After extending talks beyond the original expiration of their retransmission consent contract with Time Warner Cable on 7/1, all Hearst O&O stations except one (WISN-ABC Milwaukee) are dark across the country on the MSO’s systems. Negotiations broke down because, according to Time Warner, Hearst wants a 300% increase in compensation for its stations’ programming on TWC systems across the country.
Hearst stations pulled their signals at midnight on 7/10. Negotiations had continued during the extension period that Hearst had granted through 7/9.
The Hearst stations that are not currently being carried by Time Warner Cable include: WTAE-ABC Pittsburgh, WLWT-NBC Cincinnati, KITV-ABC Honolulu; WCVB-ABC Boston; WMTW-ABC Portland ME; WNNE-NBC Hartford VT/Hanover, NH; WPTZ-NBC Plattsburg NY; WPTZ-D2 -This TV Plattsburgh NY; WXII-NBC Winston-Salem NC; KCWE-CW and KMBC-ABC Kansas City MO; KETV-ABC Lincoln NE and WLKY-CBS Louisville.
WISN said 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.”
TWC issued the following statement: “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.”
Hearst Television’s President, David Barrett, said, “The parties ultimately could not come to terms on fees. The fees we are asking are based on the fees we are being paid (with no disruption of service) by other cable companies in over 150 other recently concluded agreements—this fact is the real measure, not Time Warner’s exaggerated and distorted claims, of the fairness of our proposal.
“This,” Barrett said, “contrasts with Time Warner’s disruptions of service and withdrawal of carriage of local television stations in other cases.
“Time Warner’s characterization of the percentage increase in carriage fees we are seeking is inaccurate. We have sought a reasonable increase consistent with the increased costs we have to pay for our highly valued programming and the carriage fees now paid to us by Time Warner’s competitors. Time Warner is seeking a significant discount of market-based fees that is neither fair nor reasonable.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience Time Warner Cable has imposed on its subscribers and those of Bright House and Insight, and we will continue to negotiate.
“Contrary to Time Warner’s claim, we have not ‘blacked out’ our station,” Barrett noted. “Viewers may continue to receive our stations for free, over the air, or by satellite from DIRECTV or DISH, and, in many areas, from other cable operators.”
On its website, TWC is directing subscribers to ways they can see programming via an antenna and digital TV tuner and online. TWC also has made arrangements to bring national network programming in some of its markets from stations in other cities, including: WLKY with WROC Rochester, NY (CBS); WLWT with WTWO Terre Haute IN (NBC); and WNNE, WPTZ and WXII with WBRE Wilkes Barre, PA (NBC).