Cable operator's retrans dispute with Journal Broadcast Group resulted in stations going dark July 25
Time Warner Cable settled its grudge match with CBS — ending the month-long blackout of CBS-owned stations in New York, L.A., Dallas and other cities — but more than 600,000 of the cable operator’s customers remain without NBC and CBS affiliates in four smaller markets because of a retransmission-consent dispute between TW Cable and Journal Broadcast Group.
Four of Journal Broadcast’s stations went dark on TW Cable July 25 at around midnight local time: WTMJ (NBC) in Milwaukee; WGBA (NBC) in Green Bay/Appleton, Wisc.; KMTV (CBS) in Omaha, Neb.; and KMIR (NBC) in Palm Springs, Calif. TW Cable on July 10 dropped two low-power Journal Broadcast stations affiliated with MyNetwork TV, WACY in Green Bay and KPSE in Palm Springs, while the others remained on the air under an FCC rule prohibiting blackouts during sweeps ratings periods.
In a statement Monday night, Journal Communications president and CEO Andre Fernandez said: “We are encouraged by the announcement that CBS and Time Warner Cable have resolved their differences. We are hopeful we can now reach a mutually beneficial agreement with Time Warner Cable and have all of the valuable programming from the Journal Broadcast Group stations returned to our viewers in Wisconsin, Nebraska and California.”
A Time Warner Cable rep said talks are “ongoing.” In an update on its informational website on the dispute, the operator said, “We continue to work hard to reach an agreement with Journal that will provide our customers on terms that are as fair and reasonable as possible. We deeply regret that Journal continues to put us in this position.”
The companies’ retrans deal had been set to expire June 30, but the parties extended the pact through July 24.
In place of the blacked-out Journal Broadcast stations, TW Cable is temporarily offering Hallmark Movie Channel; previously the MSO had offered a preview of Starz Kids & Family but the operator’s rights to offer that preview expired Aug. 31.
TW Cable has claimed Milwaukee-based Journal Broadcast is seeking a 200% fee hike, while the broadcaster says the increase as just pennies per day per subscriber. According to Journal Broadcast, the station group has successfully negotiated more than 140 retrans contracts with other distributors without any interruption in service.