for programming that is delivered for free via an antenna, and online.” And the broadcaster says that TWC “actually sends less than 1% of what you pay each month to Journal Broadcast Group. Ask Time Warner Cable to explain where the other 99% of your monthly payment goes.” The cable company accounts for about 22% of Journal Communications’ viewers, according to SNL Kagan.
The current agreements between Time Warner Cable and a pair of major content providers — CBS‘ owned and operated stations and Journal Communications — each expired at midnight ET Sunday. But in both cases extension agreements have been reached and negotiations are continuing, according to the pay TV giant. A Time Warner Cable spokesman said today that there haven’t been disruptions to service, as sometimes is the case if the sides want to ramp up the brinksmanship in such retransmission-consent negotiations. CBS’ carriage talks cover major local stations in LA, NY and Dallas as well Showtime and CBS Sports Network among the network’s cable offerings. Journal’s talks involve NBC viewers in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Palm Springs; CBS viewers in Omaha; and MyNetworkTV watchers in Green Bay and Palm Springs — a total of a little more than 500,000. The latter negotiations appear to be more heated, with back-and-forth between the two sides coming last week.
The companies are playing hardball on renewal terms for the retransmission consent contract that expires Sunday night. If they fail to reach an agreement then it could affect a little more than 500,000 Time Warner Cable customers, including fans of NBC programming in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Palm Springs; CBS viewers in Omaha; and MyNetworkTV watchers in Green Bay and Palm Springs. The cable company “has refused to reach a fair, market-based deal to carry our stations,” Journal Communications tells its viewers on a website. The company adds that it seeks “a modest increase in fees” from its three-year-old agreement, a period during which “much has changed, including programming and sports content.” Journal’s proposed fees “are less than 3% of what Time Warner charges a typical subscriber for service.” But TWC spokesman Jon Gary Herrera says the broadcaster’s terms are “outrageous” and include a “more than a 200% increase for the same programming they deliver over the air for free.” The cable company accounts for about 22% of Journal Communications’ viewers, according to SNL Kagan.