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Time Warner, Cablevision Battle Over Sports Nets

The latest tussle between Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems is over a new carriage deal for Cablevision’s New York-area regional sports nets. Carriage agreements for both MSG and Fox Sports Net New York with Time Warner expire Dec. 31. Although the two sides have been talking for months, they have not yet reached a new deal and the channels could soon go dark.

Time Warner took ads out in New York-area newspapers Thursday saying "Cablevision is threatening to take the Knicks and the Rangers away from you in January." The ad also claims Time Warner has been negotiating in good faith but Cablevision has made "unreasonable" price demands that would result in a price increase for subscribers.

Cablevision fired back, saying the dispute is tied to a "full-scale attack on Rainbow’s networks including AMC." Time Warner and Cablevision’s Rainbow Media unit are at odds over AMC’s carriage and have filed lawsuits against each other.

In a statement, a Rainbow spokesperson said, "We have offered Time Warner Cable the opportunity to allow its customers to choose whether or not to receive these well-established regional sports networks. Time Warner Cable has demonstrated a reckless and cynical approach to these negotiations in an attempt to extract unreasonable terms from a programmer."

That suggests that Cablevision is open to the possibility of Time Warner placing the sports nets on a tier. Cablevision currently offers the channels on a tier with the YES Network.

But a Time Warner spokesman says Cablevision’s offer comes with strings, including carriage for its Metro Channels. "They are not open to a true tier arrangement."

Time Warner also says it has received letters from Cablevision threatening to sue for copyright infringement if, in the absence of a new deal, Time Warner continues to carry the networks after New Year’s Eve. Still, Time Warner’s spokesman said, "We are still hopeful that we can get a new, long-term contract."