Time Warner Dispute With Sinclair Threatens Network Access

Published by: Kelly Curtis on 29th Dec 2010 | View all blogs by Kelly Curtis
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Time Warner Dispute With Sinclair Threatens Network Access

A contract dispute between Time Warner Cable Inc. and Sinclair Broadcast Group could cause Time Warner cable subscribers in Pensacola, Florida and a number of other cities across the nation to lose access to one of their network TV stations.

The dispute is just one of a growing number of disputes over the fees paid by cable providers to stations to include them in their channel lineups.  The last high-profile dispute which led to a channel blackout happened early this year when Cablevision Systems Corp. customers lost FOX programming for 15 days, including missing two games of the World Series.

In most cases, however, the disputes have been settled in time to avoid blackouts.  In the past, broadcasting companies allowed cable providers to carry their channels for free and made their income from selling commercial airtime.  But competition with cable networks for advertising dollars has intensified in recent years, causing broadcasters to begin charging cable providers for the right to carry their stations.

In the latest dispute, Sinclair is asking for more money from Time Warner to carry its stations, and Time Warner does not want to pay.  If the dispute is not settled by midnight Friday, Time Warner customers will lose access to 33 Sinclair-operated stations in 21 markets.  The stations in jeopardy include Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC affiliates.

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