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Retrans Scuffle Shows Positive Signs

The looming retransmission consent battle between Time Warner Cable and Sinclair Broadcast Group appears to be showing signs of positive movement, with both sides raising the possibility of arbitration to settle the dispute.

Sinclair's stations in 10 markets are scheduled to go dark on Time Warner Cable systems in Dayton and Columbus, Ohio; Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y.; and San Antonio, Texas on Jan. 1 unless a retransmission consent deal can be reached. Earlier, it was revealed that Time Warner Cable, in the event Sinclair pulls its signal, has the right to carry Fox Networks national broadcast feed in Sinclair's markets. Six of the 10 stations involved in the dispute are Fox affiliates.

According to people familiar with the negotiations, Sinclair has put out the possibility of arbitration to settle the retrans dispute, a development those sources said Time Warner Cable would be amenable to. However, Sinclair has not offered details of what type of arbitration it would accept, who that arbitrator would be or when it would begin the process.

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