Sinclair, TWC break off negotiations, station carriage in jeopardy


Sinclair Broadcast Group has been locked in retransmission negotiations with Time Warner Cable, negotiations which it has stated all month did not seem to be going well. Now it says TWC is refusing to negotiate further, after rejecting a proposed per-subscriber carriage fee increase of about a dime, without offering a counter-proposal. The stations are expected to disappear from TWC cable lineups as the ball falls in Times Square.

Earlier in December 2010, TWC had rejected arbitration unless a hearing was set up denying the arbitrator access to crucial financial information.

Sinclair said in a statement that it was offering TWC a deal that was equal or less than that agreed to by other TWC competitors, including satcasters DISH Network and DirecTV, and cable operators Charter and Mediacom. It was also asking for less than is paid many lesser-watched cable channels.

“We simply do not understand why Time Warner insists on being treated better than its competition,” stated Barry Faber, Sinclair’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, “rather than accepting our equitable proposal to provide them equivalent or better pricing than is paid by their competition. It is particularly troubling that Time Warner would deprive its subscribers of the extremely popular programming broadcast by our television stations when the monthly per station increase we are seeking amounts to just ten cents per subscriber, an increase made necessary by rapidly increasing programming costs at our stations. With such a small increase we suspect that most of our loyal viewers would prefer that Time Warner Cable, which recently announced a fee increase of $3.00 per month in at least one market, stop acting on its threat to ‘Get Tough’ and we hope that these viewers will let Time Warner Cable know this by switching to alternative video providers, many of which charge less than Time Warner Cable and none of which are currently at risk of losing access to any of the stations involved.”

RBR-TVBR observation: It has seemed all along that some MVPDs have been playing hardball in hopes of getting favorable government intervention, both from the FCC and Congress. Broadcasters must never tire of pointing out that MVPDs want regulatory help when dealing with broadcasters, and at the same time want the government to stay out of it when they are dealing with competing programmers, exposing the hypocrisy and disingenuousness of their stance in this matter for all to see.