Sinclair bracing for battle with Lexington KY cabler


The retransmission contract between Sinclair’s Fox 56 WDKY and cable company Insight Communications expires at the end of the year, and Sinclair is not optimistic about getting a deal done. A possible wild card in this one is Insight’s imminent sale to Time Warner Cable. Interestingly, TWC is listed as an option for viewers should the channel disappear from the Insight system.

WDKY warned its viewers with a detailed not t the top of its website home page. It wrote, “Insight Communication’s current contract to carry this station expires on December 31, 2011, and based on the current status of negotiations we do not believe they will be carrying this station after that date. We do not think it is appropriate to negotiate matters such as this in public and as a result are not prepared to comment further on the reasons that we do not believe a new contract will be entered into. This issue will impact only Insight subscribers and this station will continue to be available from DirecTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable and WOW! and we encourage our loyal viewers to make alternative arrangements to ensure their uninterrupted ability to watch our great programming after the end of the year. Insight subscribers may also want to call Insight in order to let them know that they value this station and will consider canceling their Insight service if this station is not carried. We apologize for any inconvenience resulting from this and will update the information provided to the public on our station’s broadcast and on our website if anything changes.”

The $3B sale of Insight’s cable systems to Time Warner Cable was announced last August. It has been under special review by the FCC, despite gaining swift Federal Trade Commission approval, due to a very small amount of overlap between the two companies in the Columbus OH area.

Sinclair and TWC have locked horns over retransmission elsewhere, but the resolution of other problems has no bearing on the Lexington situation. According to a report, Insight is pushing for the right to carry the station past the deadline if a deal is not reached, something broadcasters are generally loathe to do, because among other things,  the request to keep the station on the system is an admission of its value to the system and its subscribers.

RBR-TVBR observation: It is not uncommon for a television station to warn its audience of a possible disruption of service, so we’d guess that there is still a chance for a deal in this negotiation. On the other hand, TWC has been known to play some hardball.

Suffice it to say that retrans negotiations can be complicated without any additional elements to consider, and this one has a few extra knots to untangle. Although the fact remains that most retrans negotiations are concluded without a disruption, this may well be one worth keeping an eye on.