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Retrans Standoff Could Keep LIN TV Stations Off TWC Systems

A retransmission-consent battle is looming between LIN TV and Time Warner Cable that could result in 15 stations getting dropped from the cable operator’s systems next month, the broadcaster said Monday.

In a press release, LIN TV said that its current contract with Time Warner expires Oct. 2, and both sides have so far failed to come to terms on a new one.

Since July, LIN TV claims that it has attempted to reach a new long-term agreement or an extension agreement with the cable operator for its stations’ analog and high-definition signals, but that Time Warner “has not responded” to its proposals.

“As a result, LIN TV expects Time Warner to discontinue carriage of its television stations when the contract expires on Oct. 2,” the broadcaster said in its release. “This will deprive viewers of important local news, traffic and weather, in addition to popular programming, including the Major League Baseball World Series, NFL Footballgames, and popular shows such as Wheel of Fortune, Law & Order, Jeopardy, CSI and Survivor.

Time Warner said it is trying to keep costs down for its subscribers.

“We just hope LIN will not take its channels [stations] away from our customers,” said Robyn Watson, Time Warner Cable director of public relations. “We are trying to manage the costs for our customers, and LIN is looking to make more money. But we’re continuing to negotiate in good faith. We hope to reach a fair and reasonable deal with the broadcasters, we always have, but we can’t allow our customers to bear the cost of the broadcasters’ business model.”

There are 15 LIN TV-owned stations carried by Time Warner in Austin, Texas; 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 TV said it’s reached agreements with every major cable, satellite and telecommunications company except for Time Warner, “all of which have recognized the fair market value of its stations’ signals.”

“Most cable operators, like their satellite and telecommunications competitors, now understand and acknowledge that fair and equitable compensation is essential to ensure the viability of local television,” LIN TV president and CEO Vincent Sadusky said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to negotiating with Time Warner so we may reach a deal with them before our contract expires.”

LIN TV said it has formed a marketing and promotional partnership with Dish Network to encourage consumers to switch to the satellite provider if a LIN TV local station signal has the potential to become unavailable or is removed from a cable system.

For a limited time, all new subscribers to Dish Network in the Austin, Buffalo, Columbus, Dayton, Fort Wayne, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Mobile, Terre Haute and Toledo markets will receive a $50 incentive to switch to the satellite provider.

The broadcaster also pointed out that Verizon’s FiOS TV service also carries LIN TV stations in the Buffalo area and the Fort Wayne market.

LIN TV, along with its subsidiaries, owns and operates 29 television stations in 17 markets.