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Utica Common Council passes resolution asking for continued negotiations in cable dispute
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - On Wednesday evening, the Utica Common Council brought to the floor a resolution asking for both sides in the current dispute between Smith Media and its parent company, Boston Ventures, and Time Warner Cable to resume dialog and negotiations.
Smith Media owns WKTV among other television stations throughout the country.
The resolution passed unanimously.
"Every day we are hearing from more and more residents of our City regarding their displeasure and frustration of being without their local WKTV updates, news, weather, school closings and public safety reports, not to mention the absence of Non-Profit organization announcements and special local programming dedicated to our city/area citizens," said Councilman Jerry Kraus.
The resolution states the following:
Sponsored by: Council members Kraus, Vescera, Zeccca, Bucciero, Arcuri, Lawler, Giruzzi, Mckinsey, Scalise
Jan 5, 2011
WHEREAS, The Utica Common Council understands and supports the need of our city residents to have TV/Cable access to 'local news/weather/school and road closings/emergencies' regarding public safety and public health as well as the regular flow of government and community news and information, and
WHEREAS, The local programming of WKTV 'Newschannel 2', the long-running provider of local TV news and has been the most utilized TV method for delivery of such information, and there is no other Utica-based supplier of TV news/information solely focused on Utica-area issues, is not currently available on the Time Warner Cable system for Utica subscribers (estimated at 70,000), and
WHEREAS, both parties (WKTV and Time Warner Cable) have been at an impasse regarding their ongoing business agreements since Thursday December 16, 2010 and the City residents, government officials, non-profit agencies and the business community are all anticipating a timely agreement to resume the working relationship of the parties (WKTV and Time Warner Cable) to bring this 'local' programming back to those who need and have come to expect it in their daily lives and are missing out on this important and timely information, and
WHEREAS, We join our State Representatives (Senator Griffo and Assemblywoman Destito), County Executive (Picente) and Utica Mayor (Roefaro) to ask these parties (WKTV and Time Warner Cable) to resume and continue bargaining in good-faith, and
WHEREAS, Some Utica residents have remarked that 'their voice doesn't matter in this debate', and we want to assure them that we hear their voices and as we also are very concerned about this lack of local information flow.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Utica Common Council strongly urges the parties involved in the current WKTV and Time Warner Cable impasse continue to meet in good faith to solve this dispute in a timely manner for the benefit of our residents, neighborhoods and our entire City of Utica and surrounding communities.
In response to the Common Council's action, Smith Media said that it supports the resolution, releasing the following statement:
The Utica Common Council unanimously adopted a resolution on the weeks-long impasse between WKTV and Time Warner Cable. WKTV unconditionally endorses the Council’s call for a timely and amicable resolution of the impasse.
WKTV has been attempting for five years to negotiate a new long-term retransmission consent agreement with Time Warner Cable to ensure that WKTV’s programming remains available to Time Warner Cable’s subscribers. Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable has steadfastly refused to pay fair value for WKTV’s top-rated programming. After granting countless extensions to the cable company, WKTV reluctantly concluded that these extensions merely served to embolden Time Warner Cable’s reluctance to enter into a market-based agreement with WKTV. Consequently, on December 16th, WKTV declined to grant the cable company any further extensions, and Time Warner Cable replaced WKTV with a television station broadcasting in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
In its resolution, the Council recognized that WKTV Newschannel 2 is the long-running, and only, provider of local TV news for the Utica area. The resolution reads in part, “City residents, government officials, non-profit agencies and the business community are all anticipating a timely agreement to resume the working relationship of the parties (WKTV and Time Warner Cable) to bring this 'local' programming back to those who need and have come to expect it in their daily lives and are missing out on this important and timely information.”
The Utica Common Council’s resolution urges the parties “to meet in good faith to solve this dispute in a timely manner for the benefit of our residents, neighborhoods and our entire City of Utica and surrounding communities.” Similar requests have been registered publicly by Senator Griffo and Assemblywoman Destito, County Executive Picente, and Utica Mayor Roefaro.
“We thank the Common Council and other local leaders for their tireless efforts on behalf of the local community during this difficult period,” said Vic Vetters, WKTV’s General Manager “WKTV fully endorses their calls for prompt, good faith negotiations to restore WKTV to local cable systems.”
Mr. Vetters stated that WKTV provided a long-term proposal to Time Warner Cable on December 15th, which the cable company rejected hours before replacing WKTV with the Scranton station. WKTV remains willing to meet and discuss the situation with Time Warner Cable at any time.
“On multiple occasions since December 15th, we have invited Time Warner Cable to make a new proposal to resolve this matter. We are still waiting for that response.”
WKTV’s programming remains available for viewers with an over the air antenna, and this dispute will not affect customers of Dish Network or any other pay TV provider. “We have reached long term agreements with every other major cable and satellite distributor,” Mr. Vetters stated.