State lawmakers ask both sides for end to cable contract dispute

ALBANY, N.Y. - State officials have written to both Smith Media and Time Warner Communications asking for an end to recent contract issues that led to the loss of WKTV and the CW11in various areas.

State Senator James Seward, (R/C/I–Oneonta), State Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R/C-Rome) and Assemblywoman RoAnn M. Destito (D/WF-Rome) have written to both corporate entities asking them to resolve outstanding contract issues that have led to the loss of WKTV and The CW11 for thousands of Time-Warner cable subscribers in Utica and surrounding areas.

“I regard this as a very serious matter involving the public interest which affects the ability of governmental entities, including area school districts, municipalities, the State Emergency Management Office, and local employers to get information quickly to area residents,” Destito said.

“I would like to emphasize on behalf of many of my constituents that these companies need to do everything possible to resolve the outstanding issues that have led to these television stations being eliminated for many cable customers in the Mohawk Valley,” Griffo said.

Destito and Griffo are urging both companies to resolve the issue in a fair and equitable manner as soon as possible, including entering into arbitration if necessary.

“I would like to emphasize that these negotiations should never impact the viewing public,” Destito added.

A day earlier, State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I–Oneonta) called on Smith Media LLC and Time Warner Cable to continue contract negotiations in regard to the broadcast of WKTV and CW11.

"Access to local programming, and in particular, local news is vital from a public safety standpoint,” said Senator Seward. “While I am not in a position to favor either side in what is a business negotiation, I do hope that both parties will remain at the bargaining table in order to reach a mutual agreement that benefits the public good.”

In a letter to both parties, Senator Seward writes:

"While I understand there are many factors involved in the complex talks, I would urge both parties to continue good faith negotiations in an effort to resolve the stalemate in a timely manner. Public safety concerns as well as quality of life issues are at stake, and a lengthy impasse will only hurt the many families and individuals that depend on local television news and other programming. Certainly, the loss of a locally-based television affiliate, readily available to area viewers through cable, would be a tremendous blow to our region.”

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