Time Warner Cable may be able to outFox Sinclair


Sinclair Broadcast Group is not expecting that Time Warner Cable will come to terms to carry its broadcast television stations before the 12/31/10 deadline expires. And it turns out that TWC’s earlier agreement with Fox Television gives it access to Fox programming, whether or not it has a deal with a local broadcast outlet.

According to reports, TWC says it will continue to be able to provide popular Fox programming, and will have access to the feed for the next Super Bowl.

TWC would not have access to the bulk of the local station’s programming, however, and that includes local news programming. But Sinclair told the Los Angeles Times that the situation does throw an unwanted wrinkle in its ability to negotiate a fair retransmission contract.

On its website, Sinclair said that it believes there is no chance for a deal before the deadline expires, on grounds that TWC would like to force a disruption in service in hopes of parlaying it into regulation that would damage broadcasters’ ability to negotiate.

Sinclair also said that while it cannot negotiate in public, it was asking for substantially less than a penny a day per subscriber, a figure that was less than TWC pays for content with a considerably smaller audience. Sinclair also expressed its belief that the price could be passed on to subscribers or deducted from TWC’s profits without being all that noticeable, but suggested anybody questioning that particular contact TWC.

RBR-TVBR observation: Besides the question of how this will alter the playing field between local broadcasters and MVPDs, it also brings into the question the relationship between local affiliates and their national broadcast networks. This takes a complex situation and adds a few extra layers. How will it all play out? Stay tuned.