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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 14, 2011

Some Time Warner Subscribers May Lose Local News

By Janice McDuffee, TMC Copy Editor

Some Time Warner Cable subscribers face a potential blackout as the company continues to negotiate with Sinclair Broadcast Inc. over the terms of its existing fee agreement.

If the two companies can’t make a deal, affected subscribers will lose a local network channel. 

The AP reported that local affiliates of Fox, CBS and ABC could go offline for some Time Warner (News - Alert) customers. No NBC stations will be affected.

Time Warner said that in the event of a blackout, network programming would still be made available by replacing signals from Sinclair with feeds from nearby stations in other cities—a practice the company says is possible even under the current contract with Sinclair, set to end in February.   While subscribers will not have access to the local news, the AP reports that programs like “Glee” and “Desperate Housewives” will still be available.

The spokesperson for Time Warner, Maureen Huff, told the AP the companies could reach a deal with Sinclair in the next 24 hours. However, Barry Faber, Sinclair general counsel said the company would like a week extension for continued negotiation.

In a separate negotiation, Sinclair has reached a tentative agreement on fees with regional cable provider Bright House Networks. Talks have been extended through Friday to work out the details.

The AP notes that these disputes have become more commonplace as broadcasts companies seek higher fees to supplement needed revenue resulting from an increase in advertising competition.

Janice McDuffee has worked in marketing, editing and freelance writing for companies including SheKnows and HBM Inc. after receiving her master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee