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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 22, 2011

Accusations Fly as Time Warner Cable and MSG Continue Their Feud

By Jordan Eggers, Contributing Writer

A recent article from The Wall Street Journal reaffirms the ongoing battle between Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable and Madison Square Garden network is far from over.

As the interview took place on Wednesday, Chief Executive Glenn Britt stated sports channels should be sold separately. “What was a minor problem is turning into an astronomical problem,” said Britt; adding, “The ultimate solution is to get that programming on some sort of smaller packaging scheme.”

Currently, cable and satellite operators pay $2.48 per household per month for MSG and $2.17 per month for MSG+. According to The Wall Street Journal article, those costs are up 70 percent from five years ago.

Time Warner Cable has already stated that if a deal is not reached by Dec. 31, when the contract expires, it will be MSG’s decision and MSG’s alone. “MSG wants a 53 percent increase in the price we currently pay. We buy sports all over the country and that is way out of line,” said Joli Plucknette-Farmen, Time Warner spokesperson.

As of right now the MSG sports network carries the NBA New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers and Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. If a deal is not made by midnight on Dec. 31, MSG will no longer be available for customers and sports fans in the surrounding areas.

As the feud continues both companies have made their standoff quite public. On Tuesday, Buffalo News carried a full-page ad from MSG stating, “Time Warner Cable Might Cancel Your Sabres Game.” On Wednesday Time Warner shot back with an ad that said, “First they lock out the Knicks, now MSG wants to block out the fans.” The ad pictures a flattened basketball and made reference to the recent NBA lockout.

Both companies haven’t remained innocent during their battle and MSG is claiming that Time Warner Cable’s accusations are a smokescreen to the real issue. “Time Warner Cable is blatantly mischaracterizing our negotiations and the figures as a smokescreen for the fact that they are not willing to pay fair and reasonable rates for our programming,” said the company on Sunday.

However, although allegations are being thrown back and forth between the two companies it hasn’t stopped Time Warner Cable from striking a new deal with New England Sports Network.

“NESN is delighted to continue our long-standing partnership with Time Warner Cable, a company with one of the finest reputations in the industry. We value all our viewers and look forward to continue delivering our coverage of New England sports to Time Warner Cable’s customers,” said NESN President and CEO, Sean McGrail.

Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, but the new contract will cover the regional sports network for subscribers in the network’s six-state New England territory.

Jordan Eggers has five years of writing experience and has written pieces for various print outlets and websites. Currently living abroad, she is working as a freelance writer and enjoys keeping up-to-date on everything new happening in technology.

Edited by Jennifer Russell