LIN Television says it has been unable to come to terms on retransmission consent with MetroCast, so three of its stations will be pulled off of the MSO’s systems in Eastern Connecticut when the current retrans extension expires October 7th. Each side is blaming the other for the breakdown in negotiations.
Unless a resolution is reached by the October 7th deadline, some 39,000 cable subscribers will not be able to view LIN’s WTNH-TV (Ch. 8, ABC) Hartford, WCTX-TV (Ch. 59 MyNetworkTV) Hartford and WPRI-TV (Ch. 12, CBS) Providence, RI. LIN says those cable customers will be deprived of WTNH’s top-rated local news, University of Connecticut sports broadcasts, New York Yankees games and several popular syndicated programs. MetroCast insists it’s no big deal, since its systems will still have CBS programming via Meredith’s WFSB-TV (Ch. 3) Hartford and ABC via Freedom’s WLNE-TV (Ch. 6) Providence. It notes that The Yankees Network is already available to Expanded Basic customers. MetroCast says it will add New England Cable News Network to its basic tier to replace one of the LIN stations.
"We apologize for any inconvenience to our viewers and hope that these viewers will continue to watch our award-winning local news and top-rated programming through alternate means. We have successfully reached agreements with other multi-channel providers including cable operators, telephone companies and satellite providers, all of whom have acknowledged the value of LIN TV’s stations and hope we can reach an agreement with MetroCast soon," said LIN’s Executive Vice President Digital Media, Gregory Schmidt.
LIN is asking people in the affected areas to tell MetroCast that they want the stations to continue to be available. But its iwantwtnhtv.com website is also providing links so they can sign up for DirecTV or Dish Network to replace their cable service.
TVBR observation: What makes this retrans battle somewhat different than most of the past couple of years is that the MetroCast cable systems are in counties at the far east end of Connecticut, where TV signals are readily available from the Providence, RI market as well as Hartford-New Haven. That reduces LIN’s leverage somewhat, but many folks are still going to be upset at not being able to receive an ABC station with news from their own state. Of course, the whole thing comes down to money. And LIN accuses the MSO of misleading the public on that account. "MetroCast is telling viewers that we are demanding 3.00 per month. That just isn’t true, in FACT, we are asking for something closer to a penny a day," LIN insists on its informational website.