Time Warner Customers Could Lose Sinclair Stations

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Another dispute over fees paid for television programming is coming down to the wire. Yahoo News reports that Time Warner Cable, Inc. is fighting with Sinclair Broadcast Group over how much Time Warner pays Sinclair to air its stations, and unless an agreement is reached before the current contract expires at midnight Friday, 33 Sinclair stations in 21 markets will go dark for Time Warner customers.

Time Warner rejected Sinclair’s proposal of a monthly per station increase averaging 10 cents per subscriber and, according to Sinclair, has not submitted a counter-proposal, so negotiations are currently at a standstill, though Time Warner says it is still willing to negotiate. These contract disputes have traditionally been settled before a blackout occurs, but this year has actually seen at least seven signal outages. Most recently, Cablevision customers in metropolitan New York lost FOX programming for fifteen days in October.

News Corp, which owns FOX, has said it will provide Time Warner with network programming should Sinclair follow through and drop its local FOX stations’ signal. This stems from an agreement between News Corp and Time Warner made last year during a similar fee dispute. While customers would receive all national FOX programming, they would not get local news broadcasts.

College football fans would be hard hit by a potential blackout since it is bowl game season, so hopefully a deal will be reached quickly with no inconvenience to the customers who are the ones who end up paying any fee increase.