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Time Warner Vows Not To Cut Broadcast Networks

December 31, 2010

Television shows from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC will not go off the air, Time Warner Cable promised on Friday, even if they are unable to reach a new contract with Sinclair Broadcasting Group before their current contract expires at midnight.

On Wednesday, media outlets first reported that as many as four million Time Warner customers, from Florida to Maine, could lose access to the so-called ‘big four’ broadcast television networks due to an ongoing contract dispute with Sinclair. At the heart of the dispute are the fees charged by Sinclair in order for Time Warner to have permission to include their stations in their channel lineups.

There was concern that 33 Sinclair-operated stations in 21 US markets, including New York, San Antonio, and Pittsburgh, could go dark as of 12:01am on January 1. However, late Thursday evening, Time Warner Cable said that they would continue broadcasting the network programming, including broadcasts of college football bowl games, even if Sinclair pulls newscasts and other local programming, according to Associated Press (AP) reports.

“The companies’ dispute is the latest of several in the industry this year, some of which resulted in cable customers missing part of the Oscars broadcast and two World Series games,” reporters from the wire service said. “In most cases, however, cable and broadcast companies have been able to avoid blackouts, even if negotiations go down the wire.”

“Time Warner Cable said Thursday that it is still working to reach a long-term agreement with Sinclair,” the AP added. “Rob Marcus, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said discussions between the Time Warner Cable programming team and Sinclair have taken place ‘as recently as this morning and are ongoing.’”

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