LIN Readies for Time Warner Cable Retrans Fight

LIN TV said early Monday that the signals for 15 of its stations may go dark on Time Warner Cable systems when an existing retransmission-consent deal expires Oct. 2.

LIN president and CEO Vince Sadusky said Time Warner Cable has not agreed to negotiate after the two parties initially met several weeks ago. “We’ve offered up our proposal and have not gotten a response,” he added.

There was no immediate response from Time Warner.

A total of 15 LIN TV-owned local stations are currently carried by Time Warner Cable in Austin; Buffalo, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Green Bay, Wis.; Indianapolis; Mobile, Ala.; Springfield, Mass; Terre Haute, Ind.; and Toledo, Ohio. LIN has 29 stations in 17 markets.

Sadusky, who is asking for cash as compensation, was optimistic that a deal could be worked out prior to the contract’s expiration. “I can’t imagine we can’t come to terms with these guys,” he said, citing the broadcaster’s history with successful retransmission-consent negotiations.

LIN asserted that Time Warner has not responded to its attempts to negotiate for both analog and HD signals over two months, and the Web site of its station in Austin, Texas, said it is seeking less than one penny per day, per subscriber, or roughly 30 cents cash per month.

The KXAN-TV Web site has a banner ad urging viewers to call Time Warner Cable to complain. The site also directs viewers to Dish Network satellite and AT&T U-verse TV as alternatives. LIN’s press release Monday also mentioned Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV.

“It is unreasonable for Time Warner to think that it can carry our signal without paying fair market value -- less than one penny per day, per subscriber -- and still charge you for it,” KXAN-TV’s Web site said. “Our agreements include providers in Austin such as AT&T, Dish, DirecTV, Suddenlink Communications and Grande Communications, all of which acknowledged the fair market value of LIN TV's stations.”

LIN said in its announcement Monday that it is in a promotion with Dish Network offering a $50 incentive for cable subscribers to switch in the following markets: Austin, Buffalo, Columbus, Dayton, Fort Wayne, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Mobile, Terre Haute and Toledo. A smaller FiOS promotion is also underway.

LIN added that Time Warner is the last of its big retrans contracts up for renewal after coming to terms recently with DirecTV and Charter Communications. LIN went public with the word of a possible Charter blackout prior to its deal expiration, but ultimately, there was no Charter channel blackout.

Although he was optimistic that a deal can be worked out, Sadusky said LIN will play hardball with Time Warner. “We’ve got a history of following through and coming off when we have to,” he added, mentioning KXAN Austin shutting off last New Year’s Eve, a casualty of LIN’s retrans spat with Suddenlink. The two came to “a fair market agreement” in March.