Sinclair to pull FOX, ABC, CW, MY, stations from some Time Warner Cable systems after negotiations fail

The Sinclair Broadcast Group has announced that negotiations with Time Warner Cable have come to an end "as a result of Time Warner Cable's refusal to engage in further negotiations," according to TV NewsCheck, an industry-website that follows the goings on within TV stations, cable and associated media businesses.

There are 33 stations total across the country that will be pulled including Fox 68 (WSYT) and My 43 (WNYS), both based in Syracuse.

According to TV NewsCheck, Sinclair's most recent financial offer - a monthly per-station increase that averaged 10 cents per subscriber - was rejected by TWC, Sinclair said, adding that TWC "refused to provide a financial counter-proposal, effectively ending negotiations." As a result, Sinclair television stations will no longer be carried on Time Warner Cable systems after midnight on December 31.

Sinclair told NewsCheck that its most recent offer would have guaranteed that the price being paid by Time Warner Cable "would be equal to or less than the price agreed to by every other major cable and satellite provider with which Sinclair has completed a deal during the past two years."

This "most-favored nations" protection included not only Time Warner's primary competitors, DirecTV and Dish Network, but also the agreement reached with Charter earlier this year and the agreement reached with Mediacom just last week.

Sinclair said the pricing proposed by Sinclair is also less than what published reports indicate the cable industry pays for less popular programming streams, such as ESPN, TNT, the Disney Channel, Fox News and others.

Sinclair said it has also offered to match the pricing pursuant to which Time Warner Cable claims it will be able to continue to carry Fox network programming, a proposal that Sinclair said Time Warner "has also rejected without even making a counter-proposal. Time Warner has also rejected Sinclair's suggestion to resolve the dispute using a fair and reasonable binding arbitration process."

The expiring agreement with Time Warner Cable covers 33 television stations received by more than 8.5 million of what Time Warner Cable refers to as primary service units.

"We simply do not understand why Time Warner insists on being treated better than its competition," said Barry Faber, Sinclair's EVP-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 10 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 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."

A call for comment from Time Warner Cable was not immediately returned to TV NewsCheck.

Sinclair is not the only company currently in negotiations with Time Warner Cable. Earlier in December, Smith Media, which owns several television stations, including WKTV in Utica, pulled their signal from Time Warner Cable after agreements could not be reached on retransmission fees.

The following is a complete list of the 33 television stations located in 21 markets that are currently carried by Time Warner and Brighthouse under the agreement with Time Warner which is scheduled to terminate on December 31, 2010:

KABB (San Antonio, TX),
KBSI (Girardeau, MO),
WDKY (Lexington, KY),
WPGH (Pittsburgh, PA),
WRGT (Dayton, OH),
WSYT (Syracuse, NY),
WTAT (Charleston, SC),
WTTE (Columbus, OH),
WUHF (Rochester, NY),
WUTV (Buffalo, NY)
and WVAH (Charleston, WV);

WCHS (Charleston, WV),
WEAR (Pensacola, FL/Mobile, AL),
WKEF (Dayton, OH),
WSYX (Columbus, OH) and
WXLV (Greensboro, NC);

WGME (Portland, ME)

WTWC (Tallahassee, FL)

KMYS (San Antonio, TX),
WLFL (Raleigh, NC),
WTTO (Birmingham, AL)
and WVTV (Milwaukee, WI)

WABM (Birmingham, AL),
WCGV (Milwaukee, WI),
WMMP (Charleston, SC),
WMYV (Greensboro, NC),
WNYO (Buffalo, NY),
WNYS (Syracuse, NY),
WPMY (Pittsburgh, PA),
WRDC (Raleigh, NC);
WSTR (Cincinnati. OH),
WTTA (Tampa, FL)
and WTVZ (Norfolk, VA).

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