WKTV goes dark in parts of CNY; both sides continue negotiations

By JOLEEN FERRIS

(WKTV) - There was no 11th-hour deal, and moments after midnight on Thursday, tens of thousands of Time Warner Cable customers in the Utica market lost WKTV programming.

The Utica market includes eastern Oneida County and all of Herkimer and Otsego Counties. However, parts of Herkimer County were still receiving WKTV via cable as of noon. What Time Warner customers in those areas not receiving WKTV saw when they tuned in Thursday morning was some network programming, including the Today Show. But when it came to local news, they are saw WBRE, the NBC affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

WKTV was still seen by over 48,000 cable customers outside of their market including western Oneida County and parts of Madison County among others.

"I believe all news is local and I believe our position has been in the beginning, we have something of value that we provide the people of this community every day, five and a half hours every day and I think if you watch (WBRE's newscasts), you recognize maybe it's a good job, but it's irrelevant to people in this community," says Vic Vetters, the vice president and group manager of Smith Media. Smith Media is the parent company of WKTV and the CW11.

Several WKTV viewers, who woke to unfamiliar faces on their TV screens Thursday morning, agreed.

"...I now get WBRE out of Pennsylvania, like I care what is going on in Pennsylvania when I'm trying to find out if my son has school," wrote Lisa Novak on the WKTV Facebook page.

Others, like Facebook user Todd Cagwin, were less upset about the loss.

"...Loss of WKTV will not be that bad as long as Time Warner Cable offers alternative NBC programming."

Vetters says negotiations are happening at the highest levels of the WKTV organization, and that Thursday is more a day of regrouping for both sides. Vetters adds that, while Time Warner Cable profits from the sale of WKTV programming, station ownership currently receives no compensation for that programming.

Similar breakdowns in negotiations in other cities have been resolved within hours; others have gone on for weeks. A spokesperson for Time Warner Cable has not yet returned our calls.

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